Cr@p Swimmers R Us

Swimming Support Thread

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30/07/2009 at 18:07

Hi Pops.

I think with swimming sooo much of it is technique...  You CAN just battle on and probably would still build endurance and get a bit better, but it would be much harder work than having lessons to make the stroke more efficient.  And with an inefficient technique you would always create more drag, not get as much distance per stroke and all that.

You being a cycling expert I would assume maybe there are also technique aspects that improve ones cycling considerably (I wouldn't know! LOL), and whilst just getting the miles in and chipping away one would get more endurance and maybe get a bit faster over time, but for example it would not magically give you efficient technique to fly up hills etc?  Not sure if that's a good analogy, but I think swimming is really technical and the more 'efficient' you can get it, you'll get the most distance for the least effort.

30/07/2009 at 18:12

There are various options for learning better form and it all depends on available time, available finances etc....  On this thread people have used a mix of:

  • you tube videos of specific drills people have posted
  • local swim clubs (essentially group swimming with some bits of 1-2-1 attention)
  • swimming lessons at a local pool (1-2-1 or small grous)
  • specialist swim coaching workshops like
  • local tri clubs coached swim sessions

30/07/2009 at 21:09

Thanks for the warm welcome everyone. I am starting to worry that I timed myself wrongly or that the pool is shorter than the advertised 20m. Certainly tonight's 25m pool looked a lot bigger than the one at my gym, but maybe that's just because the whole area is bigger.

I went to a swimming lesson with tri club tonight but sadly the coach couldn't make it. I was easily the worst swimmer there and the only one who couldn't manage to put my face in the water but in the whole session I covered 28 lengths, mostly of some sort of flailing and spluttering. I can't do the maths for that, but that's a heck of a lot further than I've swum for a very very long time.

Lady Pineapple, where are you based? That group swim sounds a bargain but I suppose you'd have to be a member of your gym to go to them anyway.

ImRio    pirate
31/07/2009 at 10:13

SG.  It might be worth you spending some time just in the water not trying to swim putting your face in the water and breathing out, just to get yourself used to doing it.  You can then progress to holding onto the side with your legs out behind you and your face in the water breathing out.

Try and do some of the exercises on the swimfortri website or total immersion website and you will find that as you become more comfortable with your face in the water it becomes easier.  And then you will be using a lot less energy to swim too

31/07/2009 at 10:45

Speedy, do as Rio suggests  

Until a few weeks ago, I was totally allergic to putting my face in the water. I'd never done it and felt that it was something I would never be able to do unless somebody held my head down. Then I had a 1:1 lesson and the instructor told me to breath out through my nose while I was under water. To my surprise, it felt ok as that way, the water can't go BACK UP my nose! (which was my mortal fear). I progressed to swimming breast stroke and taking a deep breath, then putting my head under and breathing out as i swam, before emerging to take another breath. I've been practicing this alot in the last three weeks or so, until now i'm pretty relaxed about it. Not mastered the whole FC thing, but at least I can put my face in the water!!

As Rio also said, don't worry about the FC stroke for now, just practice the face in water bit. Once you're comfortable with it, you can work on various FC drills as I have been doing. I'm nowhere near swimming FC competantly, or indeed at all, but I feel i've made a huge step forwards because I've conquered my fear of going under the water. If all else fails, at least i can do that now!!

31/07/2009 at 12:02

Morning all!

Completely forgot to say - well done on your 10 lengths, Shiva - excellent work!

I'm now signed up for three-week  "Swim for fitness" course.  

It's £14 for non-gym members, but £10.50 for members like me (I'm in Sheffield, by the way, Speedy - currently at Sheff Uni working on my masters dissertation and very much making the most of a year's student gym membership paid up in advance!). 

Had a chat over the phone whilst booking, and it looks like the sessions are actually going to be very quiet (it's a uni gym so a lot of the undergrads have gone home for the summer) so there's a fair chance of getting a reasonable amount of individual attention.

Normally during term-time they have six-week rather than three-week blocks, but I think this short segment should be helpful, given my current financial limitations!

Speedy - I'd echo what others have said about the face in the water thing.  Spend time just practising putting your head in the water, breathing drills and making sure to breathe out of your nose when you face is under water. Rio's suggestions are really good for a start, and then you can move on to drills, which really, really help - I've noticed significant improvements even in the very short time I've been actually doing them.  They do help you to feel calmer and more confident in the water.

Well done on the 28 lengths though!

Believe me - a year ago I was a head-above-water breaststroker.  I've gradually built up the confidence to put my face in - it really does save an awful lot of strain on your neck!

Much of what I've learned has actually been through instinct and guesswork - I'm a fairly systematic, logically-minded person so I find it reasonably easy to actually work certain things out based on pure mechanics.

But I did find myself getting to a standstill, and obviously you can never watch yourself swim (unless you're filmed doing so) so the multitude of drill examples from YouTube and other Web sites has really helped, and I'm hoping a little bit of instruction will move me on further and help me tidy things up.  1:1 lessons are the long-term plan though.

31/07/2009 at 13:06
CC2 - Speedy Goth wrote (see)

I was easily the worst swimmer there and the only one who couldn't manage to put my face in the water but in the whole session I covered 28 lengths,

eek - 28 lengths - the worst swimmer there !     Sounds pretty good to me.  

31/07/2009 at 14:39

Aft'noon Peeps.

Once again, lots of chat of progress on here which is encouraging and supportive.

I pootled down to my pool this morning on my own as Jr S was otherwise occupied.  And guess what....





I did 20 lengths proper FC! .  I increased rest interval to 90 secs right from the start and managed to do it.  Length times varied between 35 and 45 secs a length.  I could tell when I had done a fast length as my breathing was quite heavy at the end of the particular length.  I also noticed that, at one point, I was trying to keep up with someone in the next lane so knocked that on the head straight away.

I only lost my rhythm once and that was on length 14 but I just stood up and then got back on with it.

Also, on the last couple of lengths I was able to breathe in slowly ie not the short violent gasp I normally do and noticed that I was more relaxed when I finished those lengths.

It was quite tough for me this morning, both physically and mentally.  Breathing was a little laboured, legs were wobbly when I got out of the pool and I blubbed privately in the sauna because I was shattered, but proud that I had achieved something after trying for so long.  Made me realise what guts and determination you Iron Guys must have.  Total respect to you!

I am scared tho that I will make a total (o) of myself and Nantwich and am contemplating pulling out.  I can't see that I can progress to 500m with no rest intervals in 7 weeks.  Am I being pessimistic or is it realistically achievable?  I can prob train three times a week.

I notice that people on here advocate breathing out through their nose?  Is there a particular reason for this as I breathe out through my mouth.  Just wondered if there were any advantages to either technique or whether it comes down to personal preference.

Also there is a lot of talk of drills on here lately and now prepare yourself for a numpty question.......

What purpose do they serve?  And at what stage should you be doing them?  Am I better off just concentrating on covering the distance at the mo (please bear in mind my difficulty with swimming)?  Or shoul I incorporate them into my training now?

Ok, that was more than one question, I admit it.  Must have waterlogged my brain this morning!! 

ImRio    pirate
31/07/2009 at 14:50

Schmunkee don't worry about taking short rests at the end of each length. You will only need a breath or two and then go again.  Think relax and it will be ok.

I too breathe through my mouth. I hate the feel of breathing out through my nose.  So don't worry about how you do it just do it.  I think it is supposed to relax you more as it is less violent but just let it happen as is best for you at the moment.  It is something you can work on in the future if you need to.

Drills are useful as they can make you more efficient so use less energy to swim.  But they are not essential at this stage.  Although if you could turn one of your swims into a drill session where you concentrate on technique rather than distance it will have a benefit.  Think about gliding and rotating as it will make your breathing easier and less panicked.

You are doing amazingly well and will be swimming longer distances much sooner than you think.   Patience is the key.

mellifera    pirate
31/07/2009 at 15:22

Pops - I learnt to swim without lessons. i just went to pool 3 times a week really consistently. i didn't worry about distance AT ALL  for the first few weeks I didn't ever do more than a few hundred meters and i spent all of my time doing drills. people worry too much about increasing their distance - once you can swim a couple hundred meters fairly well it's easy to increase the distance. at first i couldn't manage 25m of anything so i didn't try - i just did my drills for 5m then walked back to end of the lane and repeated! i also used the little kids pool a lot (no one in there in the morning. Sometimes your ego is the biggest hurdle!

the drills i found most useful were

-kicking drills (on back and side)- not to develop a kick but to learn how to balance in the water and learn that i do float. as a beginner i think it is easy to feel you are going to sink if you're not working really hard to stay on the surface

-one armed drills 

-fist drill

-trail fingers drill

-polo drill

you can do them as 25m drill 25m swim or 12.5mdrill /12.5m swim (or less if necessary)

i think swimming frequent short distances is the key as it takes a long time to learn a feel for the water.

Schmunkee - is nantwich in a pool? who says you can't take a little break at them end of a length? No, you are not better off just concentrating on the distance IMO, drills will teach you to swim.

Has to be said, I'm not a great swimmer! But I am a lot better than I was.

mellifera    pirate
31/07/2009 at 15:30
defo agree with just breathing in and out underwater ( knw what I mean!) without swimming.
ImRio    pirate
31/07/2009 at 15:30

Having just re read what I put I agree with Melli - ignore what I said and concentrate on the drills first!

After all it is better to get the technique right from the start than have to relearn when you have ingrained the bad stroke as I am having to do now.  Going backwards to go forwards so to speak!

31/07/2009 at 15:35

Well done Schmunkee!!!!!  7 weeks is loads of time. You only need to swim another 4 lengths from what you did today - and that will be easy after a few more weeks of practice.

I'm swimming tonight so, once again, i'm going to practice my drills whilst trying not to look like a total numpty ... With regard to breathing out through ones nose, i'm not sure if there is a right or wrong way, but the teacher who gave me the lesson advocated that as the correct way. She said all the pro swimmers exhale through their noses, but in the end, I guess it comes down to what feels comfortable for YOU. Personally speaking, if i don't exhale though my nose, i'm in serious danger of trying to automatically breath IN through it !!  That just gets nasty. Stick with what you're comfortable with and all will be well.

mellifera    pirate
31/07/2009 at 15:43
i don't breath out through my nose? well a bit maybe, but mainly through my mouth (just as i would for any exercise)
31/07/2009 at 15:51

Mellifera - I was just waffling back about what Schmunkee said re: exhaling through nose or mouth.

BTW - you said you'd learnt to swim without lessons - how long did it take you?

31/07/2009 at 15:54

Schmunkee - I did my first tri all bs because I couldn't do fc.  The next one I alternated between bs and fc.   And at St Albans tri there was a swimmer who stopped for a breather at the end of every 2 lengths once he got back to the shallow end.  Nobody cared - he just got on with his own race.  I'll be very slow at the swim too so please don't fret - and anyway, I need you to keep me company as the only other B&B sissie!

I don't know how I breathe out. I think its through my mouth but never really thought about it.

31/07/2009 at 15:55

spooky double post !

Edited: 31/07/2009 at 16:04
mellifera    pirate
31/07/2009 at 16:00

it's a work in progress!

I started in about october 2005 and could swim well enough (slow but not panicing) in 6weeks or so. then i just tried to increased distance by swimming up and down and didn't get any faster at all! that was a mistake.  i was doing 100m in about 2:30-2:45. i started doing drills again and went back to swimming no more than 1000-1500 a session and got to about 2:15 /100. i did IMDE (3.8m) in 2006 in 1:36. Not super speedy but probably passable for quite a few people.

Did a lot more drills in 2007 and did IMA in1:18 (but I think the course was a bit short. 2008 i did roth in 1:11 (and it was long). IMCH was 1:13 - swimming isn't worse, I just wasn't at the start line when it started and still find it difficult to 'dominate' my position in a crowd of swimmers. PB for 100m is now 1:32

31/07/2009 at 16:09

Wow!! That's really impressive progress from nothing to such an accomplished distance!

If I can get to anything like that speed/distance, i'll be well happy. One day, i'll do an IM ... lol  At the moment, the thought of OW swimming and all the associated carnage of a mass start, makes me quake in my shoes. Eeek!

31/07/2009 at 18:44

Wow - well done on today's effort Schmunkee!   You should be really pleased, and I'm sure you will get through Nantwich absolutely fine - you can breaststroke bits, take short breaks and you certainly won't be the worst swimmer there.

[Disclaimer: Lady Pineapple has never taken part in, or even spectated at a triathlon, at Nantwich or any other location.  Therefore, her words are based purely upon the opinions of others.  That said, I'm sure you will be okay! ]

Another vote for drills.  

This year I struggled on trying to learn FC by myself without reference to anything, simply by trying to increase the number of lengths I could thrash my way through.

There came a natural point where it was just frustrating, exhausting and thoroughly unpleasant, which is why I took a look on this thread!

Even in the very short time I've been practising a few drills - on the advice of people on here and from links/vids posted - it's made things sooooo much easier.

I used to wonder why the database for the calorie-counting website I'm signed up to (I had a stone and a half to lose at the beginning of the spring) gives higher numbers of calories burned per hour for breaststroke than for front crawl.  I couldn't understand why I always felt so much more bloody knackered after swimming FC than BS if that was the case.

I think much of the reason people get so tired swimming freestyle is down to poor technique making the whole thing very inefficient and more effort than it should be.

Practise breathing first, then move on to drills concentrating on particular aspects of the stroke.  I say this as a complete numpty with no expert knowledge whatsoever, but in personal experience it's helped.

As for breathing out through the nose - I dunno, I just sort of did that automatically!

melli - wow! Your swimming achievements - from nothing - are amazing!

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