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  1. #1
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    Need help on swim

    I got into the pool for the first time today and while it felt really good and I feel somewhat comfortable I know that I need to improve not just my overall indurance, but more importantly my techniques. Can anyone give me any suggestions of things to try? More specifically I noticed that it felt like I was loosing my breath so I'm assuming that I am not breathing correctly. If anyone has any suggestions on breathing techniques or just overall swimming tips I would appreciate it.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    No one carries the DogBoy
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    What's your swimming background? I'll start by assuming you have only the equivalent of red-cross swimming type of background.

    First off, congratulations, you have recognized the most important part about swimming: technique. To improve technique, you need to do drills and have someone competent watch your stroke to point out the good the bad and the ugly. I suggest finding a masters program (or a HS program) and asking if the coach will watch you and give you some pointers/drills etc to improve your stroke. If that's too much $$ or they aren't available, at least get a good book about swimming, like total immersion.

    Now, as to the breathing. When you breathe, you are only inhaling air. You exhale with your face in the water. The motion is simple. Turn your head until your nose creates a "bow" wave that gives a pocket of air around your mouth. The timing is the more complicated part of breathing.

    This is the way I do it, but that doesn't mean its correct or that it will work for you. I was a competitive swimmer in HS.

    To breathe on the right: The left hand enters the water and the shoulder roll begins to the left side. As the shoulder roll is completed, the right hand has finished its extension. Just before the right hand finishes its extension, you start to turn your head for the breath. As the right arm recovers, you inhale, and turn your head back to the neutral position as your right arm extends and enters the water and the shoulder roll is moving back to the right.

    For overall tips, the best thing you can do for yourself with swimming is to learn to swim correctly before you start increasing your distances. If you swim a lot the wrong way, you reinforce bad technique, making it harder to correct later. Get the form down pat, then slowly increase the distance. When your form breaks, take a breather for :30 or so and then start again with proper form. Whatever you do, don't swim "junk" yards. They hurt more than they help. This is especially true if you are crosstraining with running/biking, since your cardiovascular fitness should already be pretty good. Good luck with the swimming.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the input, I noticed about half way thru my workout this morning that I was not exhaling in the water, rather I was holding my breath and then exhaling and inhaling when I would come up. That is obviously something I need to work on.

    You mentioned getting a book on swimming...any suggestions?

  4. #4
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    All the swimming classes I took used to show me how to move my arms and legs. I had to teach myself how to swim efficiently.
    Breathing is the key and exhaling underwater is the way to do it.
    I like to practice in slow motion, moving and breathing as slowly as possible. It's a martial arts training technique to develpe a skill slowly, then add speed.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cash76
    You mentioned getting a book on swimming...any suggestions?
    www.totalimmersion.net

  6. #6
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    My suggestion on breathing practice as a long time swim instructor is to practice without swimming. What I mean is find a section of a pool that you can stand in about waist deep water. Bend at the waist and put your face in. Simply practice exhaling with your face in the water then turning it to breathe. When you feel comfortable with that then practice the timing by moving your arms like you are swimming with your feet firmly on the pool bottom. Let me know if this helps.

    You can also check with the public pools as they have swim instructors that tend to be more affordable than private clubs. Other organizations like USS (united states swimming) have highly qualified coaches and most of the swimmers can helps as well.

    Best of luck getting your breathing under control.
    I'm just another vehicle on the road.

    "I used to be concieted...but now I'm perfect."

  7. #7
    Member PATriGal's Avatar
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    I agree with the recommendation on Total Immersion. There are a series of books and videos/DVDs and I also think they hold seminars. They focus on technique, and the book/DVD I got is specific for triathlon (endurance) swimming. Even though I swam on my HS swim team, the total immersion methods really helped me improve my "effortless" swimming. My husband tells me that when he watches me swimming in a race, I dont look like I'm even trying - so I think that means it worked! Seriously, I see people in the lane next to me kicking like crazy and taking twice as many arm strokes as me - but we are going the same speed.

  8. #8
    Can i get a WOOT WOOT swimbikerun_boy's Avatar
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    You shouldn't turn your head too much. Turning your head takes away from the rotation that your body should have duriing your stroke. It's more like your rotating on our spine. Your spine stays in the same position but as your hips and shoulders come to 90 degrees on the side that your are breathing on your head follows. Someone correct me if i am wrong but his is how i was taught. A/w it will probably go into futher detail in the books and DVD's

    Hope this helps

    Peace
    Tyler

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by swimbikerun_boy
    You shouldn't turn your head too much. Turning your head takes away from the rotation that your body should have duriing your stroke. It's more like your rotating on our spine. Your spine stays in the same position but as your hips and shoulders come to 90 degrees on the side that your are breathing on your head follows.

    That's correct. I had to stand up and "swim" it out but that is dead on. There is nothing like practing in the pool to help though. I keep trying to teach my wife how to breathe on the side. This is not something that comes natural, but is learned and done enough to become routine.
    I'm just another vehicle on the road.

    "I used to be concieted...but now I'm perfect."

  10. #10
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    it's basically all been said.

    just wanted to add a really good website:

    www.svl.ch

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by PATriGal
    I agree with the recommendation on Total Immersion. There are a series of books and videos/DVDs and I also think they hold seminars. They focus on technique, and the book/DVD I got is specific for triathlon (endurance) swimming.
    I was looking at their site and noticed that they have a video called "Freestyle Made Easy". Would you suggest this video or the Tri specific one that you got?

    Thanks for all the input

  12. #12
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    Cash - I got mine as a set. The book is called 'Triathlon Swimming Made Easy' and the DVD is called 'Freestyle Swimming Made Easy.' The two complement eachother and describe the same drills and techniques. I just think the DVD is helpful so you can actually SEE how it's done. But, the book is surprisingly good at describing the techniques and how they are supposed to "feel".

    You might want to see if the book is available through your local library. I paid $50 for the two which seemed like a lot for a paperback and a 20 min. DVD. Then again, it did help me improve, so I guess it was worth the money!

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    Thanks for all of the input from everyone, I got back in the pool again today and felt much more comfortable than I did the other day...it's amazing how much breathing helps

  14. #14
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    Cash,

    Don't over-engineer it. One problem fit bikers have is heavy, dense, muscular legs. Many swimmers have bird legs and real "guns" for arms. If you are a biker or runner first, be SURE that you are as flat in the water as possible to reduce drag. Bent knees and dangling toes add up to a lot of drag by the end of 1500 meters.

    I kick just enough to keep level for most of the swim. For reference only, I'm 54 and just pretty average at 26 minutes for the 1500 meters in a pool.

    Tyson

  15. #15
    Senior Member ht001's Avatar
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    Crucible Fitness is another web site you might want to take a look at...

    http://cruciblefitness.com/etips/swimming.htm
    "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." --T S Eliot

  16. #16
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    I'll put my vote in for total immersion. I've used both the book and video mentioned, and they were helpful. Then I signed up for a weekend workshop, but it fell through. So instead, I got with a total immersion coach (they were listed on the website, and he was going to be involved with the workshop) for some private lessons, and that has helped more than anything. I spent 6 months retooling my stroke, only doing drills. I swam competitively in high school, but swimming has changed since then. It's about technique, not power.

  17. #17
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    I'm attending a Total Immersion class this coming weekend in Seattle, WA. I realize that swimming is all about technique and rather then spend a lot of time in the pool practicing bad habits I wanted to get the instruction first.
    I've never done a tri before and am looking at participating this year. Last year was the running 'thing' and I completed a marathon. Since then I've been biking like crazy and really need to get in the pool!

  18. #18
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    Awesome! Let me know how you like the weekend seminar!

  19. #19
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    I. too, was on my high school swim team (several decades ago.)

    I started my TI class last week......

    It's the REAL DEAL.....

    caution DO THE DRILLS and don't freestyle

    get the dvd and download the manual (from the website)

    get the book

    more to come...........................

  20. #20
    On Your Right ZackJones's Avatar
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    I have been working on converting over to the total immersion way of swimming and I am seeing a difference even after 3 weeks of working on it. Here's some things that have helped me:

    1 - Think long. I want to make my body as long as possible in the water. The longer it is the better I'm able to slice through the water.

    2 - Concentrate, really concentrate on what you're trying to do when doing the drills.

    3 - Fins help when doing drills.

    4 - Initiate the breathing roll with your hips instead of your shoulders. It feels odd at first but it does make the roll from side to side easier. Roll your whole body and not just your head.

    I'm going to order the DVD. I'm certain I'll pick up more after watching the video to see how it's done properly.

  21. #21
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    I just got the DVD yesterday and I took a look at it, and there is a ton of info on it. The only problem is that it seems like a lot of the drills are supposed to be done with a partner (which I don't have). But just by watching a little of the video I have already picked up on some "bad habits" that I have and that I can definitely concentrate on improving.

  22. #22
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    I got a coach (at my local athletic club) and I was blown away by the impact her tips made on my swimming all within the span of 30 minutes. I keep taking one weekly lesson for the next month. I was slow, laboring and so inefficient, now I am on to it. It's all very logical but still counter intuitive.....combining all the techniques into one correct form all at once takes practice....I find breathing consistently the hardest...we are not used to being immersed in water, and being horizontally propelled....if you are serious about swimming and you never really learned proper form and technique, get a few coaching sessions....

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by UKNOWHO
    That's correct. I had to stand up and "swim" it out but that is dead on. There is nothing like practing in the pool to help though. I keep trying to teach my wife how to breathe on the side. This is not something that comes natural, but is learned and done enough to become routine.
    I used to do this with 9 year olds...but it might be worth the try:

    Do your flutter kick on a kickboard with your arms out streched and your hands gripping the bottom of the board. Leave your face in the water. Constantly exhale your breath as you kick (not all at once...keep it consistent). When it is time to breathe, drop your arm on the side that you are breathing on (point it down toward the bottom), turn your head and breath. Turn your face back into the water while you recover your arm back to the board by completing the stroke (remember your head turns, it never "comes up"). This helps to get that timing down with your arm. It also helps you to get used to taking the breath without stopping your flutter kick (surprisingly, that is a hugely common problem).

  24. #24
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    I got a swim coach about 2 months ago and it has done me a world of good, simply amazing what I didn't know.....I could barely cross the pool freestyle without getting winded. Now I can swim 500 meters non stop in about 10 minutes....I am practicing 4 times a week including one 30 min coaching session and I am still on a steep learning curve....water is very dense, you cannot brute force 'will' your way through....you must develop efficient technique...most people require professional help to get there....

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by james_holden
    it's basically all been said.

    just wanted to add a really good website:

    www.svl.ch
    Thanks for a great link. I've been reading many online articles about swimming lately (after paying for the bike, gear etc, no money left for a swimming book ) But it was hard making sense of the articles since most of them didn't have any pictures. This website really cleared things up!

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