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How Long Can You Hold Your Breath While Swimming?

Learning More from Our Newest Marc Pro Ambassador, Bryan Mineo

Bryan Mineo was born a fish. Ever since the age of 5, he could be found splashing in the water, refining his swimming, and ultimately training to swim across the English Channel. In addition to his own swimming, Mineo offers swim coaching at the Swim Mechanic and offers tips and unique feedback to help swimmers improve their form in the water. Marc Pro is proud to have Bryan as one of our newest ambassadors. We caught up with him to learn more about his own experiences with the sport.

bryan mineo1. How did you get started in swimming?

I grew up in hot North Texas, so as a kid, escaping to a local pool was the only way to stay cool. I was therefore in the water at a very young age and had an older brother who was a swimmer to look up to. I joined the local swim team at age 5 and never looked back. My parents had to literally pull me out of the water when it was time for dinner or chores.

2. What are your favorite types of workouts?

I’ve played around with all sorts of workouts over the years and have organically narrowed my scope of interest to almost exclusively training outdoors. This entails soft sand running, ocean swimming and yoga. I’ve found this to work best with my body, but more importantly, work best with my sport-specific focus of distance open water swimming.

3. What are your favorite strokes?

Freestyle is my bread-and-butter stroke, what I study daily, and prefer to use when in the ocean. BUT, secretly I love breast stroke the most. It’s what I grew up swimming competitively as a kid, and also my older brother’s focus. The irony is that my girlfriend happens to be a world-class breast stroker, so I rarely showcase my “skills” when she’s around.

4. Do you have a workout that always makes you feel like you are in tip-top shape?

I have a few particular circuits I do on the beach that give me an idea of where my fitness is. When I’m really fit, I like doing some threshold circuits of a 500 meter ocean out/back loop, followed by a soft sand ½ mile loop. These repeats are brutal. I figure that if I have my athletes doing this style of workout, then I should be able to handle the same workload myself. The plus side of such sessions is that I’m on the beach in 70 something weather and get to watch dolphins cruise by, alongside other like-minded folks who enjoy the beach and ocean.

5. Do you incorporate any breathing exercises to improve lung capacity?

The breath is king. A signature element of my coaching and training style is the breath. I’ve found that in the open water it’s less about lung capacity, and more about finding breathing efficiency. Through some simple, intentional breathing drills, I teach my clients how to maintain a smooth, seamless breathing cycle. This not only takes unnecessary tension out of the body, but it allows your breath to sync up with each movement of your stroke. At this point, swimming becomes much more rhythmic and effective. Beyond this, I take daily cold plunges in the ocean in my speedo. (No wetsuit!) I’ve mastered this through an internal breathing practice I developed. Simply, the goal is to create internal heat surrounding your vital organs. This is done by tapping into the overwhelming mental strength we each possess, but often are unaware of how to access. It’s very powerful stuff, and honestly it becomes quite addictive once you’ve begin to conquer the cold.

6. Do you do workouts “on land?” Do you like running, cycling, or any land activities?

I feel like a fish out of water on land from time to time, although this does limit me from doing some cross-training that is functional to the advancement of my swimming mechanics and fitness. I do these workouts exclusively on the beach. I practice yoga 2-3x week, with the intention of creating length in my body and aligning these specific movements to my breath, as I do in swimming. My soft sand beach runs are 1-5 miles in length a few times per week. I’m fortunate to have a great friend who is a well-respected PT that specifically works with runners on their gait. This has helped me monumentally with learning how to fire the proper muscles while running, etc. For fun, I play bocce on the beach once or twice per week with my best buddy in town. This is our time to be goofy and level the playing field a bit.

7. What is your “go-to” dinner when cooking at home?

My girlfriend, Rebecca, is certainly the chef of our household, so she tends to be the one creating new recipes for us. She and I both eat a plant-based diet, which is a personal choice we’ve adopted over the past few years for many reasons. My favorite dish that she has made recently was a three-mushroom tacos. Everything is homemade: corn tortillas, three varieties of organic mushrooms dehydrated, a cilantro cashew sauce, guacamole, macadamia cheese, bell pepper and shredded cabbage. WHOA. This is a wildly tasty dish that anyone can get down with.

8. Are you a sweet or savory person when you are craving something?

The combination of sweet and salty is my thing. The sweets I like best are vegan baked goods. So tasty. As for savory/salty, mixed nuts are a daily staple, as well as some good tortilla chips.

9. What do you like to do during your free time?

Many people don’t get to see my other great passion that lives outside of the ocean. I’m an avid record collector and have a collection that is slowly taking over our house. I’ve played instruments since I was 5 and still currently jam locally with some guys, as well as write music in my home office pretty regularly. Music and the ocean have many parallels and I’ve found ways to connect the two via rhythm, frequency, etc. Beyond this, I love reading and watching documentaries. I’ve always been curious about how things work, their functionality and how to deconstruct and reconstruct things. Hence, why I’ve created the “job” that I have, breaking down athlete’s swimming mechanics and helping them to find their most efficient stroke.

10. How do you incorporate the Marc Pro into your training routine?

The Marc Pro is my nightly “ahhhh.” Daily I’m in the ocean for 3 hours and then on the pool deck for another couple of hours. As a result, my body is used pretty heavily and by the end of the day, I’m craving some recovery and relaxation. My target areas are specific to my sport – shoulders, thoracic and lumbar, and hips.

11. If you could give one piece of advice to someone trying to swim more or incorporate swimming into their workout routine, what would you say?

Focus on your breath. Allow your breath to be your ultimate feedback on how well you’re performing. If short of breath, relax both the breath and effort. Sync your inhale/exhale to the timing of each arm stroke. Most importantly, explore. Find a buddy and get out in your local body of open water. 70% of our planet is ocean and much of it has yet to be explored. It’s innate to who we are and natural to experience the therapeutic goodness of the ocean.

If you have any questions about swimming or open water, don’t be shy to ask!

Photo credit: Sexton Gallery