General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start? Rss Feed  
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2013-09-09 3:11 PM


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Subject: Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start?
Hi all,

This is yet another "open water swim panic" post but with a twist....as I posted before, I am a very slow swimmer and was the most nervous about the sim portion of my HIM this past weekend (side note: I finished my first HIM! Hooray!). But, I did have a very hard time at the start of the swim and wanted to get any tips or ways to prevent hyperventilating before I do my next race.

I tried to follow all the tips listed by others, including practice OWS in my wetsuit, do the warm up, etc. I am not actually afraid of the swim, it's more like I get an adrenaline rush at the start of the race and seem to hyperventilate as a physical response. This happens when I do running races too, but its way easier to run through it than swim! Yesterday I knew my heart was racing before I started, i walked through the steps mentally to calm down, stayed off to the side and back, started with a slow breast stroke, etc. it still took me to the first buoy to get my breathing under control enough to free style. Then I was fine.

What I'm hoping to hear are some good ways to center my breathing before I go out- something to stop the racing heart and instinctive hyperventilating that comes along with it quickly. Again, I'm not scared of drowning or any of that- but my body seems to be reacting that way even if my head isn't!

Any help or good methods are appreciated!

Thanks,

Melissa


2013-09-09 3:18 PM
in reply to: Mellie03

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Subject: RE: Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start?
I like to do bobs for the minute leading up the the start. Granted the water's shallow, but I just put may face in, exhale completely, come up for air, then repeat. I try to do this with a really long thorough exhale. When the gun goes off I'm already in a rhythm.

I used to hyperventilate too and have had no problems since I started doing this.

Ted
2013-09-09 3:43 PM
in reply to: Mellie03

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Subject: RE: Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start?
Have you tried really deep and slow breathing beforehand? Like really inhale slowly through your nose until it is impossible to take in any more air, then exhale slowly through your mouth until it's impossible to exhale any more. Breathing like this takes me 30 seconds per inhale/exhale cycle, so two full breaths takes an entire minute, longer if I'm already relaxed. Before any race (or public speaking) I do this for 5 minutes, right up till the gun. It is almost impossible for my body to be in a state of anxiety immediately following the 5 minutes of slow/deep breathing.
2013-09-09 3:54 PM
in reply to: Mellie03

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Subject: RE: Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start?

I struggled with my breathing and HR in my first few OW swims.  Very frustrating, especially since I came from a swimming background.

The thing that helped me was to mentally ignore that fact that I was in a race and instead just focusing on swimming from point "A" to point "B", at a pace that felt comfortable based on my training. 

I just tried to be smooth and not worry about my pace.  

Once I got a few good swims under my belt, my confidence skyrocketed and the breathing and HR became non-factors.

Along the way I discovered that a slow and steady freestyle is much faster and requires much less energy than any other combination of strokes.  Now if I do need to catch my breath, rather than switching to breaststroke, I just make a bigger body roll to take a longer breath.

The other thing I learned is that if you just swim at a steady pace you'll end up catching and passing a lot of people who went out too hard at the start.

Hope this helps.  Good luck.

Mark

 

 

2013-09-09 4:05 PM
in reply to: Mellie03

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Chicago, IL
Subject: RE: Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start?
I have a similar issue at the start of literally EVERY open water swim. Practice or race.

I've found that the following helps me to deal with it, with minimal disruption:
Ideally, there'll be some space for a practice swim, before the race starts. I'll go and swim fairly hard, for about 50 yards, and without fail my breathing will become laboured, and my pulse will race.
I'll stop and tread water, or just stand if it's shallow enough, and take a long, deep breath. Sometimes it doesn't work first time, so i'll take another, or i'll swim another 20-30 yards and repeat. Eventually, i'll take a breath, and it feels like another chamber of my lungs opens up, and fills completely. Once that happens, I'm good to go for the remainder of the race.

Sometimes, even if I do it in the practice swim, I'll need to do it again at the start of the race (i blame this on my nerves). I'll just breaststroke, or tread water, and do the same deep-breathing routine.

Not very scientific, but it really works for me.
2013-09-09 4:42 PM
in reply to: indianhillsted

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Subject: RE: Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start?
Originally posted by indianhillsted

I like to do bobs for the minute leading up the the start. Granted the water's shallow, but I just put may face in, exhale completely, come up for air, then repeat. I try to do this with a really long thorough exhale. When the gun goes off I'm already in a rhythm.

I used to hyperventilate too and have had no problems since I started doing this.

Ted



x2 This definitely helped me. I had this problem too and would have a mini panic attacks for the first 500M. Go out just beyond the surf break and slowly submerge releasing all your air. I was told that in the beginning of the race you don't get out all the CO2 out between breaths. Focus on big exhales early in swim.


2013-09-09 7:11 PM
in reply to: Mellie03

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Subject: RE: Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start?
Congrats on finishing your HIM!

Practice getting your mind to calm down. Picture yourself in a calm lagoon, just floating on top of the crystal clear water with a warm sun and gentle breeze. You can even visualize yourself as a sea turtle just floating along. Relax, and breathe deeply. You can practice this at the pool or at the OWS or even on the drive to the swim. Practice holding these calming thoughts longer and longer, including the first 2 minutes of your practice swims and then the first two minutes of the event.
2013-09-11 12:54 PM
in reply to: indianhillsted


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Subject: RE: Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start?
Thanks for all the tips! The bobbing idea sounds very good. I appreciate all the help!
2013-09-11 5:09 PM
in reply to: stevecamacho

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Subject: RE: Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start?
Originally posted by StevenC

Originally posted by indianhillsted

I like to do bobs for the minute leading up the the start. Granted the water's shallow, but I just put may face in, exhale completely, come up for air, then repeat. I try to do this with a really long thorough exhale. When the gun goes off I'm already in a rhythm.

I used to hyperventilate too and have had no problems since I started doing this.

Ted



x2 This definitely helped me. I had this problem too and would have a mini panic attacks for the first 500M. Go out just beyond the surf break and slowly submerge releasing all your air. I was told that in the beginning of the race you don't get out all the CO2 out between breaths. Focus on big exhales early in swim.


I do this as well. If the water is cold sometimes I have to do several before I can even start my warmup.
2013-09-11 8:03 PM
in reply to: JZig

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Subject: RE: Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start?
Not sure if this will help or not.... I have found that when that happens i find that i am not exhaling completely and actually hold my breath instead of breathing out under water. Not sure if that increases an oxygen debt or what but it builds up but I will get that "I need some frickin air now and this suit is too tight and the water too cold and the water too deep and the swim too long". I focus on fully exhaling and breathing slowly and it stops quickly.
2013-09-11 8:17 PM
in reply to: Mellie03

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Subject: RE: Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start?
In addition to all the suggestions given, frequent open water swim practice will help!

Brian


2013-09-12 7:31 AM
in reply to: Mellie03

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Subject: RE: Breathing practice or any tricks to help before swim start?
The first thing I do before lap swim is to swim underwater for 1 lap. Really paying attention to releasing all air before I get to the end of a length. When I cover one length, I take a few deep slow control breaths. Then, I head back doing the same thing.

In OWS, I close my eyes, pretend I'm in the pool, hold my breath and slowly let the air out.

I get in a trance if I listen to the bubbles. That helps.
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