Thursday and Friday sessions last week explored breathing to different sides and the impacts this has on your swim time and what this then says about your stroke. If you missed it the set post warm up went as follows:
5 x 100m plus 30/45 seconds rest after each. Time each 100 and hold the same effort ~ 80%:
- Breathe every 2 strokes to your left
- Breathe every 2 strokes to your right
- Breathe every 3 strokes
- Breathe every 4 strokes to your left
- Breathe every 4 strokes to your right
It didn’t matter who did this test set, the results said something about their stroke. The interesting things:
Favourite breathing side: Often people swam faster breathing to their least favourite side as they have fewer bad habits breathing to that side. Wasn’t that a surprise!
Breathing every 2: Made some people feel dizzy, made others feel deliciously full of oxygen.
Balance & bad habits: One of the most common spots for a stroke error can occur when you turn to the side to breathe. The hand you turn away from may collapse oroverglide and cause drag, and the body and legs will move to compensate for this causing extra drag. This was often why breathing to the least favourite side was faster as these bad habits were not as prominent. If you had one side faster than the other, really work on the ‘hand you can’t see’ when you breathe, bringing awareness to it through drills like side kicking and Javelin and thinking bubble, bubble, strong when you swim.
Stronger Swimmers: The faster swimmers (sub 1min50/100) swam faster breathing every 4 strokes, showing that the time taken to breathe is causing some resistance. In future, for these people it is worth being aware of head position when breathing, ensuring a full exhalation before the mouth leaves the water and split screen vision, whilst swimming breathing every 4 strokes alternating each length would be a good habit to work on. This is often a small change but every bit helps!
Less Experienced Swimmers:If you are new to swimming and still coming to terms with relaxed breathing, breathing every 2 strokes can seem quite lovely as you are getting more oxygen to power the muscles. Breathing every 4 caused a challenge simply because it is something new. Working on your relaxed breathing is really good for this group of people. Ensuring the inhalation is relaxed and calm and the exhalation is effortless and smooth.
Breathing every 3: This caused some significant time gains and was often the fastest 100, even for those who had insisted they could only breathe every 2 strokes to their left!
It was interesting – why don’t you try it and let me know how you go or what you felt helped or hindered. We may try this again in a few months to see if things have changed. Happy Swimming.