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Fight fatigue in freestyle by learning to pace yourself -- and to relax.
If you are a distance swimmer or triathlete concerned with losing steam halfway through a race, or you're simply looking to get through workouts without being exhausted and out of breath, it's time to focus on swimming smarter, rather than harder. For effective freestyle, the most common stroke swum in distance, open water and triathlon events, focus on breathing technique, position in the water, rotation and pacing.1.
Breathe bilaterally. Get more air into your lungs by breathing to both sides while swimming freestyle for a more productive -- and much less stressful -- swim. If you're like most swimmers, you probably have a favorite side to breathe on, but conditioning yourself to breathe to on both sides during freestyle can actually improve your oxygen intake, according to USA Swimming. Learning to breathe bilaterally can also help you improve your body position in the water, reducing drag so you can focus your energy on speed when you need it, rather than fighting the water's resistance.2.
Find your body line in the water to streamline your stroke, making it more efficient and less tiring. With your center of gravity in the hips and your center of buoyancy in the chest, your body has a natural tendency to float upright in the water, according to USA Swimming, causing your hips to sink as your upper body lifts up. This imbalance means you have to kick harder just to keep your legs up. By balancing your position in the water you can also significantly cut down drag from water resistance. Do this by lying flat in the water, lowering your head -- think chin-to-chest -- and bringing your hips and legs up so that they are at the water's surface. From there you can focus your kick on powering your stroke, rather than fighting the water to keep your lower body up.3.
Pace yourself and relax as you swim. Break down your workouts into small sets -- a set distance or number of laps -- that you can complete without becoming exhausted. If you find that you're tired after a set, rest before the next one. Once you can cut your rest down to just 10 to 15 seconds between short sets without feeling tired, decrease the time between sets until you can combine them without stopping to rest. This way, you will slowly train your body to swim longer distances at a pace that won't tire you out. To increase overall speed, go back to swimming shorter sets -- at a slightly faster pace -- with brief rests in between. Once again, gradually reduce rest time between sets until you are swimming longer distances at the faster pace.