Swimming endurance


I am relatively knew to triathlon but looking to start up. I have been a runner/rider and swimmer since I was a teenager but have never put them all together before. At the moment I don't have a decent bike (so comps are not an option) but have been gyming it for cycling and doing lots of running and swimming.

I swim in a 50 meter pool and find after about 100-200 metres I need to have a rest due to uncoordinated breathing.. the first 100-200 is fine and steady but after  while I feel like it becomes a struggle to breath out underwater. Anyway, other than just doing laps and getting used to it.. is there anything to increase endurance for swimming?


  • Yes, same principle as running usually ... slow it down, breathe nice and naturally,  breathe out slowly and dont take a huge gulp of air in
    Its all down to technique   image

  • I found that breathing from my stomach, rather than my chest, helped.  It seemed to make me breathe much more freely and in a relaxed manner, as Meldy points out is important.

  • You are probably either trying to suck too much air in, or moving your arms too fast that your lungs can't supply enough air.  Try relaxing the breathing and slowing the arms down and see whether either help.

  • I try to concentrate on pushing the front of my arm out.. stretching the front arm. I have you tubed good swimming form.. 

    I will take all your suggestions and try them out image

    p.s also trying to nail the tumble turn which at the moment is equalling only one leg making contact with the wall and a whole pile of water going up my nose!! I must look rather special!! 

  • Blow out gently through your nose when tumbling and then water can't get in.

    Pushing off with one foot is ok.  If you have the lane to yourself and can swim down the middle then pushing off with both feet is easier, but if you are swimming with others and need to stay to the side then often it is easier to push off more with one foot to angle yourself towards the side of the lane

  • It sounds silly but I think I am concentrating so much about making sure my bum goes over my head that I forget to blow out! 

    Also what phase do you turn on? do you do one stroke, breathe again and then go over or try and time it after 3 strokes when you usually breathe.

    I think I am coming off one foot because I am not rolling straight but at an angle.. just practice I pressume.

  • Dibs, can I ask why you are learning tumble turns?  

    If you are struggling with your breathing already then I would personally concentrate on the 100m between turns before honing other skills
    There are several pool based tris where you cant use a tumble turn and you obviously cant do them OW

    For what its worth, I would ditch them for a while and get the rest right

  • What Meldy says!  A tumble turn is a pretty advanced skill which is cherry on top of the icing on the cake.  Essential for a swimmer but pretty useless skill for a triathlete.

    Concentrate on the stroke and swimming within your capability.  Technique first every time and then start to build endurance.  You don't want to cement any bad habits into the foundations!

  • You guys are pretty clued up and peak 100% sense. I suppose they are just cool!!

    swimming technique is difficult to nail without objective opinion. the Tri club in Bath is full up and too $$ for a student. Other than stretching out with front hand, rotating body and kicking with legs straight + looking down to keep body up. Are there any fundamentals?

    (not taking into account the already great advice for breathing which I will work on next week!)


    p.s sorry if this is such a newbie question! I don't want to annoy, just looking to improve!

  • To me, the main objective in swimming is to move your body over your hands as they come back ...

    Make sure that you are moving water and not taking the path of least resistance which is what will happen naturally.  Personally I dont 'stretch' per se but then I do have long arms.  Your kick/rotate/breathe should compliment each other and I would do some kick drills with a board so that you dont have to think about it when you swim.

    Keep the breathing natural and relaxed

  • Dibs- 2 things really made a big difference to building up my swim endurance.  The first is to keep your leg kick economical.  Don't kick in a flurry as it'll just burn up energy.  

    The second is to not go too fast.  Don't labour your stroke, but don't rush it either.

    Check out swim smooth for great tips.  This site has got me into swimming in a big way and I can't say enough positives about it.

  • If the tri club is full then look for a local masters swimming session. my old masters club was cheap as chips for non competing members and £4 a session which might mean sacrificing a pint or two but well worth it for the coached sessions you'll get. 

  • Thanks guys, 

    Meldy- I never though of it like that, making sure your body goes over your hands. I will think about that next time. I do notice that when I get tired I tend to forcefully blow out... i have to relax and almost smile/keep my mouth relaxed and it becomes easier again.

    Faithsdaddy- thanks for the swim smooth, great shout! I need to count my strokes maybe and work on cutting them down.. if I feel like I am going slow I think I kick harder and try and and increases stroke turnover.. that's probs the opposite of what is needed!

    stoatally Different- Will do, I go to Bath uni gym and its great because I am swimming next to the lane with the proper pro's. They go really quickly its incredible! Sacrifice a pint!! good lord!image

    Thanks! I will get back to you whether I have been able to implement the above!

  • Oh and to add, just noticed Swim smooth is a Western Aussie production... Which is my home image.. I will take credit for the amazingness !! 

  • First swim of the week done, follwed adive.. at first I think I was over-thinking it.. but just relaxed and everything felt a bit easier! 4 laps of a the 50m pool without a break.. so doubled what I could do last week!  I think I was just trying to move too fast and not let it happen.

  • M...eldy wrote (see)

    To me, the main objective in swimming is to move your body over your hands as they come back ...

    Never thought of it like this....makes perfect sense! Thanks Melds!

  • Dibs3690 wrote (see)

    Oh and to add, just noticed Swim smooth is a Western Aussie production... Which is my home image.. I will take credit for the amazingness !! 

    Spookily, Paul Newsome who founded SwimSmooth was at Bath University (which for a swimmer, seems to be a most appropriate university).

    So you have made the opposite journey...

  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    Breathing is the key so focus on that first. stop swimming for a second and try this:

    1) sit back into the water (fully submerged)

    2) breath out as hard as you can, emptyting your lungs. you should find that this makes you sink down to the bottom.

    3) come up when you dont want to breath out any more. This isnt about breath holding

    The purpose of this is to show you what relaxed exhalation feels like. Why bother? well When you swim, you should be breathing out whenever your face is in the water, and never holding your breath. There are two reasons for this. Firstly it means you purge the stale air/co2 from your lungs, making it less likely you feel out of breath. Secondly  it means that when your face is out of the water you have plenty of time to breath in, and do not need to rush yourself/ panic by breathing out first.

    The net result of this is less anxiety, and a more controlled (possibly more relaxed depending on how hard you go) swim.


    You will indeed find a lot of this on the swimsmooth site. I found it very useful

  • There are two other local Tri clubs near Bath.

    Frome Tri Club or Hot Chilli Tri (Trowbridge) both have availability for new members.

    They both use Richard Smith for swim coaching, I've had several swim coach sessions with him and I feel my swimming technique has improved accordinally. Both clubs have web sites and Face Book pages and are very freindly and easy going

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