I recommend having a coach look at your form to give tips for improvement. I'm a 30-mile a week runner and had avoided swimming as cross-training because I could barely finish 100 yards without gasping for breath and feeling my heart pound in my chest. I took a class that started with form drills and eased into strokes. These drills included how and when to breathe during the stroke. Now I'm much more relaxed in the pool and can finish 700 yards in 45 minutes feeling worked-out, but not beat up.
I agree with Archimedes. Our muscles adapt and get pretty efficient at any exercise we do regularly. Your muscles are adapted to regular running, but when you switch to a new exercise, they are far less efficient, which is why you are getting fatigued in just a few minutes. If you continue to swim regularly, your muscles will adapt to this, and you will find swimming easier.
The other thing is that the arms are the main thing propelling you through the water, and there is a lot more arm effort in swimming than there is in running. These muscles may not have built up the endurance that your leg muscles have.
The other thing about swimming is breathing, and trying to find a breathing pattern that fits with your stroke. It is possible that you aren't breathing often/deep enough, and the lack of oxygen is what is holding you back.
Thanks! So I guess I should add a lap per week and build up, just like I would run? It's tough because with running you can do walk intervals until you get going (aka C25K) but with running you can't exactly slow down (without sinking LOL). I guess the only other thing would be to do the lower impact strokes every other lap, like the side stroke or the frog stroke? Anyone have any good suggestions?
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
2,277 10/23/13 1:57 P
Also, just think about the physics of it. When you run, you're propelling your body through a material much less dense than water is, so that will increase the effort your muscles have to put out. When I started swimming regularly, my breathing was all out of wack with my strokes so that made it hard to get a good breath while moving in the water. Running breathing is a different pattern than swimming breathing therefore it takes some time to find your rhythm. So like Archimedes said, swimming will get easier if you do it more.
Fitness Minutes: (214,125)
20,991 10/23/13 1:49 P
Your body has adapted to your running schedule, it hasn't adapted to any swimming you do. If you were to swim on a regular schedule, you would notice that your cardiovascular abilities in the water would improve to a point when you are not out of breathe any more. It's all about your body adapting to the new routine/exercise.
I took a cardio aqua class today which only burned 115 calories per my HRM so I decided to do some laps in the pool. I only did 4 laps before I was significantly out of breath. That only took about six minutes.
I run about 20 miles/week, and can run 6 miles in an hour, and am never out of breath. Why is it so exhausting to swim for only 6 mins? The confusion is further compounded by the fact that my heart rate while swimming is less than running.
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