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2022-06-30 9:56 AM


11

Watertown, New York
Subject: Learning to swim better
First post in a LONG time. I have yet to complete a race because I always withdraw (or just don’t show up) on race day. I just have no confidence in my ability to swim 800m. I’ve tried to learn front crawl since 2019, but with little improvement. I can swim about 75m but at that point, I need about a minute break before I can continue. Breast stroke I can do in a pool for 800m, but the wetsuit makes it A LOT harder. I tried this morning in open water, and need 3 breaks (lake is shallow enough to stand) to finish 800m.

My next race (that I really want to do) is in 10 days, and in a lake where you can’t stand up! Is there anything I could do in 10 days to help me finish? I’ve tried to take lessons, but the nearest Masters club or Tri team is more than 1 1/2 hours from my house. That’s too far for my work schedule to make. There is definitely nothing local.

Edited by Motormouth 2022-06-30 9:57 AM


2022-06-30 11:23 AM
in reply to: Motormouth

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1500
1000500
Cypress, Texas
Subject: RE: Learning to swim better

Originally posted by Motormouth First post in a LONG time. I have yet to complete a race because I always withdraw (or just don’t show up) on race day. I just have no confidence in my ability to swim 800m. I’ve tried to learn front crawl since 2019, but with little improvement. I can swim about 75m but at that point, I need about a minute break before I can continue. Breast stroke I can do in a pool for 800m, but the wetsuit makes it A LOT harder. I tried this morning in open water, and need 3 breaks (lake is shallow enough to stand) to finish 800m. My next race (that I really want to do) is in 10 days, and in a lake where you can’t stand up! Is there anything I could do in 10 days to help me finish? I’ve tried to take lessons, but the nearest Masters club or Tri team is more than 1 1/2 hours from my house. That’s too far for my work schedule to make. There is definitely nothing local.

Ya...when I go into triathlon in 2015, the nearest Masters groups just as far away for me.  We only have one pool that was open year round within 50 miles of me and it was a 15 yard exercise with no lane line.  I only made it about 25 feet at a time when I started.  My problem was that I was running out of air and panicking.  What is limiting you?  If you can do 800m of breast stroke it isn't your conditioning.  Are you getting muscle aches, joint pain, out of breath, having panic attacks, feeling claustrophobic, other?   

After my first time in the pool I when to YouTube and searched for breathing drills I could do on the wall.  Then I spent the next two weeks not even attempting to swim laps but just working on breathing. It turned out that my body position and body rotation were the problem.  Once I got that correct I could swim about 800 yds before I got tiered and built about 100 yds a week after that and I built endurance. 

So...can you be ready in 10 days?  Mabey?  You can identify the problem and it is a form thing that you can correct with YouTube videos/drill 10 days is enough time.  If it is a physical limitation then 10 days isn't going to make a big difference in preparation. 

If you can float on your back I would say go for it.  The race day adrenaline make things go faster that they do in training.  you can go as far as you are able then float on your back to rest.  You also can rotate between stroke.  Back stroke is a good rest stroke, you already have breast stroke for sighting and getting on course, and if you can get any front crawl in that will help too.

My first race my only goal on the swim was to do the whole swim in front crawl.  The longest training swim session I had ever done was about 1300 yds and I had a 2100 yds swim.  I made it bout 1500 yds before I had to roll on my back.  I did back stroke for about 300 yds then was able to finish with the front crawl.     

2022-06-30 12:52 PM
in reply to: BlueBoy26


11

Watertown, New York
Subject: RE: Learning to swim better
I think it’s mostly inability to breathe. I’m really comfortable in breast stroke, but I’m learning as an adult in my 40s. Front crawl feels REALLY foreign. I can catch and breath, and inhale water on every stroke. The way to avoid this is lifting my head, which means my legs sink and I have to fight to get going again. Rinse and repeat 10+ times, and I’m exhausted. My wife is a great swimmer (half IM competitor and old college swimmer), and swims with me so I don’t swim open water alone, but won’t give me any advice to avoid that kind of weird spouse/coach relationship. But with no one else to watch me swim and tell me what I’m doing wrong, it’s hard to get better.
2022-07-01 9:32 AM
in reply to: Motormouth

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Champion
7536
5000200050025
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Subject: RE: Learning to swim better

Sorry for the somewhat late reply, I think you've still got a week though!  

First:  Attitude.  Ditch the "I have no confidence" mindset.  Instead, think of all the practical ways you can complete the 800 m open water swim that don't include swimming "kayak to kayak."  Breaststroke, sidestroke, doggie paddle will all get you from point A to point B even if they're not fast or efficient.  The caveat (former lifeguard/swim instructor here) you're ultimately responsible for your own safety in the water.  I wouldn't bet MY life on the lifeguard being on the kayak exactly where I need him/her and 100% focused on me at the exclusion of the other participants! 

Second:  SLOW DOWN!  I understand it...you're nervous and then tense up which makes breathing and swimming harder than necessary and pretty soon, you're worn out fighting yourself.  Swim like you're going for a walk in the park, not running a 25 m dash!  For the kids I taught, I'd explain they're not trying to "kill snakes" in the water. 

Third:  Many beginning/inexperienced swimmers subscribe to the "blast and gasp" breathing technique.  They hold in their breath, then blast out their exhale and gasp for another breath in that short time when their mouth is out of the water.  Hum!  Exhale gently while your face is in the water then ROTATE to breathe in more air.  Slowly and controlled.  If you get some water in your mouth along with the air, you're breathing in slowly so it stays in your mouth and you can expel it back into the pool/lake.  Since you're not gasping, you're not drawing it into your lungs.  You'll eventually get more comfortable which makes taking in a bit of water less disruptive.  Also, practice (not in the next week) breathing both to the left and to the right.  You can switch sides to get air on the less chaotic side (either due to wind, waves, or an adjacent swimmer) and now you've got another tool for when you miss getting a breath (just get it on the next stroke or half-stroke).  I learned to breathe on either side because I wanted to be able to show the kids I was teaching regardless of whether they wanted to breathe left or right.  Depending on what I'm trying to do, I may breathe every 4th arm pull (every other right/left), every 3rd (left-pull-pull-right-pull-pull) or every 2nd (every time my left/right arm comes out). 

As I said earlier, ROTATE to get a breath.  If you're breathing to the right, your left ear stays in the water!  You've already indicated how lifting your head makes your legs sink (physics is great, isn't it!)  As you get better, you'll go faster and you'll create a little "trough" next to your ears and won't have to rotate as far to find air.  (Initially, you'll probably rotate close to 90°, eventually maybe 30-45°

You can practice going slowly, humming, and rotating just by pushing off the side of the pool and gliding (no arm movement, no kicking).  Experiment will small changes to head position, hand position, foot position to see what gets you the longest glide, all the while you're humming in the water and learning to RELAX. 

2022-07-02 10:28 AM
in reply to: McFuzz


11

Watertown, New York
Subject: RE: Learning to swim better
Good tips - thanks! I got in open water this week for the first time in many years, and it was good to see that I won't somehow magically sink - swimming kind of works the same in a lake versus a pool. My wife is a great swimmer - has done some half IM distance events and swam in college. She's never wanted to coach me AT ALL, but I'm finally getting her to watch me in the pool and offer some tips. Her main critique, which doesn't help, is that I obviously didn't learn as a kids like she did, so nothing is instinctual to me. But once I get her to tell me about specifics that I need to work on, I seem to be able to get after those issues.
2022-07-08 3:07 PM
in reply to: Motormouth

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1731
100050010010025
Denver, Colorado
Subject: RE: Learning to swim better
Total Immersion book was a game changer for me. I only read maybe a quarter of that book and I was a swimmer - I completed Sprints, Oly, and HIM swim in a lake.
Before reading that book (or rather a quarter of that book...) I took group lessons, individual lessosn, and watched absolutely everything o YouTube - nothing helped. My first three races I did in breaststroke.
Until that book. I bought an old version on Amazon for like one dollar.... Again - game changer.

As for the workout - my favorite one is 50x50. Basically, you swim one length of the pool (or a lap, depending on how you feel), then count ten breaths, and do another length. Cout ten breaths, and swim, and repeat.... Does it make sense? I only trained with that method - did not try to swim one super long distance, and completed Oly triathlon. I think what is best with this training is that you do not allow yourself to do bad form, so your brain does not memorize bad habits. i remember somebody's advice that once you feel your form gets weak, you should pause (or end the workout).

I hope it helps. It helped me (and I am slow and weak swimmer).


2022-08-08 9:45 AM
in reply to: Motormouth

Subject: RE: Learning to swim better
Originally posted by Motormouth

I think it’s mostly inability to breathe. I’m really comfortable in breast stroke, but I’m learning as an adult in my 40s. Front crawl feels REALLY foreign. I can catch and breath, and inhale water on every stroke. The way to avoid this is lifting my head, which means my legs sink and I have to fight to get going again. Rinse and repeat 10+ times, and I’m exhausted. My wife is a great swimmer (half IM competitor and old college swimmer), and swims with me so I don’t swim open water alone, but won’t give me any advice to avoid that kind of weird spouse/coach relationship. But with no one else to watch me swim and tell me what I’m doing wrong, it’s hard to get better.


I learned to swim more than a cross of doggy paddle and breast stroke in my 40s. I tried taking swimming lessons, but it just did not work for me as I wasn't, get a better stroke student, I was a, I can't do the crawl or breath at all swimmer so the language was foreign and they freaked me out even more when they couldn't . What did work for me, I went to a swim clinic for a local triathlon club - I did NOT get in the water, rather I volunteered to help the coach. as the people swam up and down the lane, she would tell me what to put on their index card to help improve their swim. That way I could see what they were doing and knew what they could do to improve then go work on those different things on my own. I also got in a back yard pool and would work on breathing 8 strokes at a time. just up and down the short pool, 8 strokes, work on breathing. baby stepped it there. I also sat next to a swim coach on an airplane and he said, once you have the basics, just swim. 4x a week, even if just 30 minutes, your body will also figure out how to do it if you just enjoy the swim rather than overthink the mechanics. I second the thought on total immersion. I find it more helpful to watch the youtube video as I am a visual learner.
I am still not a great swimmer, but I can do 2.5 miles in the pool slow and steady, bilateral breathing, without stopping and I kinda enjoy swimming now. people touching me in the water, well, that still freaks me out, but I get to the back of the swim crowd and keep swimming, swimming, swimming. I tell myself, just ten strokes, then you can do a breast stroke or two. then 20, then back to 10, then how about 14, lol. My last ironman swim I knocked 40 minutes off my previous time. Just stay in the present rather than, I have to do the crawl the whole way.
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