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  1. #1
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    Swimming - boy this is hard!!

    Swimming - boy is this hard!!

    I am planning on doing my first triathlon in June of next year. I took swim lessons last August and have been reading "Total Immersion."

    I have been swimming two times per week for the last three weeks and trying to apply the TI concepts in my training.

    I can't believe how hard swimming is and don't feel like I will ever be able to complete a 500 meter sprint distance. I feel this way because I am unable to complete a 50 yard lap. I can do a 25 yard length but my heart rate gets really high and I am gassing.

    I tend to have unrealistic expectations, so can anyone help me get a grip on what is realistic?

    Note: I think I have a pretty decent fitness level in terms of both cycling and running. Cycling: road ride distances of 20 - 60 miles averaging about 18 MPH. Running: 6.2 miles average 6.5 MPH
    =======================
    SpeedyGuy032

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    I just started swimming too. I went 5 times last week and made marked improvements each day. The first day, I could barely make a length (pounding heart). The next day I could almost make a lap. The next three days I cut 15 minutes off of the time it took me to complete 15 laps, by cutting down the rest period between each lap. Then I took 3 days off and found it much more difficult to get back to where I was. It seems like the next step is to increase the distance without having to rest- which I think is all about efficiency and slowing down. Good Luck!!

  3. #3
    Senior Member shaharidan's Avatar
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    take your time you'll get there just keep at it. it sounds to me like your general fitness is better then mine, and i have no trouble swimming over a mile, slow but i can do it, and im getting faster. if i can do it you can do it, just keep up the work, but dont hurt yourself, and 500 meters will be no prob
    No matter how fast I'm going, I'm in no hurry.
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  4. #4
    TriBob
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    Keep doing the drills. Also, only do a 2 beat kick. This is enough to keep balance; but, uses a lot less energy then the 6 beat kick of swimmers doing sprints.

    Check out articles and workouts at http://trinewbies.com/2Swim.htm

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    Thanks TriBob, it seems to me I have been to that site before but never noticed all the good articles.

    Thanks alot!

    ~`~`~`~
    =======================
    SpeedyGuy032

  6. #6
    Senior Member danr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TriBob
    Keep doing the drills. Also, only do a 2 beat kick. This is enough to keep balance; but, uses a lot less energy then the 6 beat kick of swimmers doing sprints.

    Check out articles and workouts at http://trinewbies.com/2Swim.htm
    Great advice. I use a 2 beat kick myself. I save the 6 beat for the sprints.

    As far as total immersion, I think it is a waste of time for newbies. It is more important to work on the basics and fundamentals first. A newbie swimming buddy of mine told me that he read in the total immersion book not to listen to other people's advice. This guy's stroke was all jacked up.

    My advice? Get a coach. You may be able to find a former swimmer that will do it for a 6 pack. I always suggest pull buoys (the thing that goes between the legs) so the swimmer can concentrate on proper upper-body rotation and stroke. I like the kickboard too. Many newbies kick from the knees when they should be kicking from the hips.

    Above all, remember. Practice does not make perfect. If you practice and your stroke is jacked up, you will learn how to swim with a jacked up stroke. Perfect practice makes perfect.
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  7. #7
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    I have to disagree about Total Immersion being a waste of time for newbies. I was struggling with trying to get ready for my first sprint distance with a 1/2 mile swim. My friend and who was nationally ranked at one point told me about the technique. After just 2 weeks of honest effort, I noticed dramatic improvement. Granted, much was pure fundamentals, but the technique does work. Overall times were much the same, but I come out of the water relaxed and focused. I think it's worth checking out.

  8. #8
    Senior Member superchivo's Avatar
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    It will probably take about six months of swimming to start getting fast.

    The biggest problem I had going from being a 31 minute 10K guy was that I had to learn to breath. When you're running, you can breath anytime. When you starts swimming, especially when you swim fast, you're like "I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine...I'm toast."

    So, learn to breath every second or third stroke. If you start to feel the burn, breath every stroke to get the O2 flowing again. Also, you'll get a lot more air in if you exhale while your face is in the water. That way, you're not wasting time exhaling while your face is out of the water.

    I'm a big fan of repeat 50s. They let you feel what it is like to go fast and make you hurt like you will in a race. Go with something like 3 sets of 5 or 10 on the 50.

    In addition to kick and pull drills, a couple of things will make a big difference in your swimming. The first is to keep your head down. Roll your body to the side instead of lifting your head up. That will reduce your draft (and drag) in the water. The other thing is to kick against the pull. So, if you are pulling with your left arm, you want to kick with your right leg so that you create a rigid platform (your abs) to pull against.

    Good luck and keep swimming. You'll make it.

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    If you are in decent overall shape, your work on swimming will require 2 things:

    1. Perfection of the technique of swimming -- smooth and efficient stroke work. For this you may need a coach or someone who can watch and correct your particular stroke;

    2. Muscle strength -- entirely different muscles than for running or cycling. They must be flexible and strong. That's why you get tired quickly -- your muscles are gasping for more and more oxygen, b/c they are not strong enough to do the work you ask of them. But strenth will build up with repetitions. Good luck

  10. #10
    truthisntalwayswanttohear jacob's Avatar
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    As a "veteran" of swimming, I can tell you it can get kind of tough. Maybe you should try joining a swim team for some time, for personal gain from a coach, if you can afford it and are so inclined.
    I was on swim teams for a long time, and you get a lot of input and stuff just from interacting from others in the sport.

    Jacob
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  11. #11
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    When I was 19, I took advantage of the free pool at college to teach myself to swim. From being a 25m man, it took me about 3-4 weeks to get up to 20 lengths, and about 3 months before I could do a decent 40 length workout. Thats not a distance to brag about, but it keeps me in shape.
    What I figured out, as an adult learner, was that you have to be able to swim, in order to get fit using swimming. You can't get fit just by struggling harder.
    Start swimming slowly. If you slow down your stroke, you can trace and analyse your movements and breathing.
    One thing I found really useless was concentrating on my stroke, when I had difficulty breathing. You need to be pretty comfortable and relaxed under the water, before you can really work on arm and leg technique.

  12. #12
    Junior Member jbjordin's Avatar
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    IMO Your HR going up has nothing to do with your overall fitness level and everything to do with how comfortable you are in the water. Comfort generally starts and ends with breathing. If you can't breath I guarantee you won't ever be comfortable in the water much less fast. Once you are breathing without even thinking about it, then it's time to work on speed, form, kicks, etc.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Rdbiker13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smallwood
    I just started swimming too. I went 5 times last week and made marked improvements each day. The first day, I could barely make a length (pounding heart). The next day I could almost make a lap. The next three days I cut 15 minutes off of the time it took me to complete 15 laps, by cutting down the rest period between each lap. Then I took 3 days off and found it much more difficult to get back to where I was. It seems like the next step is to increase the distance without having to rest- which I think is all about efficiency and slowing down. Good Luck!!
    Hey Smallwood,
    I just stared swimming too.That breathing thing is hard!!!. I was all out of breath too.My arms and legs weren't tired just my lungs I'm bound and detremined to beat it.I went the first time on Monday for about 45min then thursday 1hour 20min.I to had a hard time getting the breathing again but I kept plugging along in the slow lane with the old lady's at the YMCA.I was thinking the same thing about increasing distance without having to rest.A lap at a time slowly to get the feel of it.

  14. #14
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    "I feel this way because I am unable to complete a 50 yard lap. I can do a 25 yard length but my heart rate gets really high and I am gassing."

    It sounds to me like part of your problem is that you're not mentally relaxed enough. I think a big part of being able to swim a distance (for people who are fit enough to run decently, anyway) is making sure you're not too tense. It's scary not having enough oxygen, and it can make your mind race and your face and neck tense. It might help you to try to use a very low level of effort but to try to use that little effort as efficiently as possible... and to try to make sure you're not tensing muscles in your face/neck/etc. that aren't helping you swim faster. Of course, that's only part of getting to be a better swimmer, but i think it's an important part.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member bitemail's Avatar
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    Swimming is one of the hardest sports there are. I swam competitevly for couple years, the hardest part is to get you rotation once you get that down breathing and everything is easy. Swimming is all about effiency, lot of people bob up and down and waste energy. You have to do 1 arm drills and rotation drills. There is shark fin drill I like too, to get your technique down I recommend long swims like 4000m and more that way when you are tired you learn to become efficient. A 500m sprint can be very difficult key is to relax in the water and get your balance point....learn to float. I myself was a sinker so i had to use a light fliutter kick to keep me up, a strong and good tecnhique made me a very good freestyle sprinter but not a great distance swimmer.

  16. #16
    Senior Member bitemail's Avatar
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    Some tips ....
    Pull the arm over elbows high and arm floppy, hand enter water with thumb and index finger...learn to get long and glide as you put your arm back in the water then "catch" a piece of water with slight angle of hand and closed fingers. (you can try drill with fists closed). Try to pull your self forward almost like climbing a ladder keeping your hand close to your body, complete the stroke fully ending in full extension of arm and begin again. Biggest mistake of newbies is the bobbing stroke where you push down instead of pulling yourself forward, you use your muscle and burn out fast. Get your balancing point (point where head is, chin slightly down and you float perfectly). Remember if you dont balance in the water you are working extra hard. Try not to splash (another sign of bobbing) a good swimmer will make very little wake , only little whirlpools left from a good "water catch". ALso remember that swimming each stroke is done side to side (meaning that your body is never flat in the water, that way breathing is easy) Finally when you breath dont change your balancing point...just a quick head rotation suck in air and slowly let it out..breathe every other.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Cyclingmaniac's Avatar
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    Hey Speedy!

    I just started swimming about three weeks ago. Never been in a coached swimming environment ever! After first 200 yds, thought I was going to die . . . or at least drink half of the pool! The coach who is a triathlete and a swimmer, taught me a couple of techniques in the first session. Swam a total of 1700 yds in first session. Went to a swim clinic conducted by the coach. Showed us the technique used by Stanford swimmers. The video is by narrated and demonstrated showing the "belly to the wall" technique, arms positioned by stomach as you roll to side, and "front quadrant" swimming. To understand the concepts, the video is helpful. Not sure where you can get it, but do a search. I'll look also to see if I can find it!

    I am now swimming 2500 yds to 3500 yds in an hour. I'm not tearing up the water, but considering I could barely make 200 yds three weeks ago, I'm a believer in perfecting this technique.

    Some one posted above something like "the key is in the form". It is soooooo true! Hope this helps!

    Happy splashing!

    The Cyclingmaniac!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Cyclingmaniac's Avatar
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    Found the video info, speedyguy:

    As a side note, I think that bitemail (in his previous posts) is describing the same technique as in the video. I found the video at the following website:

    http://www.sportsnationvideo.com/spo...on/wiswfr.html

    The video features Richard Quick, Stanford Swim Coach and just became available
    (Not available until March, 2004.) I hope this doesn't violate any of the administrator rules with respect to the website. I have no vested interest in the video other than it helped me undestand the technique very clearly. I'm posting the excerpt from the Sports Nation Video website that describes the video:

    Again the vide features Richard Quick, University of Stanford, 12 NCAA Team Championships, 5X NCAA Coach of the Year and Milt Nelms. In Championship Winning Freestyle, Quick sets the foundation for his Posture, Line and Balance theme with an on deck discussion/demonstration of the freestyle followed by a full stroke overview in the pool. Quick calls on Coach Nelms to validate the Posture, Line and Balance concepts incorporating Bill Boomer’s “inside out” philosophies in an easy-to-understand presentation enhanced by masterful illustrations. With the concept of Posture, Line and Balance clearly defined, explained and illustrated on-deck and in the classroom, Quick returns to the pool where he shares the drill progressions that build the stroke from the core to a full rhythmical stroke. Quick is one of the finest motivators in the world and as the drills are demonstrated, he adds tremendously valuable coaching concepts. The demonstrations are extremely insightful with the inclusion of excellent above and underwater footage. Championship Winning Freestyle is the most comprehensive freestyle instruction ever available anywhere! 54 minutes. 2003. MV-2017B Cost: $39.95

    Again enjoy your splashing!

    The Cyclingmaniac

  19. #19
    Senior Member Charlie21's Avatar
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    I'm in the same boat, I can run easly 5k, 10k + and 30, 40, 50 + miles on the bike, but in the water, I can barely swin 25 meters, I have a serious problem breathing. I will continue my drowning, I mean swimming lesson maybe next week.

    Im interested in that video, it worth the $$? Do you know if is available?



    Charlie

  20. #20
    Senior Member Rdbiker13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie21
    I'm in the same boat, I can run easly 5k, 10k + and 30, 40, 50 + miles on the bike, but in the water, I can barely swin 25 meters, I have a serious problem breathing. I will continue my drowning, I mean swimming lesson maybe next week.

    Im interested in that video, it worth the $$? Do you know if is available?



    Charlie

    Hey Charlie too bad you don't live in my neck of the woods.We could drown together.I never thought it would be so hard to swim laps,but I think it will improve your cardiovascular fitness greatly! Someday I'll be able to swim laps like the old lady's in the lanes next to me

  21. #21
    Senior Member Cyclingmaniac's Avatar
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    I attended a triathlon swim clinic where the coach showed the video! I think the $$ is worth it if you don't have a strong coach support. The coach I work with was an NCAA Swim Champion and has changed his swimming technique to that which is demonstrated in the video. Instead of swimming endless laps and perfecting bad technique, the coach stresses the correct technique . . . take it slow and get the technique down, then increase the speed utilizing the techniques learned. The video talks about front quadrant swimming which helps raise the hips. It is usually the hips and legs that are dragging behind because of alignment of the body. Front quadrant swimming assists in balancing the body. It makes sense when you watch the video and then apply it! I was able to get my stroke from 28 strokes per 25 yards down to 19 strokes per 25 yards. I too thought that after my first 200 yards of swimming that this was the (fill in the blank) sport in the world and what the (fill in the blank) was I thinking? I'm now swimming 2500 to 3000 yards per workout at a nice slow easy pace. Mind you I'm not going to break any swimming records, but in a triathlon, I will finish the swim section with a heck of a lot more energy than without the swim technique that I learned. I would have been spent by the time I finished the swimming, blown up on the bike ride trying to make up time and walked the running section of the tri! Well, that's my 2 cents anyway!

  22. #22
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    Training for a Triathlon can be tough.. Remeber as newbies do not try to start at the front. Better swimmers will not swim around you, they will swim over you.. Yes that's right you are now under water.. The start of triathlon swims can be similar to a rugby scrum... Be conservative of where you start and learn from your first triathlon and go from there...

  23. #23
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    Lots of good advice here, and let me throw one more in.
    Do not get all wrapped around what your work out should be for a particular day. As a new comer, you may be able to swim one lap with good technique, but as soon as you get fatigued your stroke will fall apart.
    I suggest, only swim as long as you can until your stroke collapses into thrashing. Then stop and wait for your heart rate to recover, and then go on. You will build very bad habits if you push yourself beyond solid technique.
    We all get a bit impatient, so recognize that, listen to your body and visualize perfect technique. When its gone, its gone. Dry off, and go back tomorrow.
    Cheers

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