I am posting this practice with my workshop students in mind. The terminology will make most sense to those who’ve taken TI lessons or a workshop before where we’ve introduced you to both the unique breathing Focal Points and the understanding for how to use them. But you are still welcome to give it a shot if you haven’t.
If you find this practice suitable to your needs, I would really appreciate you sending a report to me on your experience with it. This practice is meant to be completely customized to each swimmer’s skill level and needs. Feel free to try it, and modify it as you go. I also recommend that you use it a few times in order to measure your progress and test your increasing sensitivity to small but important details. It is my personal pattern to create a practice plan, test and refine on the first go, then run through the practice a few times (often with other practices spaced between) in order to get some strong data sets for comparison. **
Purpose: Imprint the head position, timing, and air intake of the rhythmic breath, and do it on both sides. For more, read my post Breathe Easy 2.
Focal Points (FP) we can use:
- A – Split The Face (or goggles)
- B – Turn Early (as early as possible with the Catch)
- C – Clear The Hatches (clear nose and mouth at last second before they touch the air)
- D – Quick Sip Of Air
- E – Laser Lead (keep that shish-kabob in the water, pointed down the lane)
- F – Slow Bubbles from nose (during the stroke)
The practice below will use FPs A, B, and C for the sake of an example. Pick the ones you want to work with. I recommend that you pick just three of them. But as you get into the practice, if you feel you need to switch one of them, go for it.
10 minutes gentle swimming (as gentle as you can go, until you feel your body eagerly pulled into more), using the rotated ‘interrupted breathing’ position when you need a breathe. Distance is not your objective – you goal is relaxation and bringing all systems of body and mind into the water and into the tasks you are about to do. Read more on why and how about Tune-Ups. Focus on:
- long body line
- rotating smoothing on the shish-kabob with complete control over stability and rotation
- keeping the head submerged, but for the smallest face to breathe
Pause your stroke while rotating to breath and don’t resume until you have returned completely to perfect Skate Position.
Task 1 – Drill with Breath on One Side
Approximately 10 minutes. Distance is not important in this task, stability and ease is. Drill = Superman Glide to Skate. Rotate to Breathe with the hand that goes to ‘the pocket’, and glide in perfect Skate Position to check your alignment. Stop, stand (or rest in Interrupted Breathing position), and repeat. Do this set 3x, first with FP A, then with FP B, and then with FP C:
- 3x Drill with FP A, breathe to right.
- 3x Drill with FP A, breathe to left.
Again, and do the set 3x, first with FP A, then B, then C:
- 3x Drill + 3-5 whole strokes, breathe to right.
- 3x Drill + 3-5 whole strokes, breathe to left.
Task 2 – Whole Stroke with Breath on One Side
600 meters. Whole stroke, full length repeats. Pick the wall to the right. One every length, you will only breath towards that wall. This will cause you to alternate between sides on each length. Do this set 3x, first with FP A, then with FP B, and then with FP C:
- Drill then continue 25 m (finish the pool length).
- Drill then 50 m.
- Drill then 75 m.
Do the set 1 more time, but now combine two of the FPs. For instance, you will hold focus on FP BC for the set.
Task 3 – Whole Stroke with Bi-Lateral Breathing
900 meters. Whole stroke, full length repeats. Do this set 3x, first with FP A, then with FP B, and then with FP C:
- 2x 50 m, with breathing every 3 strokes.
- 2x 50 m, with breathing at 3, then 4, then 3, then 4.
- 2x 50 m, with breathing at 2, then 3, then 2, then 3.
Challenge Multipliers for the Tasks
If you need to increase the complexity level of this practice here are some primary ways you can do it. If you are not sure, try the practice above as it is written. Then you can come back later to pick one of these, try it, and then compare your results.
- Combine Focal Points – AB, AC, BC, or even ABC
- Count strokes and hold yourself to a certain SPL N.
- Count strokes and change SPL per length on command, SPL N, N-1, N+1, etc.
- Use a Tempo Trainer at a comfortable tempo, pick a breathing pattern and hold both.
- Use a Tempo Trainer – pick a breathing pattern, pick a tempo well within comfort zone and work your way gradually toward one extreme end (fast or slow), to find the threshold of your skill. Change the tempo by no more than .02 beats per length.
- Increase the distance of each repeat (instead of 25, 50, 75 you can do 50, 75, 100 for instance).
- Increase the number of repeats (instead of 3x you can do 5x).
Use a combination of multipliers only if you can feel your body eagerly wants to be challenged more. You’ll know better if you’ve already tested yourself on lower complexity levels. If you are not sure, go ahead and try and you will quickly find out if you need to start on a lower level of complexity or not.
But everyone, by taking small incremental steps up in complexity will expand their skill level – you too! Give each incremental step in complexity some time and you’ll be amazed at how your brain adapts to accomplish the task with more ease (which means your heart rate will go down, as well as your demand for oxygen) then beg you for more. You’ll discover that your brain needs adapting more than the muscles need conditioning. A wonderful feature of the human body is that muscles will get the necessary conditioning by natural effect if you design the tasks to challenge your skills.
Everything will get easier if you train the brain with mindful practice.
Ok. Try this and send me a report (even if you read this post months later).