Cr@p Swimmers R Us

Swimming Support Thread

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12/07/2013 at 15:35

OK this is a really stupid Q - been having lessons and been told my arm stroke is lovely but not using my legs enough that i can work on,  but my issue is breathing, not breathing out (although i may not be breathing out hard enough) but inhaling seem to be a problem.

So any tips on what helped you to breath with front crawl.

Finding OW easier than the pool.

Blisters    pirate
12/07/2013 at 18:34

Firstly. I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. I've just been here for a while. 10 years ago when I failed to do anything about it, and 15 months ago when I resurrected the thread and jumped in the deep end.

I was the same as all beginners here. Satisfied that I could breast stroke my way out of trouble. However, breast is inefficient because after every power stroke you put the brakes on BIG TIME. There is far less power in a crawl stroke, but the aim is to maintain a streamlined profile , therefore reducing drag, and utilising a continuous forward motion, ie free distance for the energy input. This is why it seems completely unfair at our end of the game: breast strokers in the pool continually whup past us. Why? Because they are going to power along for 100 or 200m. Plenty of recovery and no endurance induced lactic build up. We are all here because we want to do longer distances and have fuel left in the tank. Rule 1. DRAG is the biggest enemy, as opposed to POWER being the big aim.

OW easier than pool? Yup, same here. Why? because you have a chance to settle down into a rhythm. If you can use a wettie, then there's additional flotation. Floaty legs = slimmer frontal profile = less drag. See above.

Kicking. The aim of the kick is NOT extra power. See rule 1. The "kick" is more of akin to the action of a fish's tail. The muscle in the middle is used (that's where the meat is). Pointy feet (like a fin) minimise drag. The "kick" is from the thighs, and its primary aim is to elevate the body into streamline. The faster you go, the better this gets. (Pheew)

The BIGGEST issue for beginners is breathing, both OUT as well as in. Practice several times a week, but don't get tired out or your form will droop. This can be frustrating, but is worthwhile. This is the time that a teacher can really make a HUGE difference.

Check out

Finally: As a motivator, today I swam 3900m open water with no wetsuit. Not fast, but significant.

12/07/2013 at 20:07

Many thanks for the comprehensive response - it makes a lot of sense. my issue (apart from being crap at front crawl) is that as I have always held my own in the fast lane with breast stroke over reasonable distances I have been loathe to change - over time this has made me even more stubborn, it is almost a case of why should I change if I can swim as fast as the guys doing the faster stroke - and yes I realise how ridiculous that sounds! 

Strangely the breathing isn't my biggest issue - I think that is ok (but far from perfect) -  however what you have said about legs is very astute - it is almost like you have been watching my feeble attempts where I try to power my way through the water with my legs leaving  them feeling horrendous after a short period of time. 

Blisters    pirate
12/07/2013 at 22:21

Been there, done that.

I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing with my legs at the moment. I don't mean right now obviously. I am told that I need to concentrate on occasionally tapping my big toes together, and occasionally breaking the water surface with my heel. These tricks are just to get the feel of where they should be. Pointy toes are obviously vital, because right angled feet are really, really good brakes.

Blisters    pirate
12/07/2013 at 22:26

You will need a bath toy called a pull buoy. Not a Pool Boy. That's something else. You place it between your thighs, it floats your legs, and you concentrate on the arms. You should not kick at all. This helps you get higher in the water so the arms and breathing can be sorted, that enables more forward motion, and you realise how useless the legs really are.

Beyond that I'm verging into offering training and coaching tips, and I'm too crap for that.

12/07/2013 at 23:18

Thanks again - that have been a great help so you're obviously not that crap! 

15/07/2013 at 09:48

Got to the pool this morning, really wasn't feeling it after an un clipping moment on the bike yesterday leaving stiffness to knee and shoulder. First ten Sets of 50m took forever, then  10 sets of 100m. Got to last minutes and thought I would try for 16 lengths following my then length pb last week, 20 lengths later, still feeling fine ( very slow ) and annoyed that I had to finish as wanted that half mile. 

Finally feels that continuous swimming is coming. 

15/07/2013 at 11:18

Blisters - thanks for the info. Having my first individual lesson tomorrow morning so looking forward to that. I hope my instructor has a lot of patience!

It may sound a silly question - but if my lesson is at 8am can I have breakfast as normal at 7?

15/07/2013 at 15:54

I eat an hour before mm

15/07/2013 at 17:04

Gazhilla - cheers! I didn't fancy going on an empty stomach

15/07/2013 at 20:33
Just looking in ...
15/07/2013 at 20:56
Looking for some pointers to improve my swimming ...

Enjoy OW swimming all year round without wetsuit
Never been able to master breathing for frontcrawl.
Can swim (head up) breaststroke but slowly and I suspect inefficiently.
Can swim backstroke at better pace (but knackered after 1 length).
Happy swimming and being underwater (eg kayak capsize drills) but never got breathing timing sorted for swimming.
15/07/2013 at 20:57
PS "see" a few "familiar faces" on here
15/07/2013 at 20:58

5 weeks ago I couldn't do 25m crawl. Today I managed 400m continuous! 

I'm sloooow though. 400m in 11 mins!

16/07/2013 at 10:30

had my first lesson today - I managed 25m crawl and I was shattered. 80 lengths in a HIM seems an impossible task at the mo. Apparently my technique is decent - it's my breathing. I can't seem to breathe out properly, I'm blowing out for my life and then gasping which is so tiring.   

16/07/2013 at 12:45

I'm no Adrian Moorhouse, a few hundred m is my limit and a few weeks ago I was the same as you. An excercise I did was face  down with a float just kicking and see how long I can go whilst breathing out. Taught me to breath out slowly. I also did one arm on the float one arm stroke, to get the hang of turning to breath, I did the same alternating sides to swim and breath. Really slow kicking also helped me, think of walk, run and sprint paces on land, try to get your legs at the walk pace. 


As I say, I'm no expert, but this is what I've been doing n my lessons the last few weeks and months

16/07/2013 at 13:58

Thanks Graeme - I can live in hope then! How often do you breathe? I've tried every 2 strokes but I can't seem to get the air out quick enough.

16/07/2013 at 14:45

the bubble bubble breath drill in swimsmooth helped me, really blowing it out for the strokes only having to breathe in on the head turn. I was where you were MM 4 weeks ago, now 500m and 1800-2000m a session, trust  us it will come  

16/07/2013 at 15:43

Gaz - I'll let you know in 4 week's lesson on Thursday and I'll practise on my own at the weekend. I've got to crack it sooner or later

Blisters    pirate
17/07/2013 at 12:48


It will all come good, and in 4 weeks time you will be shocked at the performance improvements.

11minutes for 400m? Try to athlon is a flipping natural I tell you. That's not at all shabby. I've barely got below 10 minutes.

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