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2013-04-09 4:48 PM

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Subject: Swimming for big boys
Evening all-

I know there has been a lot of discussion in the past on the best method of breathing on the swim on the forums. Bi- lateral, breathing on one side. Breathing every 3-5- or even 7 breaths. I'm interested to hear what works best for us bigger athletes -or- if our size shouldn't impact our approach to the subject. Thanks for the reply, I'm interested to hear what ya'll have to say.


2013-04-09 9:14 PM
in reply to: #4693854

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys

I don't think size matters for breathing.  It's a personal preference/ability.  

I am currently 5'11 and around 220lbs.  I only breath on my left side every stroke.  For me it's a matter of comfort.  Every time I try to go on my right side I get dizzy after a few strokes.  

I just learned to swim free-style a couple years ago.  While I was learning I spent many hours trying all the different variations and eventually settled on what worked for me.  

2013-04-10 8:03 AM
in reply to: #4693854

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys
I used to only breathe on my left side, until I learned that the only reason I was swimming in a straight line was the black line on the bottom of the pool.  I was terrible in open water, and found out that when swimming in open water, you need to be able to swim both ways as needed.  I now bilaterial breathe and that is what I practice.  I actually went to a swim coach to help me fix my breathing issue of only one side.  He gave me some drills to do to work on it and then soon it was just natural.
2013-04-10 11:51 AM
in reply to: #4694389

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys

When I used to teach swimming I always made all of my students learn to breathe on both sides.  Now, in my training I find that breathing on alternating sides every third stroke is a good compromise between being out of breath and breathing too often.  But I think it's really just a matter of personal preference.

Where I can see it really paying off in a race is to be able to breathe on the opposite of a consistent chop.  If there were a steady wind and chop on your right you'd want to be able to breathe on your left, and vice versa on the way back.  It's a good skill/option to have.

2013-04-10 2:00 PM
in reply to: #4694862

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys

I don't think size matter either, based on what we've experienced. 

I can breathe on both sides and basically breathe when I need to.  That might be every 5-6 strokes when warming up, every 3 when I am warmed up but not doing a fast set, then I switch to a 3-2-2-3 rhythm when I am working harder. Only in the very hardest set might I breathe every 2. 

But I agree that being able to breathe on both sides is SUCH a useful skill.  You can then breathe in the direction of where you're sighting, out of the sun, or out of a crashing wave.

2013-04-10 2:52 PM
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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys

As a large fella, with Asthma because of being such a large fella, what has worked best for me is breathing on every left stroke.  (During a race anyway).  When I breath every 3-4 strokes, I end up getting winded.  Also, breathing every left stroke gives me the ability to sim a pretty straight line to the marker bouy.  I also have faster times by A. not getting winded, and B. swimming a straight line.

Now, on training swims and laps in the pool, I'll breath bilaterally and on every 3-4 strokes, but I tend to slow down and relax so as not to loose my breath.

Last, I'm a good swimmer, but have never taken an adult swim lesson, so this is probably opposite of what you should do...



2013-04-10 6:55 PM
in reply to: #4693854

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys
Thanks all for sharing your experiences with the subject. Currently I breathe every other stroke on the right. I'm thinking the best option for me at this point will be to join the masters program at my local gym and get some instruction on bi-lateral breathing. As a side note I'm new to the forums and have found ya'll to be very kind and helpful.
2013-04-10 7:51 PM
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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys

Here's a simple drill.  Swim a length using only your right hand, hold your left hand out in front of you the entire time, and breathe only on the right side.  Swim the return length holding the right hand straight out in front of you, stroking only with the left hand, and breathe only on the left side.  Repeat for three or four laps each workout and you'll get the hang of it.

Once you can do that easily start alternating; stroke/breathe right, stroke left, stroke right, stroke/breathe left repeat for several laps.

When you think that's fairly easy you are ready to start what I call pyramids.  My swim team kids had a love /hate relationship with these.  they are done at an easy pace, not at race pace.  Start with one lap with breathing every right stroke, then one lap alternating on every third stroke, then one lap every fourth stroke (on the right) for a lap, then one lap alternating every fifth stroke, now back down to every fourth (on the left this time), back to every third alternating, and finish with breathing on every left hand stroke.  Some of the kids used to compete to see who could climb the highest on the pyramid.  I had a bunch of sevens and eights over the years, a few nines, and one phenomenal eleven in his senior year (after YEARS of trying this).

2013-04-12 5:25 PM
in reply to: #4693854

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys
Great tip! Tried the bi lateral exercises yesterday and it was awkward at first(stii is) but with practice I'm sure it will come easier. TGIF BTW. Weekend couldn't come soon enough. Getting pyched for the long run/ride.
2013-04-12 6:19 PM
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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys
As mentioned, breathing both sides does help you swim straighter in open water. It also helps if conditions are choppy. If you only breath to one side and the waves are big, Murphy's Law will guarantee that there's always a big brown wall of water in your face just as you're turning to breath.
2013-04-15 12:21 PM
in reply to: #4698453

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Master
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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys

MUohio - 2013-04-12 5:25 PM Great tip! Tried the bi lateral exercises yesterday and it was awkward at first(stii is) but with practice I'm sure it will come easier. TGIF BTW. Weekend couldn't come soon enough. Getting pyched for the long run/ride.

The drills list above are great for allowing you to breathe either way, and also work on your reach while doing the drill.  It is not just used for teaching breathing.  I like to learn drills that help me in my swimming, and that really helped me with my breathing and to help me to remember to reach past my outstretched hand.



2013-04-23 10:56 AM
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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys
Anyone gave any tips for sighting? I seem to lose a gr as at deal of momentum as I lift my head.
2013-04-23 1:07 PM
in reply to: #4711565

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys

MUohio - 2013-04-23 11:56 AM Anyone gave any tips for sighting? I seem to lose a gr as at deal of momentum as I lift my head.

 

I saw somewhere in here about the "alligator" sighting method.  I tried it some last night and it wasnt too bad.  I still feel like I hit a wall when I lift my head, but not as bad.  Ill see if I can find the link...

2013-04-23 1:14 PM
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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys
2013-04-25 7:20 PM
in reply to: #4693854

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys
Thanks for the link. I'll practice that during my next swim.
2013-05-08 10:19 AM
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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys

I have practiced breathing on both sides but I often revert back to the comfort of left only.  Oddly enough, you mention sighting but the two go hand in hand because you can catch a glimpse of shoreline or bouys, and still keep your head down, when you take a stroke and breath.  Murphy's Law has and addendum that makes those objects always appear on the opposite side of where a one-sided breather breathes. 

In that case, I follow the feet of the next person to pass me and hope they are not lost.



2013-05-15 9:40 AM
in reply to: #4693854


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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys

I vote for the bi-lateral breathing. when I first started swimming laps, I always breathed on the left, after a few weeks I started having neck/sholder pain on my left side. Anyway, I tried bilateral breathing every other stroke. I struggled for several weeks, I really had to force myself to do. it just seemed so un-natural for a long time. But my neck/shoulder pain went away in just a few days

But, now, bilateral breathing is second nature, I don't even think about it.

 

2013-05-17 12:48 PM
in reply to: badburrito

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys
I breath every three strokes in training.
This allows me to do whatever I want in a race.
In general, I will stay with 3 strokes on straight aways when I want to get me stroke more efficient, but most of the time I will choose a side based on the surf, sighting, and other people.
It is nice to have the option of being comfortable on either side.
2013-05-17 1:11 PM
in reply to: MUohio

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys

My swim instructor has been working with me on the bilateral. I think that clearly is the way to go, but I still need work. In the absence of that, it will be one side only for me this weekend. Of course the bouys will be to my back. (Murphy's law) My swim instructor told me I swam like a barge over the winter. I am way past that, but woe to the person who drafts me this weekend. My combination of foot folowing and sluggish sighting isn't going to put anyone on the podium!

Thanks for all the advice out here. I am going to school on it!
2013-06-26 11:18 AM
in reply to: Magnum Athletos

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys

I don't think it really matters either, just what feels comfortable and natural. I started breathing on my left side, but now am trying to go bilateral. This just seems to make more sense. Since swimming is the hardest part for me it will be better if something were to get me out of that comfort zone.
2013-06-27 2:36 PM
in reply to: MUohio

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys

Agree with others that size doesn't matter in this regard.

I'm a huge fan of having all options available for breathing during a race.  During my last race (2 weeks ago), I did one breath every four strokes for the first 2 minutes to get ahead of the pack.  Then, I settled into bilateral breathing to better help me sight and pace myself between the buoys and the kayaks.  After a while, I settled near the rope line (as this was a straight out-and-back swim) and ended up switching to right side only the last 3 minutes while I hugged the rope to avoid the congestion of swimmers.

 

Also, I like having the options for not only choppy water, but also if the sun is in your face, or if you are feeling winded during a race.

 

During training, I almost exclusively swim with bilateral breathing, but will practice ride side only and left side only during my cool downs to help break the monotony.



2013-07-15 3:38 PM
in reply to: condorman

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys
At 6'2" and 240lbs I was comfortable breathing on my right only and every 4th stroke but after one session of open water I learn the importance of bilateral breathing as the steady south wind was creating a nice chop coming from my right. The next week all I did was breath every 3rd stroke, I actually had to count as I exhaled underwater one two three breathe, one two three breathe. It was maddening at first but I am comfortable with it now. I am hoping that my next open water swim goes much better as I am betting there will be a south wind again.
2013-08-26 11:52 AM
in reply to: SoberTriGuy

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Subject: RE: Swimming for big boys
Breathing with every other stroke,whatever side, sure seems like a lot of extra physical work for me when I swim. It's like you want the air now, but is it worth the extra labor (twisting & turning) to get the air. I do whatever feels good at the time and whatever side feels good at the time. But ain't swimming great!
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