Weekly Swim Session 13 June 2016

This week have a low volume, high technique content session, looking at breathing.

Early season feedback suggests this is still the main are of concern for athletes, particularly during mass-start events. Breath holding and anxiety go hand-in-hand and can spiral out of control.  This session promotes relaxation and emphasises techniques that can be useful in open water – such as breathing leeward (away from the chop), or keeping sight of other competitors who may be on either side of you.


2 – 5 minutes sink-down drill

4 x 50m as 100m easy, 100m steady, focus on relaxed exhalation into the water

 Technical Set

100m breathing every 3 strokes (2 strokes for unilateral breathers)

100m breathing every 5 strokes (4 strokes for unilateral breathers)

100m breathing every 7 strokes (6 strokes for unilateral breathers)

Main set:

200-300m (8-12 lengths) breathing to right side only

200-300m (8-12 lengths) breathing to left side only

200-300m (8-12 lengths) breathing bilaterally

200-300m (8-12 lengths) 2 breaths right, 2 breaths left

Warm down:

200m – 400m Easy, down to very easy focussing on relaxed exhalation.

Total distance (average) 1500-2100m

Coaching Points:

Observe lane etiquette

During sink-downs, try to relax throughout.  After exhaling, break the water’s surface gently to take a small breath, rather than launching yourself from the water to gasp in a lungful of air, re-submerge and gently exhale, promoting continued relaxation.  This might sound familiar to yoga practitioners.

While swimming, take smaller breaths than you might be used to (its less to blow out). If you find yourself rapidly exhaling at the point of rotation, you may be taking in too much air to start with!

If you’re normally unilateral and moving to bi-lateral or unilateral on the ‘weaker’ side, make your first breath on the ‘weak’ side – start as you mean to go on!

2 thoughts on “Weekly Swim Session 13 June 2016

  1. Hi,

    all questions are warmly welcomed and whether its been covered before or not, breathing is the most common subject matter of all the swim-related questions I’m asked as a coach.
    Here’s a you-tube clip of another coach delivering the sink down drill to his swimmers.

    What I like to reiterate to swimmers is that this is a relaxation exercise and gets the swimmer used to exhaling in water. The key is to not exhale to the point where you become anxious and then launch yourself through the surface of the water, gasping for air – that would only serve to underline the gasping anxiety that you may be suffering while you swim at the moment.

    Instead, gently return to the surface, take a small, relaxed breath and sink back down, exhaling gently. This builds a feeling of relaxation, reduced anxiety and really supports the idea that in freestyle, whenever your face is in the water, you should be exhaling. It also helps you to appreciate just how a small a breath you need in order to support the 1 – 2 seconds of activity between breaths!

    Hope that helps. If you’d like any more advice, let me know.

    GI Tri Coach


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