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Hypoxic breathing simply means that you gradually increase the number of strokes you take between breaths, and you can practice this during sets to prepare for open water.
Open-water swimming will seem much less intimidating if you can hold your breath for several seconds, or postpone your breath for a stroke or two. This skill comes in handy if the water is super cold, or choppy, or if you get dunked while swimming around a buoy.
Use your imagination to come up with all kinds of hypoxic patterns and sets, and try using a pull buoy so you can settle in and really focus on your breathing.
If you’re comfortable breathing every 5 strokes or more in practice, you can survive almost any kind of waves or dunking in open water, and will race with more confidence.