My friends (and H) are urging me to learn to breathe to both sides as I swim. It’s apparently a good thing generally, and helps keep your technique from getting lopsided. Given that I still gag and sputter no matter which way I breathe, and that even a lopsided technique would be superior to the slap, wiggle, gag I now manage, I’m just going with the good thing approach.

The trick to good breathing while you’re swimming the crawl turns out to be exhaling fully first—weirdly and astonishingly difficult to do, especially when your face is in the water and you’re otherwise ineptly thrashing about. I admit to throwing a minor fit over this issue the other evening, which would have gone unobserved except for  the echoing crack the foam kickboard I was using made when it somehow slammed onto the surface of the water. It promises it won’t do it again.

One of the on-line sources I’ve checked on swimming suggests I try to
run while holding my breath, and then to let it all out and breathe in again quickly to demonstrate how awful it is, and then I’ll be more
likely to do it right underwater. Quite right, of course, from the points
of view of both O2 and rhythm. But I don’t need to be persuaded, I just
need to know how.

What I’ve decided is that I need to be in the pool more if this is going to work. So when I re-up in two weeks, I’ll get a full Y membership and try to get over there two or three times a week.

In other exercise activities, it’s getting almost light enough early in the morning for me to put away the blinky light and headlamp when I go out to shuffle. Probably about two more weeks for them, as well. No breathing problems to report.

In the small bedroom, I’ve collapsed sweet B’s redundant crib (she sleeps on a fold-out couch now), reestablished the Total Gym in its old spot, and begun pumping away. The usual tedious drag. But no breathing problems to report.

And in both these activities, I’m perfectly bilateral.


Bilateralism — 3 Comments

  1. I found your blog from your recent comment on Postcard from Timporley and was intrigued to find you were an O'Brian fan, and also longed to be able to improvise jazz on a sax. I have read all the Aubrey novels.I have no musical skill, but have always had that dream of playing like Rollins, Parker or Mulligan (three very different styles). I saw all the major American bands and groups when they visited the UK in the late Fiftiess/early Sixties (can't remember the years exactly).

    Going back to O'Brian, I read his biographies of Picasso and Joseph Banks – the former very boring, and the latter fascinating and totally enjoyable

    Good luck with the swimming. I don't want to boast, but I was a good competitive freestyle swimmer in my school days. My advice is to forget about breathing on both sides, slow it all down, and try to develop a rhythm..

  2. And good on ya, Alan. But, as you are a mere yoot, you haven't yet faced the profound "I'm getting old and infirm and if I don't do something about it now, I may never walk up a mountain again" panic attack I'm dealing with. Have a glass for me! Make it two.

    Sir Hugh (I've never had an armored commenter before): We do have a few things in common, don't we? On music, I'm rather like Lady Catherine de Bourgh: I never actually took sax lessons but I'm sure if I had I would have sounded a lot like Lester Young. I've never read O'Brian's other stuff. Didn't even know about the Picasso. Maybe I'll try the Banks. Thanks for your advice on swimming, which I'll try if I don't drown first. You're the third former racer who's mentioned rhythm to me. I get it, because that's always been an important element in my running, too. Not a steady beat in swimming, I'm told. A sort of syncopation?

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