The Ten Week Ironman

Coach Travis is the perfect example of how to be a serious triathlete without being too serious. In this special series of articles he chronicles his return to Ironman…in just 10 weeks

Last Sunday I showed up to the club ride with a course that I knew was going to challenge me, in fact if I’m honest I wasn’t entirely sure that I would be able to complete it having done pretty much zero training since early December last year.  For whatever reason only Shane showed up and with him having a session already set by his coach and being a much stronger rider than me I sent him on his way.  Truth be told in the recent past I probably would have turned around and ridden the ten kay home but for some reason I decided to set off on the planned route by myself, at least for a bit.  Maybe it was because I’d publicly posted the route on the club page and felt like showing everyone that the they should get back in the swing.  Hey if the lazy Prez can get off his arse and train then you should too…

Well something unexpected happened while I was out there.  I began to really enjoy myself.  Riding solo I had nobody pushing me yet I was working my backside off. The sun was shining, the hills were looking massive and the endorphins were kicking in.  With only about half the ride done and plenty of elevation in front of me before I headed homeward I went to replace my empty bidon with a full bottle and hit a bump at the wrong time.  BAM, down goes the bidon and I’m stuck in the middle of Death Valley on a warm day facing 30km home with no water.  That just made me smile and push on happy to face the challenge.  Luckily I saw Kellie and Carley on the way home and they provided me with some cool, fresh water so I didn’t melt.  Even the couple of swoops I received couldn’t darken my spirits.


Where I found my mojo

I guess what I learned last weekend was that I just love a challenge.  I live for pushing myself to see exactly how much I can hack when the going gets tough.  Last year at Ironman I thought I’d found that point but with hindsight my problem that day wasn’t that it was too hard, it was that I’d forgotten how to have fun with hurting.  Sunday I found my happy (hurty) place.  It was like flipping a light switch.

When I got home I guess Simone could see something had changed.  That evening we were sitting on the couch and she asked me whether I was training for something.  I made the mistake of smiling and she knew.  Ten weeks out and I was making a play at Ironman WA.

Now me deciding to Ironman at late notice isn’t anything new.  The first time I raced Cairns (2014) I signed up less than six weeks out. The third time I graced the course it was more like seven days, so what’s the big deal?  I guess what I want to show is that there is no big deal. Not that finishing an Ironman isn’t a major achievement because it is.  I mean that it isn’t beyond the reach of the average person (trust me I’m very average.)

So for the lead in to Ironman WA I am going to keep you all in the loop.  You’ll hear what’s gone well and what hasn’t in my week, a rough outline of my training, a few funny (or perhaps tragic) anecdotes and a lot of the weird things that go through my head.  I want to show you all that it doesn’t take a perfect life, incredible discipline or crazy hours to become an Ironman.

“Now, now” I hear you say, “you’ve got a long training history that must help” so let’s start by letting you know exactly where I was at when I made this decision.  In the prior 42 weeks (since IMWA 2017) I had done exactly 74 hours of training consisting of 36hrs of bike, 32 hours of run and a whopping 6 hours of swimming.  Of course that’s not spread evenly, almost half of those 42 weeks had no training at all. For those of you who know about such things my CTL was about 8.  So I guess we can say I’m kind of starting from scratch.

So what’s been going on this week?  Well in real Trav style my first day of “official” training was a rest day but otherwise every day has involved a swim, ride or run and getting some testing in to see exactly where I’m at, with some results way scarier than others.  It culminated in Sunday’s ride which was amazing. I got to kill myself riding up Great Eastern Highway to get to Mundaring in time to catch up with some great company for a steady aerobic ride for a couple of hours before taking the long way home throwing in some extra hills for good measure.


Some results were scarier than others

It’s important that I don’t ramp up too quickly because that’s a sure-fire way to injury or burnout. At the same time ten weeks isn’t a long time to go from bugger-all to Ironman fitness so every session is going to have to count.  I’m going to be attacking my fitness on three fronts to maximise my gains and beat the law of diminishing returns.

This coming week will be an effort fitting in three rides, three runs and three swims around a club meeting, coaching twice and trying to maintain the most important things like a relationship and remaining employed.  If you do manage to see me though, feel free to tell me what a dumb decision this is and how you could never do it.  I look forward to showing you that one of those statements is possibly right and the other undoubtedly wrong.

Trav (aka Stikman)

 

*Continue on to week two

Join our novice triathlon program!

Hi Potential Triathlete,

From 10 weeks of fun training to your first triathlon race finish – this is the only Novice Triathlon course in Perth.

If you’re like most people, you don’t know where to start.   Perth Hills Triathlon Club novice sessions are specifically targeted – at your level. Fellow participants are triathlon novices – just like you – and for every swim, bike and run session there will be somebody who is at the same pace you work at best.

You’ll find Triathlon Australia accredited coaches at every PHTC session.  Lets face it –  they want YOU to feel the exhilaration of crossing that finish line.

You can’t lose!   Training, coaching AND friendships lasting beyond just a 10 week course.

Athlete Profile – Rob W

Nickname: Slim, Slimbo, Slimshady, Slim Dusty

How long have you been in tri?: 25 years so far!

How did you get into tri?: I was trying to impress a girl so we agreed to do a triathlon, so I signed up, turned up on raceday (she didn’t) so I did the race and finished! So I thought I would train properly for one and improved heaps been doing them ever since.

How many bikes do you have?: 6 currently. It was 7 but sold one so looking at getting back to 7 next year hopefully.

Something we wouldn’t already know about you?: Most people don’t know that I am a qualified Masseur and I like both country and western music.

What do you want to achieve this season?: I want to enjoy another good season with PHTC and cheer my club mates on, share my knowledge with a new batch of novices and anyone else that wants help and keep training after the end of the season to help my recovery from my next surgery in July!

Hi Potential Triathlete,

From 10 weeks of fun training to your first triathlon race finish – this is the only Novice Triathlon course in Perth.

If you’re like most people, you don’t know where to start.   Perth Hills Triathlon Club novice sessions are specifically targeted – at your level. Fellow participants are triathlon novices – just like you – and for every swim, bike and run session there will be somebody who is at the same pace you work at best.

You’ll find Triathlon Australia accredited coaches at every PHTC session.  Lets face it –  they want YOU to feel the exhilaration of crossing that finish line.

You can’t lose!   Training, coaching AND friendships lasting beyond just a 10 week course.

Your Triathlon journey starts October 15th – book here

PS – Book now to access confidence building Nutrition and Recovery seminars as you progress through the Novice Triathlon course.

The Art and Purpose of Suffering

By Ian Hainsworth

Endurance Sport is something that we all love (after all that is why you took up this sport, right?).

Let’s face the reality – there is an element of suffering and struggle that goes with the territory.

Much has been written about suffering over the years, and I don’t want to bore you with a topic that others have covered in greater detail than I could hope to.

Instead I want to talk about that  poor cousin to suffering  – struggle.

Suffering is somehow heroic (chest burning, quads screaming at you, shoulders on fire in the pool) and we can talk about it as a physical element.

Struggle often doesn’t have a physical expression that can be observed and recognised by others, but is those times when your expectations of just how that race or even training session would turn out,  is just NOT what reality is right now.

It can be accumulated fatigue of training load, not keeping your body fuelled with the nutrition it needs, mental fatigue of long hours at work.  Who knows, just what is causing it on the day.

But what your race or training session should be looking like is not what your Garmin is saying right now.

I would like to suggest that instead you celebrate those times, because making it out the other side of struggle is what really makes for a great performance.   The timing chip or Garmin may not say this, but deep down you KNOW that you made it out the other side of struggle-town and you still put in the required effort.

You see, struggle is all about focussing on the things you CAN control.  Yes, our human minds swiftly move to the negative side of the coin and look at what isn’t working, what isn’t happening and it tends to fuel further negative thoughts.

Struggle time is the time of choice.  The choice of working with what you CAN do to your absolute best and most excellent effort, or just “make it through”.   Nobody will know that you haven’t put in your best effort – except that person that you look at in the mirror every morning. They know the truth.

Listening to other athletes experiences and reflecting on my own, I suspect there are some real truths that we can apply at the time of struggle.  Effort.  And Focus. And Technique.

By listening to our bodies and knowing just where we are at in our training, we know just what outcome (speed, pace, power) occurs with certain efforts.   Yes, we can say on our Strava comments that our run was an “easy run” but for many of us it was actually moderate to hard effort and we wanted the numbers to look a certain way.

Effort

Honestly, far better to only glance at your Garmin occasionally,  and go from true effort assessment on the inside.  Become the true expert in listening to your body and knowing just what easy feels like, what moderate feels like and what hard feels like.  Then on struggle time, you can apply a correct effort with confidence, knowing that this consistent effort will get you to the end of that race or session with the best outcome.

Focus

Focus is (at least in my head) the application of your resources – your senses, willpower, knowledge, your intellect, your thoughts – on a single matter.  There is no such thing as success when we multi task, and there is no room for negative thoughts when desiring success.

When struggling, that is the perfect time to develop the mental muscles to choose to think only what you can do and choose to block out that voice of the devil on your shoulder whispering seductively that you can’t do it.  To block out external sensory input that minimises the pain and struggle. Honestly, better to embrace and accept the pain and struggle and learn to not only cohabit with those bedfellows, but respect that whilst they have a significant impact on you they are NOT your master unless you allow them to.

Much practice is required to achieve this (more practice than you may first think is possible), which is why those days of struggle in training are a wonderful opportunity to practice focus and positivity at the very time when you feel like crap.

Technique

It is said that nature abhors a vacuum.  So, if you CANT rely on Garmin or external sensory input, what can you do?

The answer is rely on technique and in fact choose to develop and refine technique at those times when you are struggling.

I don’t mean “perfect” technique (because that is not at all practical and will add to your frustration) but rather a technique of excellence that fits what you CAN do.

For example, choose to push circles on those bike pedals, choose to run tall and land lightly on your feet, choose to focus on stroke rate or pull through length with your swim.   These are all choices that allow your mind to focus on a positive. Without the availability of positive focus, it is even easier to succumb to going slower in the face of struggle than otherwise may be achieved.

Is dealing with struggle easy?  No, of course not.  It is frustrating, often unexpected and frankly it sucks.

However, the gift of struggle is that the same mental muscles that you implement and practice in your training session and raceday are the very muscles you use when life itself is a struggle also.

Athlete Profile – Abdul

Nickname: Raf, Abs, Maddox, Dooley, Chocolate legs

How long have you been in tri?: My first event was an enticer in the Armadale Triathlon in 2013 where I stopped half way through the swim so I could catch my breath. I think the trisuit I’d never worn before was a little tight. My result

How did you get into tri?: I’ve always loved running, mainly sprinting. Started riding after signing up for the the inaugural Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer after my dad passed away. Never been a fan of swimming, as I was afraid of the deep end in school, but always wanted to improve. So I figured why not put all three together.

How many bikes do you have?: 3. One I bought, another I won a month later and my little brothers old one.

Something we wouldn’t already know about you?: I was a referee for a season in the WSBL, Womens State Basketball League.

What do you want to achieve this season?: Experience a few club events, especially the regional ones, and see what’s involved so I can hopefully help out with running a club event in the future.

Ian takes on IMNZ 2018

In the midst of a red wine inspired moment in the aftermath Ironman Western Australia, I decided that Ironman New Zealand was a convenient sort of timing to allow for recovery and developing better fitness (ie three months).

Three months of training, a test day at Sufferfest Bunbury 70.3 and devotion to strength work would see me ready to perform, right?

Perhaps I am not alone, in reflecting on alcohol as being a driver of positive thoughts, with little room for the realities of life!

Christmas, New Year, working longer hours than usual at the clinic were things I had not considered and bizarre Perth weather that had weather forecasters embarrassed and left me short of some long rides (I refuse to ride a bike in thunderstorms).

However, with the loving support of Natalie (who told me I WAS going to go to New Zealand and race having booked flights and accommodation) I set off 4 days prior to race day.

Actually I set off, my bike case set off and my suitcase set off.  Only 2 of us arrived, with the rush for plane connection in Auckland meaning my suitcase sat there for another 24 hours.

So, eventually putting my bike together (and changing into clothes that didn’t smell clearly of 24 hours sitting around) I checked in to NZ relaxed version of IM.

I did a reconnaissance ride and drove most of the course (some hills, pretty windy, roads rough in places) – some parts of the bike course aren’t accessible except for race day.

Lake Taupo is beautiful, and so I swam a little (gee, water is pretty brisk isn’t it!).

I ran the lakeside portion of the run leg, and looked at the maps (BIG mistake right there – don’t trust maps,  get first hand feel for ALL parts of the course even if it means riding it).

I picked up Natalie and Gabs from the airport the day before the race, dropped off my bike and gear and did my best to forget all about it (still feeling a bit uneasy about my reliance on maps over eyeballing the terrain) and focus on the 2 girls having a good time in Taupo.

By the way, it is easy to have a good time in Taupo.  People are really friendly and laid back and helpful.  Great place to visit, having a race is simply icing on the cake.

Race Day

Usual raceday procedure.  Get to transition early, prepare bike ornaments, make sure the wheels go around and stop when brakes applied. Make sure gear is set to big cog on back (don’t laugh, I have made this mistake more than once before and it is embarrassing trying to take off from the mount line….).   Home and have coffee with Natalie and then wetsuit on, goggles and cap in hand and try to look relaxed (I failed the relaxed look).

I found the swim start (you guessed right, I hadn’t actually done this part of reconnaissance either) and joined the hordes of admiring age groupers watching in awe as the pros lined up on start line.

Then ……….BOOOM ….  Shit what was that?  Turns out they start IMNZ with a cannon which sounded like it was next to my right ear (I don’t remember reading anything about that in the Athlete Guide).

Fortunately I had wetsuit on so any wetness didn’t show.

Deepwater start, so swim out and get used to the water temperature. Is it just me, or does anyone else shiver uncontrollably whilst the race starters tell you “3 mins to start” and give you a good 7  -10 mins before they start you?   At least I was expecting the cannon this time.

With my swim expertise, I was self seeded at the back.   Even so, I wasn’t expecting somebody to (accidentally) almost rip my timing chip off my ankle.   I panicked, as I needed that chip (Natalie and Gabs wouldn’t know where I was without it, or when to go to finish line when I was finishing).   I admit I let this moment get to me, and spent the next 10 minutes trying to get my breathing somewhere near correct order-  breath out under water and breath in when you turn your head to air.

Eventually I got the required order of events right, and the swim was actually enjoyable.  Lake Taupo is clear,  can see the bottom of lake the whole way and can sight from both the buoy line and shoreline when turning to breathe.

Swim over, I stood and jogged/walked to transition.   Who has the sense of humour to put a 300m hill to run up to get to transition out of a swim?

Bike

I changed and asked my very cheerful and friendly Maori volunteer to put some sunscreen on me (I don’t really tan, I just develop different shades of red).

This guy was really enthusiastic, and totally dedicated to making sure that sunscreen wasn’t coming off any time soon. I was winded just by him slapping it on,  but to his credit I didn’t get sunburned!

Off on the bike with Woody’s very clear instructions burned into my brain.  Eat before the hill,  take the hill moderate then get your act together and find the burn that is just right.

The bike course has a mixture of uphills and downhills,  rough road and smooth road.

Everyone knows the headwind is coming on the second lap out to Reporua, but that doesn’t make it any easier to grind your way through.

The enduring memory of the ride for me was the incredible friendliness of all the people lining parts of the bike course, farmers sitting by their front gates with gumboots on shaking their head at the yearly race that brought triathletes down their road, and the surprisingly strong smell of cow manure in parts of the ride.   Agricultural, but in a really good way.

I was told that I should ride hard enough that I believed I couldn’t possibly run  once I hit the 140km portion of the ride.  No trouble achieving that feeling,  in fact I was ahead of schedule as by 120 – 135km into that headwind I was convinced that I was cooked by the time I hit T2.

There is a really nice downhill segment for about the last 7km heading into town at end of bike course, and this certainly helped legs recover, and to be honest the mind appreciates speeding into town with cheering crowd lining the road, rather than grinding up a hill.

Run

My volunteer friend was busy with somebody else at change to run,  so I got another guy to help me.   He was slightly smaller than t1 helper (he was probably only about 125kg),  but I didn’t want to risk more body damage so left out the sunscreen.

Shoes on, cap on, race belt on,  gels in hand and I wobbled out into the run course.

Fortunately it is a few hundred metres before you get to the crowds, so some of my wobble boots had disappeared.

As I was starting, Terrezo Bozzone (winner of race) was finishing.  He was loping up the street like a gazelle like it was no trouble to have previously covered 226km in about 8 hours. Amazing.

My mantra for run was simply to ignore Garmin and focus on cadence and rhythm that would allow me to get to finish line.

This worked really well for first 3 – 4km until I hit the part of run course that I had failed to preview.

There were uphills and downhills and going around corners into territory that I had no idea what it held for me.  In truth, the uphills and downhills aren’t steep, but for a body that was feeling a bit trashed by that time and with increasing warmth of the day (unlike the forecast of rain all day) I found this difficult.

With the usual strategy of coke and ice at aid stations being employed, I ended up dicovering a new friend on the day – Red Bull.

I have never drunk Red Bull in my life before, and frankly I think it tastes like crap.   But it sure does improve mental status.   There was only one aid station that seemed to have it, but this aid station catered to athletes running both out and back into town.   So I think I had 4 big cups of this for the run, and will be back for more in future races (but will take it earlier!).   Equally, all the coke and Red Bull probably explains why I didn’t sleep much that night either.

Again I have to say that the support of the crowds on the run course is nothing like I have ever experienced before.  Super supportive, very knowledgeable and sort of like a family party type atmosphere.

Coming in to finish the second lap I went over to where Natalie and Gabs were standing and explained that I was cooked, and the last lap was going to be slower than ever. Sorry.

As I rounded the corner for last time and ran up the road towards the finishing chute, two other guys sprinted past me (they were also finishing).   Geez, who has the energy to sprint the last few hundred metres of a Ironman race.  Not me.

I was lucky enough that we had arranged for Natalie and Gabs to be present at the finishing line with Gabs giving me the finishers medal and Natalie giving me the towel (I think she was wanting to give me a can of Rexona too, but was too polite to say anything).

Will I be back?  No question,  yes.

This is a good, honest and difficult race.  I gave everything that I had on the day and came up short on my desired finish time.  However I consider myself to be focussed and persistent (both Natalie and my business partner may have used the words “bloody minded” and “obsessive”) and will continue to work on improving my health and train as hard as my body allows me too.

IMNZ 2019? I will do everything in my power to be there, be prepared and be my best.

Athlete Profile – Brian S


(c)FinisherPix.com

Nickname: Brizey

How long have you been in tri?: 4-5 years

How did you get into tri?: A dare in a spa party!

How many bikes do you have?:  2 – one road one TT

Something we wouldn’t already know about you?: I’m a spraypainter by trade now working in operations management for a paint distribution company.

What do you want to achieve this season?: sub 6 hrs at Busso 70.3 – it’s not fast but it’s a 33 minute potential PB; and complete 5 Dams ride for shits n giggles.

Conquering Karri Valley Triathlon

Floora shares her race experience conquering the beautiful yet challenging KVT.

I had been warned about Karri Valley leading up to race day (thanks team, I think?). “Great prep for Busso!”, “oooh it’s a pretty big race!”, “better take it easy, big race this weekend”. Good. No need to freak out then…

The big day had arrived. The day started with a sleep in, with race briefing not till 9:10. That’s how I like it!!! Mosey down to registration and transition at 8:30. Rack the bike anywhere, suss out transition entry and exit points, and get insider knowledge from Slim to soothe the worries.

Swim

The sporadic rain led me to get into my wetsuit early to keep warm, waddling back to the lake for the start. It was an hour between briefing and start. Anticipation was rising, the rain kept threatening, but the 147 competitors were ready. Finally it was our wave start! Quickie warm-up in the lake meant I knew what temperature to expect when diving in. Luckily it was surprisingly mild. Swimming in fresh water is definitely a different experience. And I LOVE IT! no salt drying out your mouth, calm waters guaranteed with no swell, currents or waves. I quickly found some feet and kept up with the pack for the first 800 m. After this I was in a nice rhythm and finished with 0:30:47 on the clock.

It was a long run to transition, down the driveway onto lawn. I had made the decision to leave old shoes on the way to avoid foot injuries. In hindsight I think this may have been a waste of time. As long as you run carefully and watch your step it should be fine. The organisers of the event cleared the majority of foot-injuring sticks and stones.

Ride

On the bike in my team suit. Hurray! Finally my support crew (parents, husband) could identify me from the crowd! Up the first 5km hills I was grateful that I knew what to expect on the course. First its up, then its down. Just keep pedalling. I was quick to find my cadence and fell into a comfortable form.

Channybearup Road opened up into fields. No more protection from trees. On the way out I knew there must be wind because even up hills I was over 30km/hr. As soon as I made the turn it hit me “hey, there it is!”. Blustering side and headwind all the way back to Vasse Highway. I was pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie out there. Lots of friendly people including the volunteers and marshals. First lap down in one hour. And I still felt good!

There was some slowing on the second lap, particularly in the head wind and my mind was already starting to fret about the impending run. By this time I had passed people and they were already nowhere in sight. This added to a feeling of exhilaration that I was ACTUALLY doing this and doing it well. Thank you training rides and interval training! Nutrition also worked a charm. One date ball every 15 minutes and a drink of coconut water with pinch of Himalayan rock salt. Water every 10 minutes. I came in at 2:10:26 super chuffed with myself and still smiling.

Run

Running. *sigh*. Running. The best thing about this leg is the camaraderie gets even better and you are closer to spectators who shout encouragement. Lacking the wolf pack, it was even more important for me to have my family there (and the cameras that come with them!). It made me keep my form (when in sight but in the bush this form sometimes fell apart), and gave me that extra push to keep up the 6km/min.

On the run you see familiar faces around every turn and encouraging yells and high fives started at lap 2. Yes, the run had some minor hills, but they were all short enough to look forward to going down. Being protected in the forest under shade made for pleasant conditions. On lap 3/3 I had a breakthrough, focussing on a slow exhalation ensured deep breaths and avoided the shallow panting. This made lap 3 infinitely easier. Must remember this in training! Finally, after nearly 4 hours of slogging it, I sprinted through the finish.

Finisher

A funny thing happens to me at every race finish line. Tears. Low on blood sugar, low on energy, the brain has been in a stupor for several hours with the majority constantly telling me to stop and lay down, while a small stubborn little nugget of it refuses to give in and pushes the body to its maximum. The tears come and there’s a panicky feeling of hyperventilating and not getting enough oxygen. I force my focus back on my breathe despite wanting nothing more but to lay down. Deep breaths. Eat something, ANYTHING, and then bask in glory (and champagne and chocolate and all things yummy).

Lessons learned

As my biggest event to date, I learned a few important lessons:

  1. Arrive early the day before so you can do a familiarisation ride. It gave me a chance to feel the conditions, see the grade of the road (for only a small part of course), and the ‘lay of the land’. After climbing 5km straight outside Karri Valley resort I started to set my goals for the bike leg.
  2. Want peace and quiet? Don’t stay at the resort, or near a start line of any event.
  3. If you find yourself without a wolf pack, bring family and friends.
  4. Control your breathing – avoid panic attacks that come with panting, and breathe deeply.
  5. If you see me cry at the finish line, its normal.

Absolutely psyched about Busso, more challenges and things to learn.

 

Coach’s corner with Coach Yanti

Making the transition from breaststroke to freestyle

Breaststroke provides useful mental images and drills that’ve helped many beginning swimmers/triathletes who are more comfortable with breaststroke start make the transition to a solid freestyle pull. Most beginner swimmers who can manage the breaststroke are a lot closer to freestyle than they think. The pull in breaststroke and freestyle are nearly identical.

I’ve asked newer swimmers to try doing the breaststroke with the same pull they do in freestyle (usually a straight arm windmill pull). They can’t. Somewhere here, it clicks that doing freestyle with a breaststroke pull is the way to go.

Ignoring legs/kick for the moment, I have them glide, then pull breastroke with one arm only. (Similar to several sculling drills). At some point, I get them to rotate their bodies slightly to the pull side so they can breathe as they pull.

This is a start, and one of several likely helpful breast-to-free drills. There’s no one magic formula or trick, and different images and metaphors will help make things click for different swimmers. It’s just that this one has helped so many okay-breaststrokers struggling-freestylers to make that transition, so I wanted to share it.

In my own training I do breaststroke very mindfully in the pull, thinking about freestyle, and I don’t swim it competition style anymore, since some of the motion is used to pull the head and upper body up out of the water (instead of forward the way you want in freestyle). I pull back as much as possible and stay much flatter in the water than I would doing a competition breaststroke.

I also do breaststroke pulling (with or without pull buoy). Really helps isolate pull mechanics since you WILL NOT go anywhere if you aren’t doing it right!

One last point. Most swimmers steadily exhale while underwater doing breaststroke, but “hold” their breath during freestyle, only exhaling toward the end of the stroke and finishing the exhale while their head is out of water, then inhaling. In breast and in free, anytime your face is in the water, exhale!