Lap Swimming for Surf Training

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oldman
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Post by oldman » Tue Jul 24, 2007 2:00 pm

I know that all the swimming coaches insist upon it, but why is it important to breathe on alternate sides when swimming?

Apart from the fact that it might be nice to do, what genuine 'flow' advantage is gained over someone who has good style otherwise but breathes only to the right, or the left.

Give me an answer that shows that you understand why you do it apart from the fact that you were told to.

How many strokes are suggested between alternate breaths? 3, 5, 7. I ask because I find that if I actually took a breath every 3 strokes I would be hyperventilating, and there is no way I would be emptying my lungs after only 3 strokes, and I would consider my lung capacity to be less than many on these forums.

I agree with moya that it is all about the breathing, but if there isn't some significant benefit to alternate breathing then I will have to put it in the 'dogma' box. It looks to me like one of those things that would make a difference at the elite level, and matter not a jot otherwise.

Enlighten me.

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Post by GD » Tue Jul 24, 2007 2:41 pm

oldman Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 3:00 pm Post subject:

I know that being able to breathe both sides helps when swimming in the ocean because it also gives you the luxury to choose which side to breath on. In the pool to be able to more easily check both sides of you.

I know this because I can't do it, so in ocean swimming I suffer a lot by having to breath facing the incoming swell and swallowing loads of water.
...

That said there are many good pool swimmers who do not breath bilaterally and apart from above it does not matter and generally coaches now will not worry about changing this in a swimmer. BTW Jon Konrads' things are very good.

Also if you are looking at swimming for training and not sprint times then its not much of a problem that you don't use your legs. But don't 'drag' them as such, try and focus more on your body position and bouyancy in the water and use your legs for balance while trying to keep them as straight as possible. Crossing them over while kicking slows you down so start by not kicking at all and get your top half right. You can use the foam or kickboard between your legs for this.

Just getting your body position and stroke down right will take off minutes over your 30 min 1500s. Then buy your dick stickers and kickboards.

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Post by lovinglife » Tue Jul 24, 2007 3:05 pm

swimming with shorts is basically resistance training. If yopu're interested in your times and want to improve, smugglers are the go, but if you just want to improve paddling power, simming in shorts and especially longer boardies will make you work ALOT harder. I prefer the budgies coz like someone else said you can feel the water, and over 2k's it gets pretty bloody hard. I usually only kick once per stroke, but when you see the fast guys who have that really natural stroke the seem to do about 1 solid deep kick per stroke.

Also keep in mind that paddling on a board works slightly different muscle groups than swimming in the water. I always find that muscles around my shoulder blades feel more worked on a board, than chest and triceps when swimming. All about how high you are in the water.

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Post by Rothers » Tue Jul 24, 2007 3:52 pm

oldman wrote:I know that all the swimming coaches insist upon it, but why is it important to breathe on alternate sides when swimming?

Apart from the fact that it might be nice to do, what genuine 'flow' advantage is gained over someone who has good style otherwise but breathes only to the right, or the left.

Give me an answer that shows that you understand why you do it apart from the fact that you were told to.

How many strokes are suggested between alternate breaths? 3, 5, 7. I ask because I find that if I actually took a breath every 3 strokes I would be hyperventilating, and there is no way I would be emptying my lungs after only 3 strokes, and I would consider my lung capacity to be less than many on these forums.

I agree with moya that it is all about the breathing, but if there isn't some significant benefit to alternate breathing then I will have to put it in the 'dogma' box. It looks to me like one of those things that would make a difference at the elite level, and matter not a jot otherwise.

Enlighten me.
Bi-lateral breathing is a very effective tool in ensuring that you have a balanced stroke. If you only breath to one side then you are more likely to swim somewhat 'lop-sided' and not rotate equally on both sides, thus reducing your stroke length and efficiency. Not to mention the muscular imbalance and extra soreness that you may well get through your neck and shoulder.

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Post by --++sunstroke++-- » Tue Jul 24, 2007 4:52 pm

surfingmaster wrote:I dont like men in speedos. It scares me.
Well, what are you doing perving at them :shock: :arrow: :lol:

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Post by oldman » Tue Jul 24, 2007 6:42 pm

Thanks gents and girlies,

The balance issue could have some legs as your stroke will get more distorted as you fatigue. Probably not an issue as you are powering up and down the first laps with good form, but as your form drops the alternate breathing would help bring back any imbalance that may have crept in. Possibly you will stretch one side more as well.

I don't hold to the idea that you use alternate breathing when ocean swimming, unless you are swimming beyond the breakers. The highly efficient pool stroke is somewhat useless in broken water.

Thanks again. Any other theories?

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Post by Nick-W » Tue Jul 24, 2007 7:03 pm

Oldman, the advantages of bi lateral breathing;

#Keeps you going straight, as you stretch the side you breath on.
#Increases lung capacity, opposed to the same side every 2 strokes
#Gets you swimming faster than 2 strokes as you arent changing your drag by tilting your head. Especially faster if you roll your body to breath which you arent meant to do
#Its the perfect rate of breathing for a 200m - 500m race. This is important as it keeps the haemoglobin on your red blood cells loaded/saturated with oxygen and takes away the carbon dioxide which raises your blood acidity and causes lactic acids which mean nasty fatigue.

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Post by Smolchy » Tue Jul 24, 2007 7:58 pm

After reading all the responses, I can see I have a lot of work too do before I crack the 1500 mark. Soon as I get over this damned flu its time to put in some hard work in the pool, I have learnt heaps from these posts and damn there must be some awesome swimmers on here , time to buy some dick stickers and a kickboard. I only breathe on my right side every four strokes so thats the first thing I will be working on , getting the bi-lateral breathing happening. Thanks again to all the swimming gurus.

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Post by puurri » Tue Jul 24, 2007 8:10 pm

[quote="Smolchy"]After reading all the responses, I can see I have a lot of work too do before I crack the 1500 mark. Soon as I get over this damned flu its time to put in some hard work in the pool, I have learnt heaps from these posts and damn there must be some awesome swimmers on here , time to buy some dick stickers and a kickboard.

Don't knock speedos or their ilk; it's abt efficiency in the water not "strike da pose: do da vogue." :roll:

Otherwise you might start buying Volcom/quikripabong for "street" cred etc.

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Post by kookmachine » Tue Jul 24, 2007 8:20 pm

oldman wrote:I know that all the swimming coaches insist upon it, but why is it important to breathe on alternate sides when swimming?

Apart from the fact that it might be nice to do, what genuine 'flow' advantage is gained over someone who has good style otherwise but breathes only to the right, or the left.

Give me an answer that shows that you understand why you do it apart from the fact that you were told to.

How many strokes are suggested between alternate breaths? 3, 5, 7. I ask because I find that if I actually took a breath every 3 strokes I would be hyperventilating, and there is no way I would be emptying my lungs after only 3 strokes, and I would consider my lung capacity to be less than many on these forums.

I agree with moya that it is all about the breathing, but if there isn't some significant benefit to alternate breathing then I will have to put it in the 'dogma' box. It looks to me like one of those things that would make a difference at the elite level, and matter not a jot otherwise.

Enlighten me.
In short, you're right. Unless you are at an elite level, bi-lateral breathing is not going to significantly effect your swimming times. You still meet with the same resistance in the water no matter which side you breathe. Even at Olympic level, athletes differ on their preferred method of breathing depending on the distance of the swim. For example, Hackett usually breathes bi-laterally on 400m, 800m and 1500m races and usually will revert to single-side for the shorter race of 200m and 100m (no breathing for 50m races). Also, athletes will often breathe on the side their closet competitor is swimming to watch their progress.
That said, it is probably best to breathe bi-laterally when swimming recreationally or for fitness if only for the reasons outlined by Nick-W. If that feels strange, try breathing on one side for the entire time and alternate every session.

Also, the best way to approach your kicking is to think of it in terms of kicking beats. Simply count the number of kicks every stroke. There are four common types - 2-beat, 4-beat, 6-beat and 2-beat crossover (athletes sometimes also use 4-beat crossover but it's very tough to sustain). Most swimmers swim with a 2-beat kick which is the most efficient for medium to long distances. In shorter sprints, elite swimmers will amp up to 4-beat and even 6-beat kicks which are significantly faster, but obviously far more energy-sapping. As a general rule; 2-beat for 800+; 4-beat for 200m-400m (with a 6-beat final lap); 6-beat for sprints.

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Post by Sleepy » Tue Jul 24, 2007 8:44 pm

oldman wrote:I don't hold to the idea that you use alternate breathing when ocean swimming, unless you are swimming beyond the breakers. The highly efficient pool stroke is somewhat useless in broken water.

Thanks again. Any other theories?
Very true oldman. Having been involved in pool and surf swimming for years, it's become easy for me to pick the difference between surf and pool swimmers. They're two totally different environments and lead to two very different strokes. Surf swimmers - to the annoyance of most swim coaches - generally have a higher head position, breathe to one side, and are a lot more "jerky" in the water. Swimming in the surf, you need to be able to react to vertical and horizontal changes in the water surface, and this sort of stroke seems to work best. The same stroke in still water, by contrast, is very inefficient. A flatter body position and smoother, more rhythmic stroke help you move through the water quickest.

If you ever watched Ian Thorpe closely, his balance and rhythm were quite impressive. Put him in the surf though and he'd struggle against our top surf swimmers.

Re: bilateral breathing. While many learn-to-swim coaches will tell you that it's necessary, citing some of the reasons Nick-W gives, it isn't. As kook said, watch someone like Thorpe or Hackett and both of them breathe to one side for most of a middle distance race. Though it's ideal to breathe minimally and to both sides, the benefit of the extra oxygen from breathing every second stroke in a race like a 400m freestyle far outweighs the benefits of bilateral breathing. However, watch these swimmers warm up or swim easy and you'll see them breathing bilaterally. I guess the moral of the story is that when you're training at an easy speed, it's best for you to breathe to both sides. When in the surf or going harder, it's sometimes easiest and most efficient to breathe to one side only.

And oldman, if you're hyperventilating when breathing every 3 strokes, you obviously aren't going hard enough!

eMpowered, there are other heated pools on the Nthn Beaches... Manly (not open now I don't think), Pittwater House, Institue of Sport at Narrabeen, etc. I'm not sure if the last two are open to the public though... The Warringah Aquatic Centre is a rip-off, so if you can avoid swimming there, go for it.

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Post by timax » Tue Jul 24, 2007 9:14 pm

1 more tip with the breathing is to keep 1 eye in the water and do a sneaky breath from under your arm pit. You should be looking at the side of the pool no higher and keep your chin down so your looking straight down not up ahead. and you will look more out of place in board shorts. They are not called board shorts for nothing.
If your swimming in the surf forget every thing I just said.........except the board short bit...........if your swimming or body surfing speedo's are the go.

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Post by bc » Tue Jul 24, 2007 9:55 pm

i joined an ocean swim squad at Tama, and started doing biathlons over last summer. Motivation is a big thing, and I can swim far further when there is a reason to. By the end of summer we were swimming to Bondi & back, not at a fast pace, but its a decent distance. Prior to that, I was having trouble clocking 1km in the pool. Ocean swimming is more fun too - knowing you have to get to the other end of Bondi, rather than 20 more laps is far more fun.

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Post by willie » Tue Jul 24, 2007 10:17 pm

cant be bothered what has been written already

but.


shove a pull buoy between your legs.

hey presto, surf swimmin training.

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Post by Smolchy » Sat Jul 28, 2007 2:22 pm

Great advice fellas. Got over the flu, I hit the pool for the first time since posting this thread , and tried moyas technique of swimming as slow as possible concentrqating on breathing, this worked well I swam an extra 150 m easy before having too rest , Ive got the bilateral breathing happening as well and found i swam nearly double the laps i normally would all up. Thank you everyone who inputed its helpred me a lot, I bit the bullet and bought some dick stickers today so tomorrow Ill see how much of a difference today, got a bit of a cheeky grin from the sexy sales assistant at big -w when I asked her where abouts they where. I bought the el cheapo dick stickers big w - $12.95, the proper speedos in sports shop where $34.95 . No way I was paying that for basically just a pair of jocks made off some silky material. Getting a kickboard tommorrow
peace out

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Post by emerald snake » Wed Aug 01, 2007 9:14 pm

enjoyed the posts re swimming technique.

however there was only one post about the benefits of swimming for paddling. the main benefit of swimming for surf training is in its way of increasing lung capacity. great to decrease breaths per lap for those long hold downs on big days.

the only good way of training for paddling is paddling. swimming works different muscle groups. as a physio ive treated loads of people with neck stiffness even though they swim alot. with paddling, you work your lower traps and rhomboids. swimming actually strengthens and hence tightens the pecs to the neglect of the back muscles. so to compensate for this, people will have to extend their neck excessively to remain upright.
so you might find your triceps and shoulder endurance is good but will have lower endurance due to poor back endurance and neck pain.

so as well as swimming you should do some upper back and neck exercises to combat this. also stretch out the pecs.

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Post by Nick Carroll » Fri Aug 03, 2007 5:30 pm

^^^
emerald snake I disagree, swim training has benefits beyond the aerobic for paddling; it causes one to focus on length and line and catch much more closely, because you're having to do without the artificial assistance of a floaty surfboard.

Swim training also teaches you the biomechanics of the high elbow, which is key for most surfers who'd like to improve their paddling pace.

I also would dare to gainsay those who reckon pool swimming leaves a swimmer at a disadvantage in ocean swimming. Maybe tell that to Ky Hurst or Naomi Flood. What disadvantages a swimmer in the ocean is fear and/or ignorance of the surf environment; take that away and a well trained pool swimmer will blow any "natural" surf swimmer out of the water every time. Thorpey or Hackett in the surf would ruin everyone.

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Post by emerald snake » Fri Aug 03, 2007 5:47 pm

nick, point taken.

however the biomechanics of a high elbow action whilst paddling must surely be promoted by adequate back extension. having poor static back strength will do nothing for a high elbow action.

i am making the point that whilst swimming has obvious cardio benefits, it is not a total substitute. nothing is except developing good paddling technique by paddling. as you say, swimming will have benefits, but i believe these will be minor advantages like learning to catch the water and cadence of stroke. paddling is highly task specific and if one cannot access the surf, why not bring the board to the pool and paddle up and back for 1km instead of swimming it. you may look like a goose but i'd say it would be more beneficial.

theres a thesis topic in this....

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