TI Coach Suzanne Atkinson started a breathing thread on the TI Discussion Forum with some sound advice:
The most common breathing flaw is lifting the head, [When this happens] the hand pushes down to “buoy” the head upwards . . . forward propulsion is lost while drag soars. You have two strokes to regain your balance & streamline before it’s time to breathe again. A well balanced, streamlined breathing stroke starts with a “weightless” head that is entirely supported by the buoyant force of the water. if your head is fully supported, then your arms are freed of the duty to support your head. A weightless head enables weightless arms. Read her full post and following discussion here.
Suzanne’s strong emphasis on Balance matches my own. Over the past 5 weeks my training has been transformed by using the skills-hierarchy of Balance. Streamline. Propel. (B-S-P) as an organizing principle in every aspect of practice planning. I’ve also tried to simplify my Focal Point practice by distilling my thoughts about B-S-P to language that describes the feeling each brings in the fewest possible words.
When I focus on Balance, I’m looking to feel a floating-weightless-cushioned-supported sensation in
- hands and arms as they extend
- head – at all times, especially as I roll to breathe
- torso – including under the armpit and lat as I extend in free and roll to breathe.
Being patiently-and-acutely focused on creating these sensations has made me realize how much potential improvement I can still achieve in Balance — even 20 years after doing my first (crude) balance drill. And that my breathing – especially how I hold water with my right hand on a left-side breath – can still improve. Tirelessly seeking improvements of this sort is the only way I can contemplate the possibility of matching the times I did at 55 (which, at the time I did them, were faster than I’d swum since age 42) at age 60 next year.
Learn to breathe weightlessly with the help of Lesson Three of the Self-Coached Workshop DVD and our breathing skills DVD O2 in H2o: A Self-Help Course on Breathing in Swimming.
We will also teach efficient, comfortable breathing in special 1-day intensive Freestyle Made Better classes Dec 14 and 16 in Coral Springs FL. These classes will be led by Terry Laughlin, Shinji Takeuchi and Shane Eversfield.