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Breathing at the Walls

  • What advice do you have for a 500 swimmer in college when it comes to breathing at the walls? I find it difficult to refrain from breathing both before the turn and out of the turn. I always take at least one stroke before breathing when I come off the wall, but when I get tired I feel like I have to breathe on my last stroke going into the wall. My coach says I should take at least two strokes into the wall and two strokes off the wall before taking a breath, but when I do that I feel like my lungs are about to explode. Does anyone have any advice for me?

  • Hi there! I sometimes have the same problem, and I'm in your same position. Personally, I've found working on breathing to be the best bet. I slap some fins on, and simply work on 25s, holding my streamline for as long as possible, and then easy to finish out the 25. I think it's mainly your lung capacity and building up.

  • I agree, it's all about breath control. A great tool to help you build lung capacity and co2 tolerance is a swimmers snorkel. I have used and like the Finis Swimmer Snorkel, also purchased the cardio cap which further helps the cause.

    However, I have just discovered TYRs version of a swimmers snorkel, the Ultralite, on, and really like the fact that they have two different air restrictor caps - 60% and 30% - to accessorize! Perfect way to gauge your progress!

    Essentially, what gives you the urge to breathe is increased levels of co2, once you build up your co2 tolerance, you will feel much more comfortable holding your breath for that long; going in, and coming out of, turns.

    If you're interested, taking a freediving course is a great way to learn some breathing techniques, more about the respiratory system, and how breath control can help you feel more comfortable, and ensure you work more efficiently, in any aquatic sport you are participating! Good Luck!!!

  • Any chance you could swim a bit in open water where there are no walls? I find that when I transition from my normal pool (25m) to a full-size (50 m) that it takes me about three days to get my fitness level up to the longer distance between walls. The more I swim in open water, the less time it takes to adjust.

  • i agree i have trouble with the same thing its all about breath control i am also a 500 swimmer,who has been trying to get this down i find it helpful use the fins with 25s and streamline like Maggie c said, or a snorkel would work as well, like Julie f said but if you try this and you still have to breathe then just make sure that last pull stroke going into the wall is very efficient and grabs as much water as possible to make up for the used breath.

  • You might begin by limiting your rest time at the wall, working toward shorter times until finally a flip turn with no breath.

    Also, working on various breathing patterns helps improve control. Breath every stroke, every 2 strokes, every 3 strokes, every 4 strokes, etc. Breathe both sides.

  • Luke,

    Great question and you may not like my answer. If you want to hold a breathing pattern in a race you have to do it every practice, no matter the distance and no matter the interval. You have to do it the entire season and then at the end of the year you will be able to do it when you are racing.

    In college, our coaches in Auburn made us hold breathing patterns around the walls. We had to do it every time no matter what or everyone started over. One person messes up and everyone does the entire set over. In freestyle, we had to take 1 cycle (two strokes) into the wall and 1.5 cycles (three strokes) without breathing. It was terrible but we got used to it. At first we were a little slower but after about a month of doing it, we were able to swim our best while doing it.

    Hope this helps.

    Mark Gangloff

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