Is the trick to breathing to not think about breathing?

I went back to the swimming pool tonight since yesterday’s swim had not been particularly successful, especially with regard to the breathing aspect. Breathing was back to how it was last Tuesday, in that it was much easier. Indeed, the swim tonight was vastly better, which was mainly emphasised by the stats recorded by the 910xt.

The main thing I was realising while swimming my lengths was quite simple; if I concentrated on some other aspect of technique, such as “skating”, or extending my body length, then breathing became almost effortless, whereas yesterday all I could think about was breathing, and my inability to do it. So if I stop thinking about it, and concentrate on other stuff, that actually seems to help. Bizarre, but if that’s all it takes, that’ll work for me.

Last Tuesday, when I did sets of 4 lengths over and over, the difference between the first and the fourth length was significant; as much as 9 seconds each time. Tonight, the difference in the 4 lengths was a lot closer, quite often only 4 seconds different, and often the slowest length was not the last one, either.

Added to this was the stroke count; the Garmin only counts each time my watch hand (therefore my right hand) does a stroke, and last time it recorded an average of 15 strokes per length, whereas today it recorded 13 strokes on average. That’s a massive difference, and especially pleasing as I was really concentrating on two things – skating and keeping my body long. These are aspects from the TI videos and book that I’ve mentioned before. I was therefore concentrating quite a lot on trying to keep my left arm extended while I breathed, which wasn’t working perfectly I have to be honest, but was working better than it had done before.

One other thing I was doing, mainly to ensure I didn’t tire myself out, was when I was using my hips and core to rotate from side to side. Instead of doing this really quickly, I rotated slowly so that it essentially pulled my arm through the water, because I think what I was doing yesterday was rotating too quickly and therefore not getting the benefit of the power in my stroke.

So all in all, a big improvement from yesterday when I think I was attempting to go faster by trying harder, and today proved that I will go faster if I just concentrate on my technique. Once I have that a lot more sorted out, I will then work on doing my strokes faster, because I proved tonight that if I do that, I can indeed go faster; I did 2 lengths at the end with a faster turnaround of strokes, and did the lengths around 8 seconds faster than other lengths, and the last one with only 12 strokes too, so I’m definitely feeling like progress is being made.

And considering I have now been swimming 2 days in a row… well, I’m fairly sure that’s never happened outwith a holiday to CenterParcs!

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