Don’t think. FEEL…


I posted recently about the “more you know, the more you realise you don’t know“. The thing I didn’t mention at the time was that it is also possible to theorize yourself into a corner, hence the title of this post (A Bruce Lee rip-off from Enter the Dragon). Along those lines, I had a minor breakthrough at swimming this lunchtime.

I’ve been trying to elongate my stroke in an attempt to become more efficient, and I’ve been struggling to get used to a new breathing pattern. I’m no champion swimmer, but I figure if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it properly. Anyway, there’s one guy at the pool I always struggle to pass. He swims a little bit quicker than me, but he turns slowly, which allows me to catch up, and ultimately pass him, but it’s a real struggle. Before I got into the pool today I spent a few seconds watching him swim and I noticed his stroke rate was significantly quicker than mine. I decided that I would match his stroke rate and see what happened…

The quicker stroke rate seemed to complement my new breathing pattern, which suddenly felt more natural than the old one had, and I just felt like I was practically sprinting, but I wasn’t getting tired. I managed to keep up the same stroke rate for the whole swim and took about 90 metres out of the guy by the end.

I realise I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the specific work I’d been doing on the stroke and breathing pattern, but if I hadn’t just forgotten all that today, I think I would have spent the next few weeks still struggling.

So I guess the moral of this post is, like it’s title is, Don’t think. FEEL… 🙂



Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

7 thoughts on “Don’t think. FEEL…”

  1. …one of my all time favourite movies is Enter The Dragon – must have seen it a thousand times!

    Interestingly, I’d read somewhere recently that “better/quicker” runners tend to make more strides than less – they don’t have longer strides as one might imagine…which seems to fit in well with what you’ve found there.

  2. The breathing is the key because it’s what helps you motor (comparatively) without tying up. Staying relaxed is what matter combined with lenghtening the stroke.

    Personally, I find breathing every third left stroke works for me (i.e. every sixth arm pull left and right).

    However, for each length I normally breath on the first left stroke – which always seems a waste because I don’t really need to breath then. Am trying to delay it to the second or third but it’s affecting my overall relaxation at the minute.

    Sorry – what a bore, talk about going on and on….

  3. Jeff: Yes. Totally cool film. It rules!

    Dominic: You must be part dolphin to breath that little. I used to breath only on the left, every 4th arm pull, like:

    1-Breath left stroke left.
    2-Stroke right.
    3-Stroke left
    4-Stroke right.
    1-Breath left stroke left.

    I got the the point where I felt I couldn’t get any faster without more oxygen. I’ve switched to alternating breaths on every 3rd arm pull, like:

    1-Breath left stroke left.
    2-Stroke right.
    3-Stroke left.
    1-Breath right stroke right.

    It was hard work to get used to. It felt like I was thrashing my head for a while. It’s working very well now and it allows me to get that bit more air so I can maintain the speed without puking.

    How do you cope with so few breaths? If I swam slowly it would be so long between breaths I’d pass out. If I went fast my oxygen debt would be enormous! You must have some serous lung capacity, or be incredibly fit, or both!

    I also found breathing on one side annoying when I came to turn. If I breath too far from the wall I feel like I’m going to die by the time I surface from the turn. Being able to breath both sides gives me the chance to alter my pattern as I approach the wall if I need to.

    Don’t worry about boring me. The more information the better. If other people don’t like it they can avoid the comments. 🙂

    Are you a club swimmer, or just a fun swimmer like me?



  4. I was just reading your comments and wanted to double check that I do breath as I said I do (I do). Realised that a couple of people were looking at me as I simulated swimming at my desk. What a wally….

    Just do it to fight the constant losing battle against eating/drinking too much. I’m not incredibly fit at all – I wish – but been doing it for years. Then again it’s not often that I get overtaken.

    I found breathing every four was just too often, didn’t like breathing on the right but had to work hard to get six to be comfortable. Must have big lungs.
    In a 25m pool, I usually find the first 25 or so easy, the next 50 is a bit of a battle against tightening and the next however many are easy again and every six is just easy and I can sometimes just about extend that out to two breaths a length (but not for long). Hope that doesn’t sound like showing off (it would be pretty stupid showing off – look how few breaths I can take in a length :))

    It’s such a good exercise. There’s a bloke at a pool I used to go to who is something like 82 or 83 and he butterflies up and down but last year was he decided to retire from the “Masters” national events because there was no-one in his age group anymore!

  5. Yeah. I was doing the windmill impression too. 🙂

    Wow. Two in a 25 metre pool is amazing. I would probably only do that on a sprint. I swim in a 30 metre pool. I know it sounds stupid, but that’s Birmingham City Council for you.

    I definitely feel more streamlined if I breath less, but “needs must” and all that. I read a thing on breath control and varying the breaths. Sounds interesting. Here’s the link:

    Regarding masters: I suppose getting a gold for tuning up defeats the object. 🙂

    Nice hearing from you. See, I end up geeking out whatever I do. 🙂



  6. I agree that Dominic’s breathing ( or lack thereof ) is pretty impressive.

    I guess I am much more like Tim and suck in oxygen much more frequently. I am just way too lazy to work on breathing and alternating the left side and right side.

    I tend to alternate breathing ( left side only ) between every 2 strokes and every 4 depending on how much air I need. When I do swim I usually swim continuously for an hour ( stopping only to fix goggles when needed ).

  7. Stop to fix goggles? Just close your eyes man… 🙂

    It would be great to find a whole hour. I swim during my lunch break, so I have to get to the pool, swim and get back in 1 hour. I used to do 1 mile a day, but I was pulled up for always being late back to work, so now I only do 1Km a day. I spend more time driving than swimming. 🙂



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