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  1. #1
    Senior Member CanadianBiker32's Avatar
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    How to Make Pool Swimming fun

    I was thinking of getting into TRI awhile ago. However For swimming cause i live in a northern climate, most of the year, swimming is restricted to inside in a pool doing laps.
    I find though doing laps back and forth , timeline goes by slow and it gets very boring. I do like swimming as it is, but
    how does one mentally stimulate themselves for doing laps in a pool.
    I know someone might suggest a wetsuit for swimming outside, well even with wetsuit i can only swim in our lakes from May to September maybe , if that,
    so pool swimming is only option for most of year

  2. #2
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    I'm like you. I've been swimming since I was 3 yrs old. Comfortable in the water. Still, it has been really hard for me to motivate myself to swim laps. Recently I've decided I need to do fast intervals if I want to improve. So, it has helped a little having specific goals for lap speeds, recovering times, etc. Trying to turn it into a sort of game and it has helped a bit. I'm certainly open to more ideas. I suspect a coach would help as well.

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    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    I bought one of those cheap waterproof MP3 players. Works well enough, a mile goes by pretty quickly and the right playlist helps with cadence.

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    How do you swim your laps, just tick over the distance or intervals? If the former start with various intervals - doubt you will get bored when gasping for breath after the 20th 100m interval with short recovery...
    http://climbinglama.blogspot.com.au

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    Senior Member b2run's Avatar
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    I'm in Northern Ontario so I know where you're coming from. I have a wetsuit, socks, and gloves which puts me in the water earlier that I would have thought and I'm not one who enjoys cold water. Once you are forced indoors though, I would suggest joining a masters group. It's a lot more fun when there are others around and also, I find I push myself more. I also mix it up in the pool. Do some technique laps, do some strength laps, do some speed laps.
    Good luck with your tris.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
    I bought one of those cheap waterproof MP3 players. Works well enough, a mile goes by pretty quickly and the right playlist helps with cadence.
    This. I have just bought and tried one, and it works a treat, surprisingly so. It's now a permanent part of my swimming gear.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    There are lots of different ways you can switch up your laps to make them less boring - but some of my advice will depend on your ability to perform alternate strokes at speed.

    One of my favorite one plus mile swims is thus - you need to have yourself set up with leg buoy and kick board at your lane.

    Swim 300 yards freestyle, then grab the kick board and kick 100 yards, then swap to the leg buoy and do 100 yard arms only. Do not stop in between, only long enough to switch from kick to pull aid.

    Rest one minute.

    Swim 200 yards breast-stroke, then grab the kick board and do 100 yards breast kick, then grab the leg buoy and do 100 yards arms only. Arms only breast stroke is not the easiest, so do your best to use good form.

    Rest one minute.

    Swim 100 yards backstroke, then do 100 yards kick only on your back (no kick board needed), then leg buoy 100 yard arms only. Back stroke is my least favorite so I do the shortest here, if you like back stroke but hate breast, switch these two.

    Rest one minute.

    Now go back to the breast regimen, rest one minute, and then repeat the freestyle regimen.

    All told you swim 500+400+300+400+500 = 2100 yards, or about 1 1/4 miles.

    You could also do this routine all freestyle, or anything else. The nice part of it is is works on your arms only stroke which should be helpful for tri-day because you ideally want to save your legs for the bike and run if you can.

    Another workout I do is switch from free to breast to back every 200 yards, do that circuit 3 times and you are done with one mile. While you would rarely, or never use a breast or backstroke in competition, it helps to work your whole body, and keeps things different. Use these once a week to ward off boredom.

    If you are looking to add speed, then you need to get into serious interval speed training. But on your "slow days" you can try these to keep things different.
    "If I were creating the world I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, Day One!" - Evil

  8. #8
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    Ladder sets and golf sets were always my favorite when I competed.

    Also having someone of similar ability is also good, then you can work off each other to push your limits and it removes boredom. Try joining a masters group maybe?

    Ladder sets involve start low build up and descend: i.e. 8*25, 4*50, 2*100, 200, 200 , 2*100, 4*50, 8*25. Set the interval based on what you can do, with rest between steps.

    The golf set is the desire to get low totals in a set of 50's. It is the time to swim added to strokes taken and get the lowest possible number.

    I also enjoyed the torture of the set of 75 done with decreasing numbers of breaths each 25, even throwing in a no breath 25 or 50. But those lungs are years behind me. So in a 75 do 5 breaths, then 3, then 2 and play with the numbers to give a hard workout.

    I think that it is important to throw in some other stroke sets if you can. I think that adding butterfly is a good extra workout for the core. But it takes a lot to get good. Start by doing 1 arm butterfly (one arm in front the other to stroke(, alternating arms and crescendo the number on each side. Then as you get used to throw in some two arm strokes. But I know that in a public pool people do not like others making waves by doing fly, and there is not a lot of space for the full arm fly.

    You can also throw in some 100 m IM (Fly, back, breast and free in that order).

    After decades of swimming motivation is still hard at times. Just get in and learn to push yourself. When training hard for running or biking are you really noticing the scenery? I also would have practice conversations with myself for my Spanish class orals on longer sets.

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    In contrast to most people I grew up swimming competitively. I find it very challenging to not swim laps when at a pool. I find pools useless other than training. I also get bored at beaches. I find the best way I spend my time at a beach is swimming out and back and diving for stuff. I had a great time honing my bare hand crab catching on my vacation a few weeks. After I scrapped the barnacles off the bottom of the boat, while it was still in the water.

    To me water is for bathing or swimming. Aside from the water needed to sustain life.

  10. #10
    Legs; OK! Lungs; not! bobthib's Avatar
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    jrossbeck and joeyduck have some good advice for some "games" or other goal based efforts. I like "golf" (lap time plus strokes/lap) and trying to get that as low as possible. But getting better requires better form and technique, which can be very difficult to diagnose and correct on your own.

    I joined a local Master's swim class, and that was a huge advantage. It's fun, social, and a bit competitive. And the coach gives you advice on how to improve form and technique.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    swim faster?
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  12. #12
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    Pretend a shark or gator is chasing you?

    I am always faced with people much slower than me in the same lane. I like to play the "How many times can I pass you in a 200?" game or "How many 100s can I swim before you finish your 100?" game.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeyduck View Post
    Pretend a shark or gator is chasing you?

    I am always faced with people much slower than me in the same lane. I like to play the "How many times can I pass you in a 200?" game or "How many 100s can I swim before you finish your 100?" game.
    I figured all you aquatic types are doing just that as I am the slow one in the pool.

  14. #14
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    @OldTryGuy
    Unless you are remarkably slow I tend to not keep track. There was a woman at the y once and I swear I could swim a 100 before she got 35 done. But she was there everyday giving it.

    Mildly off topic rant:
    I hate when someone pushes off when I am coming in for a turn. And I have consistently been passing them.

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    Also - I didn't see it noted here, but maybe it was. Make sure you do at least a few laps everytime you go to the pool breathing on your "weak side". For most right handed people this would be breathing on your left side (i.e. when pulling with left arm). When you get in the deep water for a Tri, you will want the ablity to breathe on both sides for numerous reasons (sighting land, person kicking on your strong side, waves coming on your strong side).

    Practice breating every 3rd or 5th stroke at first - this allows you to breathe on your weak side only every other breath. Once you get more comfortable, breathe only on your weak side for entire length or lap to really hone it down.

    20+ years of swimming, and I still am way more comfortable breathing off my right side, but can breathe only on left if I have to.
    "If I were creating the world I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, Day One!" - Evil

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrossbeck View Post
    Also - I didn't see it noted here, but maybe it was. Make sure you do at least a few laps everytime you go to the pool breathing on your "weak side". For most right handed people this would be breathing on your left side (i.e. when pulling with left arm). When you get in the deep water for a Tri, you will want the ablity to breathe on both sides for numerous reasons (sighting land, person kicking on your strong side, waves coming on your strong side).

    Practice breating every 3rd or 5th stroke at first - this allows you to breathe on your weak side only every other breath. Once you get more comfortable, breathe only on your weak side for entire length or lap to really hone it down.

    20+ years of swimming, and I still am way more comfortable breathing off my right side, but can breathe only on left if I have to.
    Good advice, it also helps to straighten out ones stroke.

    I am left handed and consequently turned my head left o breath; I used to always catch mouthfuls of water from teammates; that offers its own interesting training advantage. So I self trained and can do either easily.

    It makes it much nicer to be able to do both sides in open water when a wave catches you off guard and you can just breath on the following stroke.

  17. #17
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    Haha - we had a couple lefties on our swim team and they hated circle swimming. I don't blame them.

    My son is a lefty, and unless something changes he's going to have a good build for swimming - long torso and arms vs. shorter legs. Just hope he likes it, it's one of the few sports I won't have a problem pushing on him. I'll have to keep in mind to start him breathing on his right early on!!
    "If I were creating the world I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, Day One!" - Evil

  18. #18
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    I also want to push life sports like the swimming, cycling, xc skiing, racket sports and running.

    I am hesitant to let my son get into sports where the sexist, chauvinistic, machismo idiocy attitude prevails such as football and hockey. I know they are not all like this but I do no see them a good role model sports.

    Thankfully he loves biking and swimming and running. He is only four though, so many things change.

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    What really got me addicted to swimming was joining a group. Check out usms.org to find a masters affiliated group in your area. They are very beginner friendly and typically have lanes assigned to swimmers of different speeds, and variations of the workouts to match speed/ability. Having the coaching and someone to figure out different/interesting workouts is key, as is being able to swim with people you know and encourage each other.

  20. #20
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    Even though I can motivate myself I have been thinking of joining a club also. There is something about the external motivation and accountability that make you train harder.

    I used to swim at the same time as a club in my grad school days. The club coach was the university assistant coach. He would let me join in practices if I wanted the extra challenge or if they were doing timed 1500's. Occasionally he would use me as a technique example; I would notice him pointing then all swimmers bobbing under to watch me swim by.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Add Sharks ..

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