Yes, breathing is a natural thing that we do without thought. But when your face is in water, you do think about it. I’ve written about my quest in becoming a swimmer over the past year. I’ve gradually worked my way up to becoming pretty decent. A year ago, I was mainly doing the breast stroke and was pretty slow. Now, in a good week, I swim 6 miles. A bad week is usually three. I do a mile and a half each time I get in a pool.
It took me awhile to be able to freestyle swim. The timing of the breathing and coordinating all of that kicking, etc was very difficult at first. I’d get a few strokes down the pool and suck in water and switch back to the breast stroke. Then, I’d try again and make it a length. I methodically worked my way up to swimming full laps and ultimately alternating each freestyle lap with a breast stroke lap. All the while, I was developing a particular problem…
Both my chiropractor and massage therapist could tell that my neck muscles were getting more developed on one side. I could turn my head one way more easily than the other. Swimming does wonders for the rest of the body. But when you repeatedly breathe on the same side, you can have some neck issues. Ever since they noticed this, I’ve been periodically trying to breathe on the left instead of the right. I’ve been having one heck of a time for months. I started trying to do it last spring. I can finally say that this week, I can do it.
I’ve been swimming with the girls’ swim team at school. Being able to ask the girls questions about strokes and ask the coach for suggestions has really helped. The coach suggested that I use a pull buoy. A pull buoy is a floatation device that you hold between your legs so your arms are doing all of the work. It allowed me to concentrate on my breathing and not worry about my legs. I found that it’s easier to alternate sides and breathe every 3rd stroke. This also regulates your breathing more. I don’t feel like I’m breathing as fast and therefore I’m not “huffing and puffing” as much after a lap. It also seems more efficient and feels like I swim faster. Today I was able to swim a lot of my laps with the alternating breathing. It’s still going to take practice. But I’m definitely feeling confident that I’ll be able to master it!