I recently purchased the Ameo Powerbreather (fancy talk for a weird looking snorkel) for the sole purpose of preparing for my two-way Issyk Kul swim. I read reviews online on several different types of snorkels that allowed the swimmer to restrict breathing, to be able to do hypoxic sets to prepare for swims at a higher elevation.
Yes, there are studies out there saying these things do no such thing. Restricting the amount of air you’re breathing is not the same as breathing in air from 5000+ feet (lake Issyk Kul is at 5272 feet). Air at that elevation is less dense, or something. Breathing air at sea level, even if you only breath in half as much, isn’t going to acclimatize you to swimming at a higher elevation.
But the snorkel will do two things. One, it will work my lungs harder, seeing how I’m giving my lungs only half as much air as normal. But even better, as I learned after watching the video my wife did for me, the snorkel allows me to concentrate on my pull, watching my catch and pull without turning my head to breath.
I preach not crossing the center line when entering the water at the beginning of your pull. But wow, seeing myself on video shows me that I need to work on my pull. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve been video-taped swimming, and even then I was videoed from the side. But I had no idea I crossed that line (mostly on my right). When I swim I try to concentrate on entering the water at about shoulder-width. I imagine I am. But apparently not.
All that aside, the snorkel is interesting. As you can see, it wraps around your head. You tighten it at the back of the head. I was warned to not turn to breath with it on. I made it a few workouts before forgetting and turning. But I stayed calm and simply put my head back and continued to breath…through my mouth. I’ve never scuba dived or snorkeled for any length of time. Learning to breath only through my mouth takes some work. But I’m getting used to it, slowly.
That was the hardest part. Apparently, I breath out and in a lot through my nose and mouth. Trying to “turn off” my nose with this snorkel on is difficult. There is a constant, slight feeling like there is water coming into my nose. Breathing through my mouth just doesn’t feel comfortable. But I can do it. Actually, this seems like the perfect time for a nose clip. Just, would I want to be seen wearing a nose clip?
Flip-turns, yikes. The Ameo Powerbreather suggests getting used to the snorkel before trying to flip-turn. I thought after four sessions of 500m each that I would be okay. I first stayed near the wall and dipped my whole head under the water, coming up and breathing out quickly to clear any water. Really very little water comes in. Then I tried to flip-turn.
That didn’t go well. I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden I was trying to breath in water through my nose. Gonna be a little bit before I try that again.
Honestly, I think the snorkel would be awesome while swimming on straps. That way I could concentrate on my arm pull and breathing, without having to stop to do an open turn at the wall, or, God forbid, a flip turn!