Thanks for the last two posts, that is what I am looking for. I haven't jumped back in a pool since the race in May and so I will have a lot of catching up to do. But, with the help and advice I have discovered here I think the swim might start to feel more comfortable.
There is a small pond that I have access to and a lake as well that I might try to swim in once the water begins to warm up and as the May '09 race gets closer. I do plan to compete in at least one Sprint before my Olympic in May (Memphis in May Triathlon) and then hopefully a few more afterwards.
Sure wish I had gotten into this about fifteen to twenty years ago.
When you swim freestyle, your body should be in a 'neutral' position in the water - don't swim 'uphill' or 'downhill'. When you swim 'uphill', your legs sink and you are presenting a larger incident area relative to the oncoming water. Something similar happens when you swim 'downhill'. Your head and shoulders are down and serve as a plow.
The plane of water should break right where your forehead and scalp meet. Your focus underwater should be at a -45* angle to the surface of the water. Kick. Kick. Kick. Three times for each arm stroke. Kicking your legs with a regular, smooth motion that starts with your hips will keep your legs up - try this with a kickboard with your arms out. If you don't kick, your legs sink, but as soon as you get a kicking rhythm down, your legs will come up to the surface.
When I teach beginners, the problems I see most are swimmers taking too many breaths too quickly or swimmers taking huge breaths and holding until their next breath. Hyperventilating will make you lightheaded and drain your energy. You should breathe in a similar fashion to any other sport that requires a great deal of oxygen - you need to exhale.
Think about when you run/bike - you don't completely hold your breath and explosively exhale just before you inhale - this isn't powerlifting. Get accustomed to blowing bubbles (not a lot, only a small leak) underwater as you swim - this will help with your brain's desire to take another breath and reduce fatigue in your upper body.
The recovery stroke should be quick but controlled. Keep your elbow high and your hand close to your torso.
Remember to glide after each and every stroke. Think about ice skating or rollerblading - there's no need to constantly push, since you can glide on your planted foot after each push. Swimming is the same way - at the end of each stroke, one arm should be stretched out in front and one down by your side. At this point, you should be on your side 'laying' on the outstretched arm.
Try standing in front of a wall with both arms out in front. Keep your hands 6-12" away from the wall. Now drop your right arm and twist your HIPS (not your shoulders!) to the right and you should be able to touch the wall. Do the same with the other arm. That extra 6-12" of stroke there will help you become more efficient in your stroke.
Remember that all of your motions should originate from the HIPS - everything else will follow. If you stand in shoulder-deep water with your arms relaxed, rotate your hips left and right and your shoulders and arms will move without any effort in a rocking motion. Use this to your advantage when swimming freestyle.
Keep it fluid - after all, you are in the water.
A lot of this is "Eureka"-type stuff that you'll only get by actually going to the pool and concentrating on form rather than endurance or speed. The best thing I can tell someone who is interested in swimming is to take a class on proper technique - there is far too much to learn than what can be communicated through a message board.
Best of luck, and keep up the effort.
My background: Competitive swimmer for 8+ years - Child and adult instructor for 2 years
It's my opinion that only strong swimmers should try open-water swimming - it's not a good place to practice for a beginner. Open-water swimming can be very dangerous to those who are not extremely comfortable in the water - there's nothing to hold on to, and people can easily miss you if you require help.
man she has a great stroke. I struggle with the swimming too but I am no quitter and will figure it out.
That was the most impressive post on swimming or anything I have seen to date, thank you so much for taking the time to so eloquently convey what it takes to be a good swimmer. I couldn't agree more about the open water swimming thing, I am an extremely good and experienced body surfer and I wouldn't consider swimming beyond the break without some serious backup to watch over me. I also struggle with swimming and will have your advice in my head when I hit the pool tomorrow well actually today.
Rick the insomniac :thumb:
Man I never knew how freaking complicated swimming could be. I to am new to swimming properly and it is is a B**** but I know that if keep showing up I will get better. At the moment when I am swimming I will have maybe two or three really good strokes in which I get it right. When that happens it almost makes half drowning and drinking water with other peoples urine in it worth it. :cheers:
Just keep swimming
Really concentrate on form technique and use a bouye to keep your hips up and train your body to rotate in the water. I used to be the worst swimmer and I am just now starting to feel good about my swimming. More than anything you just gotta do it, swim no matter how you feel about your progress and then if you concentrate on your technique you will have little breakthroughs. For a while I would swim 800 meters and maybe have a total of 1 or 2 laps in which I felt my stroke and form were good the rest of the time I swallowed a lot of water and struggled. Now a days I still swallow a little water but at least half my strokes are good and my breathing is getting closer and closer to normal. Breathing is very important by the way eventually your breathing should feel normal like when you run or bike. Finally iI suggest using this method to increase your endurance slowly and consistently over time (this is based on one length or touch across a 25meter pool). Swim 1rest,2rest,3rest,4rest 20 seconds...,3,2,1 touches that comes out to 400 meters, do it twice if you can or change the middle number to 3 on the second series and your just under a half mile. Over time increase the middle number and eventually you will be swimming distances that you thought you never could or would do before. I actually look forward to swimming, I can't believe that I am saying that I enjoy it but it's true. I enjoy it because it stresses my body the least out of all the things those of us who hope to become good triathletes have to do and avoiding injury is half the battle. I seriously doubt I will ever injure myself in the pool. Good luck to all who read this and let me know if this helped you or anyone else who reads it.
I swam competitively in high school, nearly thirty years ago, so I know how to properly swim. Trouble is, I don't swim often enough to have any endurance. I went to the pool today to practice for my twice a year navy reserve physical readiness test. Normally I do the run, but, I am currently mending a torn calf muscle so I'd rather not try the run.
Man, did I stink. First 2 lengths in the 25M pool feel great. Stroke is as smooth as it was in highschool, but, then my arms turn to lead quickly and my form becomes miserable. I think part of the problem is that since I feel so good those first 2 lengths, I swim at a fairly quick comfortable pace. Maybe if I hold back on those first few laps I might not deteriorate so quickly.
What can I do (other than find more frequent pool time) to fix this. I suspect the answer is, not much. Wish I had access to a pool nearby in the cold weather. In the summer I swim a bit in my above ground pool, but, that is pretty much 4 or 5 strokes and turn. Not really a good workout.
trekker, I'm just getting into swimming as I've signed up for my first tri too. I have a few thoughts, but hopefully someone more experienced can answer.
Couple questions to think about: do you have a fairly strong core? do you drag your hips in the water? Are you lifting your head too high to breathe? those are the mistakes that tire me out.
If you can't get in the pool more often, really work that core!!
Do you have swim fins? I picked up a pair, its a good way to really concentrate on stroke and form without tiring too quicky when you are first getting started.
Start with sets. Do those first two laps, 20 second rest, do it again. Each time you get in the pool increase the number of laps in your set.
Without videotaping myself, it's hard to say exactly what is going on other than i am just getting old and out of shape.
I think breathing is part of it. I remember working on that back in high school. I seem to recall that if you were doing it properly, you would be doing all of your exhaling while your face is in the water. That way, when you turn for a breath, it was quick as it only involved breathing in.
I do have a set of fins. Maybe I'll give them a shot.
BTW, is that hottie in the avatar you? ;)
yup, its me!
if you can't get in the pool, try breathing through a straw (I do it in my car on the way to work & back)... gets you used to oxygen deprivation. Exhale slowly through the straw, and take a quick inhale. No cheating! As it gets easier, tape the straw to limit the hole, or if you're really awesome get one of those little stir sticks.
You're right - not much to do but get in the pool more. If you swim a couple times a week - it will come back fast.
Originally Posted by trekker pete
Am training for my 2nd triathlon, on May 25 (Cap of Texas) this time with a group, and I have really benefitted from coaching. I am finding that drills are making a huge difference in my technique, which in turn is making a huge difference in my endurance. If you swim with better technique, you will be able to swim longer.
This morning I did a 2K meter practice. When I first started - last June -- I could barely swim a length without being exhausted.
I keep my chin down, rotating my body from side to side when swimming, so my bellybutton faces the wall. When breathing I simply rotate my head with my body. I make sure to keep my legs straight - bent legs were making me exhausted, and using way too much energy.
Some of my favorite drills for technique: Catchup (with our without a swim buoy); one arm alternate lead (on side, facing wall, 1 arm extended, alternate arms with each length); Speed drills: sprint down, slow back.
Also, make sure you do a very slow warmup; start with 50m, work up to more. Then execute all of your drills slowly. Then if you do speed drills after that, you will be using good technique, as you will with the endurance part of your practice. And start the endurance practice at a distance you can handle, while gradually ramping it up. Make sure you do a nice slow, cooldown set of 50-200m, depending on your ability.
That is good advice for swiming in general but not so good for people doing tri's. Almost all your movement and speed come from the arms. Legs and kick move you only a little. Competitive swimmers need every bit of speed they can get so working on the kick might make provide that edge. But for tri's, save your legs for the bike and run. Use the kick just to maintain a level body.
Originally Posted by artifice
How Long to Glide?
I have always swam by beginning one stroke as soon as I have completed the previous stroke, as I learned when I was 12 years old. Although I'm fairly tall - 6' 1" - I use 26-27 strokes to do 25 yards. People have mentioned the concept of gliding, which I'm not familiar with. Is there any rule of thumb for how long to glide? Should it be a 1 count, a 2 count, or some other measurement? Is there any rule of thumb for the number of strokes to complete 25 yards?
Do not glide. Gliding is basically stopping and starting again (or slowing and speeding up). Would you do that on a bike in a race? It is far worse swimming. Now some people windmill, long powerfull strokes that are fully finished are more efficient, that could be what someone is calling gliding.
Originally Posted by stephen1254
Thinking about it one of the big problems 'non-swimmers' have is they stop (even if for only 1/10 of a second) when they breath.
Thinking of the kick. It can be worthwhile when learning to kick medium-hard. If nothing else it minimizes the problems with pauses when breathing. But distance swimmers do not kick much except for the last 100 meters of so. In fact many have a kick wher their legs actually cross. They kick enough to hkeep the legs and hips from dragging and also to keep the body in line, not for speed. I'd say tri swimmers have one more reason not to kick too much, their lags will be working soon. On the other side they should kick enough to keep the legs warmed up.
I have not swam competitively in 30 years, but had close to 20 years experience before that. It is very very difficult to communicate technique over a typewriter. Anyone who has the chance to work with a real coach or even a competitive swimmer (current or past) grab it.
What type of triathlon would be considered a "swimmer's race"?
I'm doing my first tri this summer, 1.5k swim, 30 mi bike, 10k run. A big jump to start with- my goal is really just to finish, but I'd be proud to place in the top 50% of my age group.
For the past 2 months I've been in the pool 2-3 days a week. (Some weeks more) I can tell its going to be my weakest point... I have an efficient stroke, but I'm just s-l-o-w, my lungs have a hard time keeping up. 8 weeks from now to the tri.
I'm a strong cyclist/runner.
Any thoughts? Advice?
from what I understand no triathlon is a swimmers race unless it is a draft legal race, in which case if you're not out of the water and on the bike with the lead pack you're not winning. I've heard a lot of stories about guys breaking the swim record on a course and not finishing because they ran out of gas or just finishing really poorly.
Whoa. Are we talking training or racing?
Originally Posted by Keith99
If you're just beginning or training to increase endurance, you should be gliding. Swimming is a muscle memory skill. Gliding will help increase the number of repetitions one is able to do in a session and also help slow the swim down to allow more focus on technique (this is a training thread, after all). By no means should your body be still while you breathe. The remainder of your breath should be expelled at the end of your pull and the breath should be taken while you are in the 'recovery' part of your stroke.
If you're racing or training to increase your sprint speed, then by all means, wheel away (but be mindful of your technique!).
And gliding is not like stopping and starting (as long as your glides aren't overly long). Think of it more like ice skating or roller blading. Like Keith said, you're slowing down and speeding up a bit, but you're still going, and with the slower pace, you can think about your technique. Speed follows technique - and your joints will thank you later.
any recommendations for transitioning from pool/lap swimming to open water? i.e. how often or when should i incorporate open water swim into my training? if i have a late-july triathlon planned, would it be ok to wait until sometime in july to attempt open water and focus my training right now on getting endurance in the pool? (i can barely do 100m freestyle without stopping.)
Wow this thread has been very informative. I am doing my first triathlon this summer, a spring (1/2 mile swim, 10-15 mile bike, 3 mile run) I am not worried at all about bike or run, but I know swimming will be hard for me. I am definitely going to practice everything that y'all said, but I have a question. If you can't do the 1/2 mile without stopping, can you pull off to the side and rest for a few minutes in the middle of the swim? Or is that not allowed? I would feel much safer if I knew I could stop halfway through.
If it is a pool swim you can rest but if it is open water I don't think you'll be swimming to the shore for a breather. Your best option is to just flip over and backstroke. But depending on how much time you have until race day you should be able to get in some good practice sessions. 1/2 mile isn't that long but if you don't conserve your energy in the swim it will hurt you later on.
And just to clarify...I think you mean a sprint not a spring.
IM training for my first sprint-tri in July, Im starting to get nervous about the swim portion. I only learned to swim a couple of months ago and no matter how hard I try, Im only good for about 1 pool length before I have to stop.
Obviously this could be a problem during the actual triathalon :).
Im hoping these tip will help me out, thanks to everyone for the advice
Originally Posted by cz2509
1. keep swimming. The more you swim the easier it gets. how often are you swimming? daily, weekly?
2. In sprint tris, there are a lot of folks who need to rest frequently. Is this an indoor or outdoor swim? Several people in the two indoor swims I did this year (including myself) stopped to rest a couple/few times.
I am new as well and was swimming a couple hundred max. The other day I went to a Adult or Masters swim that was just 4 dollars. Yea sure there were some bad A$$$ swimmers but everyone was very cool. The coach took some time to show me some balance drills and just from a half hour of practicing these drills I felt more efficient when I swam laps. Look it up online. Im sure there is a similar thing in your area. If not, be patient, go often, go more often, and it will come. Also, there is a bunch of youtube vids on freestyle, tri swimming, Total immersion swimming. Study all those and try to incorperate it in your swimming. Good luck
Yes Greg, there is a cure. 1st off. The sinking legs is a balance issue. There are simple drills to cure that. Do them and do them 4 to5 times a week. Once the balance is there things will chance. I am just getting it now. Was in the same boat as you and can swim a half mile or so at this time. Ok. I found a masters swim program. Its 4 dollars a session and there is a coach and a bunch of very friendly people. Now, check out the links to these Youtube videos. They will get you started. You may as well not even go swim if your pounding the water and not swimming the right way. It's a waste of time. Go every day. Practice these balance drills first. Swim slow and incorporate the balance into your slow swim. Over a few months it will change.