General Discussion Triathlon Talk » How much to exhale underwater Rss Feed  
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2012-08-07 11:08 AM

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Pottstown, PA
Subject: How much to exhale underwater
I apologize for the rather simplistic question, but I'm not very knowledgeable about swimming and can't seem to find the answer anywhere. I have a lot of trouble breathing normally while swimming; I'm planning to take lessons over the fall and winter seasons to address this. What I'm curious about though is how much to exhale while underwater. Do I exhale only as much as I normally do while at rest, or do I force out all the air in my lungs (residual volume)? Or does it depend on some factor such as distance, exertion, etc.?


2012-08-07 11:15 AM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
Don't leave your lungs completely empty cuz that'll leave you gasping, throwing your body out of line when you surface. it should feel pretty natural, not like you're forcing air out. Exhale underwater as much as you need to inhale.

When you breathe in swimming you should only take in short bites of air, not full lung inhales.
2012-08-07 11:16 AM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
I guess to more specifically answer your question it should feel ~85% empty, so a bit more than you're at rest but not much.

Again you're not completely filling your lungs on the inhale.
2012-08-07 11:22 AM
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Elite
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
I'm going to go with "whatever you do when you are just breathing normally".
2012-08-07 11:25 AM
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Pottstown, PA
Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
Ah, that may be where I'm going wrong - filling my lungs when inhaling. I guess I'm not entirely comfortable in the water yet, because I always want to take a deep breath when inhaling. The really frustrating thing is that when I turn to breathe, I have an irresistible urge to inhale then exhale, and inhale again before turning back underwater. That, and I swallow a lot of air, which is very, ah, unpleasant afterward, not to mention painful. I need a lot of work on my breathing.
2012-08-07 11:31 AM
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Melon Presser
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater

Swimsmooth.com has oustanding resources for every level of swimmer.

This one most specifically answers your question (and remember there's some individual leeway here too, but I do recommend trying what they say and you will eventually find just the right pattern and amount that works for you). Also, check out the rest of the Beginners section.

http://www.swimsmooth.com/exhalation_beg.html



2012-08-07 11:33 AM
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Elite
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
If you are doing it properly, there is no way you should have time to inhale, exhale and then inhale again in a single cycle. 
2012-08-07 11:40 AM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater

I went through this same thing.  What has helped me has been just tons of repetition to the point where I no longer think about breathing anymore.  If I had to guess how empty my lungs get, I'd say 85% empty before inhaling.

In January, I couldn't swim a length of the pool without choking on water.  In June I completed a half Ironman and regularly now swim a mile or more at a time.  I'm very slow and still have a lot to accomplish form-wise, but the breathing is exponentially easier.  It took me several months to get comfortable with it.  Good luck!

2012-08-07 12:30 PM
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NH
Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater

I like the swimsmooth site now, and as a total beginner learning to swim I used Total Immersion, which also taught me to breath smoothly while swimming (please don't hijack the thread people!).

I actually could NOT breath out with my face in the water when I started.  Phobia I guess.  I spent the first week of swim training standing in the lake breathing in and out while I put my face into the water.  After a while it becomes like normal breathing.  I think that's the key - to more or less breath the same as running or biking.  You shouldn't ever be gasping or over-inhaling.

2012-08-07 12:42 PM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater

I start exhaling when I begin to rotate for a breath. I'm still exhaling a bit as my face comes out of the water and then inhale. I don't think this is technically considered the optimum technique by all of the swim coaching websites and such, but it is satisfactory for me right now until I get better in other areas.

If you feel the urge to inhale as soon as you come out of the water, it sounds like you're not getting enough air on your inhalations. Normally you would have an urge to purge your lungs of the carbon dioxide by exhaling before you inhale. It sounds like you need to take deeper breaths when inhaling and get your lungs fuller.

2012-08-07 1:16 PM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
85% sounds about right...never really paid too much attention to how much or how forcefully I'm exhaling.  I'm certainly not going to the point where I am getting every last drop of air out of my lungs.  A good exhale is key, though, as you really want to keep the air machine going and get that CO2 out of your system.


2012-08-07 1:45 PM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater

When I started taking swimming lessons (November 2011, began at 33 years old) I kept getting annoyed that the teacher focused a lot of time at the beginning of class just bobbing in the water. Like, okay, can we please get to the strokes now? I want to swim. After several sessions, I get it. It's all about relaxing in the water, forming a rhythm, and breathing comfortably. Some people still struggle with this skill, so I see how important it is (it was second nature to me, somehow).

I find it a useful practice though. We start at the shallow end, take a breath, bob under, and breathe out. As we come up, we move forward towards the deep end a bit, and we repeat, rhythmically bobbing up and under, exhaling under, breathing in up top. This gets more challenging as you get to the deep end, and it teaches you to adjust how quickly you breathe in and out.

I'm not a teacher, so I'm sorry if I haven't clearly demonstrated the exercise, but there you have it. We'd start at the shallow end, move to the deep end, and then head back. When in the deep end, we'd do a pencil surface dive, bringing out hands out and pushing the water up so that we touch the bottom of the pool with our feet. The feet then drive the body upwards, and you try to angle it at about 45 degrees so you move forward.

Maybe someone else who teaches can elaborate, but it's worth a try, to practice rhythmic inhalation and exhalation.

Best of luck, and I hope you find value in your swim lessons. I know I did.

2012-08-07 1:48 PM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
Oh - I forgot to mention, I did have a different teacher in a later session who made me do only deep water bobbing. I'd have to do about 10 or so in a row, each time coming up for air, then going to the bottom of the pool, pushing off with my feet, and coming up for air. No pause in between, just up and down and up and down and up and down...
2012-08-07 2:24 PM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
When I started to swim in order to avoid getting out of breath and being able to relax I told myself to go a "walking" pace. I would breath every other stroke at really slow non-taxing pace. It was a normal breathing pattern that you would expect to be doing while walking.
2012-08-07 2:31 PM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
Great info, everyone - thanks so much for the replies!
2012-08-07 2:46 PM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
A great overall book on swimming that's been covered on threads here is Swim Smooth book.


2012-08-08 4:41 PM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater

I was constantly out of breath swimming and recently took some lessons at my community pool. Breathing out through my nose as you normally would made a 50% improvement for me. Previously I was inhaling and exhaling like I was going to bench press a Volvo. Once the breathing was under control I eased up on the kicking a little. I didn't need to kick so hard and so fast. Next thing you know I'm developing a rythm and swimming longer, at a more relaxed pace. Still have a long way to go in terms of fitness and putting in the laps, but taking lessons was the best thing I ever did.

Thanks for asking this question!

2012-08-08 5:11 PM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
breathe normally as you would during any exercise only, exhale under water, inhale over water.
2012-08-08 5:31 PM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater

Raven13 - 2012-08-07 11:08 AM I apologize for the rather simplistic question, but I'm not very knowledgeable about swimming and can't seem to find the answer anywhere. I have a lot of trouble breathing normally while swimming; I'm planning to take lessons over the fall and winter seasons to address this. What I'm curious about though is how much to exhale while underwater. Do I exhale only as much as I normally do while at rest, or do I force out all the air in my lungs (residual volume)? Or does it depend on some factor such as distance, exertion, etc.?

This is a great question because most people only think to ask about when to breath, not how to breath.  I've been working with my daughter who is brand new to swimming as well as with a guy new to my swim team who is actually halfway decent.  Both of them find the hardest thing about swimming is that they are always starved for air.  The comments are usually like this: "I'm REALLY out of shape" or "Swimming is HARD!"

The truth is that both of them are in shape and are not breathing right.  You can get a lot of air in and out of your lungs without getting the O2 in to the blood or the CO2 out of the blood. 

I find it works best to just relax my diaphragm and let the air find it's own way out more or less like when you sigh.  Pull air in when you inhale with the diaphragm, but DON'T keep your diaphragm tight as you exhale....meaning don't 'control' or your exhale.  There is something about relaxing the diaphragm that allows for better gas transfer from the lungs to the bloodstream.

Also, don't inhale to 100% of your lung capacity or something negative happens to your oxygen uptake also.  These statements about breathing apply to running and cycling too, especially when you are at threshold.

When swimming I find that if I take what feels like a SMALL breath in, that I have a whole heck of a lot of air to exhale.  It's like the air is multiplying!  It's really just that we have a tendency to keep air in our lungs and when we think the air in and air out are equal they aren't and the lungs are getting more and more full with each breath, but not emptying the bad air completely when we exhale.

So work on that breathing.  Make it natural and relaxed.

 

2012-08-08 7:09 PM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
The truth is that both of them are in shape and are not breathing right.  You can get a lot of air in and out of your lungs without getting the O2 in to the blood or the CO2 out of the blood. 

I find it works best to just relax my diaphragm and let the air find it's own way out more or less like when you sigh.  Pull air in when you inhale with the diaphragm, but DON'T keep your diaphragm tight as you exhale....meaning don't 'control' or your exhale.  There is something about relaxing the diaphragm that allows for better gas transfer from the lungs to the bloodstream.

Also, don't inhale to 100% of your lung capacity or something negative happens to your oxygen uptake also.  These statements about breathing apply to running and cycling too, especially when you are at threshold.

very insightful comments here...actually there is not a 'negative' thing that happens, but stretch receptors are activated when the lungs are overinflated. And keeping too much c02 in, IS a bad thing, due to poor ventilation/expiration and you will not feel like you are breathing normally as it's more like breathing into a bag. And relaxing while exhaling doesn't help or affect gas exchange, simply it lets there be a more natural ventilation

since I am new to running/triathlon (about 1 year into this now) but have progressed in swimming to completing the IM distance, I can say that I certainly had trouble in learning 'how' to breathe. it was difficult to find the right size of breath and what you said is what i found-try to relax your diaphram and breathe deep enough in and exhale completely-without forcing anything

well said!

2012-08-08 7:52 PM
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Subject: RE: How much to exhale underwater
TriAya - 2012-08-07 11:31 AM

Swimsmooth.com has oustanding resources for every level of swimmer.

This one most specifically answers your question (and remember there's some individual leeway here too, but I do recommend trying what they say and you will eventually find just the right pattern and amount that works for you). Also, check out the rest of the Beginners section.

http://www.swimsmooth.com/exhalation_beg.html

 

Great answers in that link!



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