> From my own experience and from what I have seen at swim meets,
> swimmers often swim quite differently during a race than during
> practice. Swimmers will do alternate breathing during practice but
> will do what's more comfortable for them during the race
> Cathy Smith
This is a very true observation, having been a collegiate swimmer
myself, I can admit that during workouts we would try to breath every 5-7
strokes during a set in order to improve breathing capacity and endurance.
BUT....during meets we would most naturally revert to what was most
comfortable for the particular swimmer. Also the distance of a race often
determines the breathing pattern. For instance, in a 50 free a true sprinter
would breath maybe twice, perhaps 3 times at the most for the entire race.
A 100 would involve more breathing, but perhaps only every 5-9 strokes, a 200
would come down to 5-7 strokes, and a 500 or more would be from every stroke
to maybe 3 or 5 strokes. It is a balance for the swimmer between maintaining
a consistant and even stroke with maximum efficiency and the need for oxygen.
Or at least that is the way I see it. I try to breath as little as possible
until my stroke starts to come apart, then I gradually decrease the strokes
between breaths, and a lot depends upon the distance of the race as well.
But, no matter what you try to accomplish during a race, you should
practice at least several sets during a workout alternate breathing. It is
valuable for keeping the stroke even and efficient, seeing the competition,
and more importantly increasing lung capacity and breathing efficiency. I
would suggest to everyone out there to do what I still do, that is tape
the Olympic swimming on your VCR and study the competitor's strokes. You
can learn a lot from watching the worlds best and how they swim....especially
in slow-mo if you have that on your VCR. I don't know if NBC will have
the underwater cameras like they did for the trials, but some of those
shots are beautiful for stroke analysis...(eg. Mel Stewart's 200 fly).
Give it a try and then head for the local watering hole and put what you
see into action and feel the difference!!!
-Good luck .... Jim.