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  1. #1
    Comfortably numb.
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    Advice for a new swimmer.... Swim Training questiolns here.

    Hi all...I am new to the triathlon world but am enjoying myself so far....except for the swimming part the running and biking are enjoyable and i am able to progress. The swimming is just a losing battle it seems. I can only complete a 50m swim and i am dead in the water. I can swim i have been swimming for years, just not swimming for a purpose. Now as i try to swim my legs sink and my arms just arent "flowing". It seems as though im just tiring myself out and going nowhere. I look at the other people in the water and they seem to glide through with ease. I dont even want speed just not to labor so hard. My question is this....what have you found to be the best way to learn to swim. i cant afford a coach right now, but was there and book, dvd, pointers in general that helped you learn to swim the proper way.

    Thank you all,
    Greg

  2. #2
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    i don't know what you're background in swimming is, so if you already know any of this then I mean no disrespect. It really helps if you keep your head down in the water, if you pull your head up then your butt sinks and you're swimming vertically and that really tires you out quickly. That's one thing that I see people doing wrong all the time. Also there are a couple videos on youtube on how to swim that are really good and show great technique, I highly recommend them. Here is one on freestyle/backstroke/kicking, this guy is us marine and has really good technique and a great teaching style, check out all of them if you have a chance.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=IYuSMumlUk4&feature=related

  3. #3
    Lanky G-Raf
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    That video was really cool. Thanks for posting it.
    Triton Cycling, UC San Diego (grad student)

    UC Irvine class of 2008
    Formerly of Anteater Cycling. Zot Zot Zot.

  4. #4
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    Are you the same ryon graf that is the skimboard photographer?

  5. #5
    Lanky G-Raf
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    Yessir. Just havnt been out skimming and shooting much as of late. I took up cycling and triathlon because its more accessable and consistent stress relief than waiting for good waves. Have we met before?
    Triton Cycling, UC San Diego (grad student)

    UC Irvine class of 2008
    Formerly of Anteater Cycling. Zot Zot Zot.

  6. #6
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    no, I've just seen a lot of your photos on skimonline.com and recognized the name. I actually haven't skimmed in about a year, the surf in san luis obispo is better then the skim, but now I'm getting more into triathlons. Damn its a small world

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    I would recommend Total Immersion, book and dvd. I was about like you last year. By doing the drills and just staying in the pool trying to follow his recommendations I'm down to 14:30 for the 1/2 mile open water and not fatigued at all. I don't know whether I can get much faster using his techniques but I'm satisfied.

  8. #8
    Lanky G-Raf
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    Quote Originally Posted by hanshun View Post
    no, I've just seen a lot of your photos on skimonline.com and recognized the name. I actually haven't skimmed in about a year, the surf in san luis obispo is better then the skim, but now I'm getting more into triathlons. Damn its a small world
    Yeah for real. Small world. Let me know if you're ever in the socal area. I might actually be visiting SLO sometime later this month to ride some of the routes with a buddy of mine.
    Triton Cycling, UC San Diego (grad student)

    UC Irvine class of 2008
    Formerly of Anteater Cycling. Zot Zot Zot.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mgbguy View Post
    I would recommend Total Immersion, book and dvd. I was about like you last year. By doing the drills and just staying in the pool trying to follow his recommendations I'm down to 14:30 for the 1/2 mile open water and not fatigued at all. I don't know whether I can get much faster using his techniques but I'm satisfied.
    +1 for Total Immersion

  10. #10
    Comfortably numb.
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    thank you all for your responses and advice. hopefully this will help others as well....i think im gonna give total immersion a whirl....not much else is workin

  11. #11
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    RE: advice for new swimmer

    I know you said you couldn't afford a coach - I assume you meant a private coach. You may want to check out a local masters swim team. You'll find a mix of swimmers and triathletes of various abilities.

    Check out this site: http://www.usms.org/placswim/

  12. #12
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    Another vote for Total Immersion!

    Just remember that you need to practice the drills. Just reading/watching won't change a thing.

    I also highly recommend training with a "buddy" since it is much easier when you are two.

    My GF Kajsa could not finish 50 y without being totally out of breath.
    The video below is after a few months practice + 1 weekend workshop.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=JfoPmqeIzXw

    Good luck!

  13. #13
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    Which Total Immersion book are you guys recommending? It looks like he has a few of them. There's a Tri specific one, then there's one that goes through the four major strokes.

    http://www.totalimmersion.net/products-books.html

    Thanks!

  14. #14
    Aspiring triathlete moonmaid's Avatar
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    Another option if you live in a metropolitan area is to check out city or town swim classes, and try a group class for adults. I live near Austin and am about to take a Swim Fitness class offered by the city's Rec dept. I am similarly challenged by tiring after 50m of freestyle. I didn't feel I could keep up with the Master's class they offered, and thought I might get more individualized attention to my issues in a smaller class (they limit it to eight).

    After getting done with the class, I am also probably going to go the TI or similar program DVD/book route.

    One thing to remember is, you don't start out with 500m endurance, and it won't happen overnight. When I first started running a few years ago, I could barely run for 5 minutes without my lungs burning and having to stop and walk. After 3 months of training I completed a 5K race in very challenging conditions (close to 90 degrees on a Shea stadium's asphalt parking lot in NYC). I wasn't fast, but I ran the whole way. A few months more, and I had a 5K down to 28 minutes, and could run 4 miles easily in practice. Now I'm in my late 40s and will never be fast, but my endurance increased so much with training. I remind myself of this when training. I too had to re-learn freestyle, and discovered I was swimming the wrong way for years. I have already gone from only being able to swim 25m correctly to 50m in little over a week.

    Another thing to remember as a newbie is that the name of the game is to finish. If you have to do some breaststroke or backstroke during the race to regain your energy, that's ok.

    My goal at present is to increase my distance without stopping. If I can add 25m a week, or even if it's every 2 weeks, I will still be progressing. And like running, I expect at some point for the increase to be greater each week, as I continue my cross training and strength training.

    I also do some breathing and kicking drills when the pool is empty. Bi-lateral breathing has been tough for me to get, since I was so used to only breathing on one side. I also have a somewhat small lung capacity, tend to get winded easily and have had pneumonia before. It's just a weakness that training will help, since training correctly increases endurance.

    Be patient, keep working at it, don't freak out and hang in there!
    It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, "Always do what you are afraid to do."
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  15. #15
    Comfortably numb.
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    Thanx moonmaid that is good advice and some good training ideas. I do need to just be patient, lol, but thats the hardest part.

  16. #16
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    I went ahead ans stuck this one for future swim training questions.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  17. #17
    ( d/dx (66x) )^(1/2) jfk32's Avatar
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    I would like to echo some points people are making about this being a LONG process for beginners. I am coming into swimming with no experience except for the survival type swim classes you get when you are little kid. I felt before this that I could swim pretty well and hold my own as far as not drowning goes.

    Man, what a shock it was to find out that I could only swim 25 yards before I had to pull up and breathe like I just ran a 400m sprint on the track (I'm a runner first).

    It's been almost 3 months now, and I can now swim about 150 yards without stopping, and can swim about 1000 yards in a 40 minute session. Now that I've gotten some base fitness, I'm moving to doing intervals. A typical training session for me lately is like this:

    200yd warmup (rest whenever you need to during this, go slow and easy)
    4x50yd drills (catch-up, hesitate, reach, quick, etc.) feel free to rest whenever on these, even halfway across :-), it's about technique!
    5x50yd intervals (shooting for 1:00 each with 30s recovery)
    3x75yd intervals (shooting for 1:30 each with 45s recovery)
    200yd cooldown

    I'm planning on moving to some 3x100yd intervals, maybe even a bit longer too. But I'm going at it the way my girlfriend is taking up a "Couch to 5k" program. Start with Run-Walk-Run before you just Run. I know it's frustrating that progress takes so long, but you will get there.

    Another thing, be careful getting advice from books and really experienced people who have never coached raw beginners. They often say things like "keep a high elbow" when you have no idea what the heck they are talking about. Watch videos on YouTube and work on one thing at a time. It will come.

    Peace!
    Jason Kotenko

    Run + Swim + Cycle
    ----------------------------- = Triathlon
    Pain

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by byulax22 View Post
    Which Total Immersion book are you guys recommending? It looks like he has a few of them. There's a Tri specific one, then there's one that goes through the four major strokes.

    http://www.totalimmersion.net/products-books.html

    Thanks!
    I would go with the DVD, Easy freestyle.

    http://www.totalimmersion.net/products-dvds.html

  19. #19
    Member gervelo's Avatar
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    If you are really interestedin total immersion, better you have actual lesson than reading in a book or watching a video...good luck

  20. #20
    Junior Member kervindale's Avatar
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    gerg10...You and I are on the same boat. I just recently started to swim and currently working on my first tri on september 30 here in las vegas. Kakman another member here gave me a great link regarding swim training. I found this site very useful since at the end of each training you feel that there has been accomplishment. Here is the link:
    http://ruthkazez.com/ZeroTo1mile.html
    Hope this helps you out as much as its helping me.

  21. #21
    Member gervelo's Avatar
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    Hey great link Kervindale!!!

  22. #22
    Junior Member Hetshup's Avatar
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    Hey guys, I'm very new to biking, but I am old hat at swimming. I swam competitively for 16 years, and have several open water swims under my belt ( er suit). When start swimming there are a few key things to remember; 1) Your lungs are full of air, much like a balloon. If you are having problems with legs sinking think about your head is placed, you don't walk around looking at the sky, so don't swim looking straight ahead, look down. That way you are forcing your chest down and elevating your hips. 2) Swimmers actually spend very little time flat on their belly. Remember to ROLL. This will not work without proper head position. 3) Since you are cyclists, your legs are very strong I'm sure. When kicking, which I would suggest trying by itself with a kickboard to start then moving to kicking on your side without one; try bending your knees 50% less. One of the biggest problems with new swimmers is they bend their legs way too much. Use the plane of your foreleg as propulsion, if you feel it in your hip flexors you're doing fine.


    Use some of those to start off with, if you have more feel free to let me know. I was a distance swimmer, so I know how that start will feel.

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    I did my first (and only to this point) Triathlon in May '08. It was a mile swim and I finished in just under 28 min. I was shocked. I had never swam in open water before, minus my practice swim the day before. A good half of it I spent in the backstroke position. I felt embarrased at first but once I saw others doing the same I felt more comfortable doing it.

    The point of keeping your head down is huge. I tend to swim with my head up in backyard pools and so that carried over to my training as well. I got better at keeping my head down but the breathing never came to me. I think I tended to panic. So when the day came for the race I started out fine but a few hundred yards out I paniced and started raising my head. I hope that my next race will be better.

    Question: What out of pool training is good for the swim? Breathing, strokes, whatever. What can I do to help my swim when I can't get into a pool?

    Thanks, Fred
    Last edited by Fred Matthews; 12-01-08 at 08:24 PM.

  24. #24
    Junior Member Hetshup's Avatar
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    With the breathing I would recommend choosing a side and sticking to it. Make sure to stretch your neck. Also, when recovering, think of the looking through the window. Your arm should make a triangle , you want to look backwards through it. Once you get used to proper breathing, you should panic less. When i swim in murky waters, I keep my eyes closed while my face is underwater. It keeps the panic at bay.

    In terms of out of water training, the best thing would be a vasa trainer. If you can't get that, try stretch tubes, you can simulate the movement. A huge part of swimming is triceps, so make sure to make them strong.

    Good luck and feel free to PM or IM or whatever it's called, with any questions. I'm happy to help.

  25. #25
    Junior Member jamescaro's Avatar
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    Avoiding the legs dropping while swimming

    There are a few things that you can do:

    1: Get a pool buoy and use this to help you develop good body position awareness in the water. It a compressed foam floatation device that you put between the thighs and helps keep your legs in a more desirable position.

    2: Strengthen your Core Stabilizers - this will help you to maintain the ideal body position when you eventually start to transition away from the pool buoy.

    3: Develop your kick - if your legs are active, they won't have time to sink.

    4: I try to imagine that I am swimming "Downhill" which forces me to pull my legs up an inch / 2 higher behind me.

    5: Read Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin - easy to read, concepts are simple.

    6: Subscribe to my Blog for all your Multi sport requirements

    I hope this helps you a little bit

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