General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Encouragement for Beginning Swimmers(long..sorry) Rss Feed  
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2006-12-07 8:19 AM

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Subject: Encouragement for Beginning Swimmers(long..sorry)
There have been several threads recently about swimming in particular regarding beginning swimmers. While I still consider myself a beginner I thought I would give my account over the last several months of fear, frustration, improvement, and enjoyment of swimming.

Let me drop back a year…yes a year! I was determined to complete a triathlon so I started swimming. It was awful! I was afraid of the water! I got really frustrated and kind of gave up on it for a while. I started swimming regularly over the summer again and back came the fear and frustration. I really made no progress other than developing a pretty decent side stroke. Never the less I worked my endurance (freestyle but mostly side stroke) up enough for a sprint in August.

Then came race day. I was in the first wave and I thought everything was fine until the gun sounded. In a flurry of arms, legs, etc I got kicked a few times and that was it! Panic set in and I found myself 50 yards into the swim doing side stroke scared to death and hyperventilating. I exhausted myself and couldn’t find the energy to continue. And I heard the second wave start behind me and I was afraid that I would get swamped. I had to be pulled from the water and taken to shore. I did proceed with the bike and run but I was devastated to say the least.

I took a short break from swimming after that. Then in September I was determined to get over this problem. However, I still couldn’t swim more than a few yards without problems. I started taking private lessons at my YMCA from an experienced triathlete that actually witnessed my first triathlon disaster. He approached my and thought he could help. Within a few lessons I had some resemblance of a decent stroke. This was much improved over just a few weeks before that. I wished I would have done this months ago!

Several lessons and many hours later in the pool I can say that I know enjoy the pool time and look forward to my swim workouts. I have really improved my stroke and built up my endurance. My workouts are now up to 800 – 1000 yards now. I still have a ways to go but can now see that my goals are attainable. I’m determined to get my endurance up and be able to complete a Half Ironman in July 2007. Lofty goals but very attainable.

So, take my advice: if you are struggling get help with lessons/coaches. It has changed my whole outlook on swimming!


2006-12-07 8:31 AM
in reply to: #618316

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Subject: RE: Encouragement for Beginning Swimmers(long..sorry)

Great story! I am sort of in the same boat. My wife was a swimmer her whole life and swam for Auburn in college. She started doing tri' 5 years ago and I always went and volunteered but never thought I could do one because of the swim. Last summer I got the bug and she coached me in the pool. I thought it was completely rediculous that I could run 3 miles but couldnt swim 50 meters! After a lot of time in the water, my first tri swim actually went pretty smooth. Other than the fact that I had not even considered sighting and swam waaaaay off course! I was never scared of the water, just frusterated at how bad I was at swimming.

After a lot of time in the water, it gets easier and easier. I am still no where near fast, but I am not intimidated by the swim near as much. I too am plannon on a 1/2 IM in 07, April to be exact. To all the new swimmers, just give it time and I promise, it will get better! 

2006-12-07 8:45 AM
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Champion
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Subject: RE: Encouragement for Beginning Swimmers(long..sorry)
Huzzah!

Thanks for sharing this part of your journey.

Just a small piece of advice, find a sprint tri with an open water swim before your HIM!
2006-12-07 8:55 AM
in reply to: #618352

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Subject: RE: Encouragement for Beginning Swimmers(long..sorry)
Yep! That's in the plan. My instructor said that I had to do at least a couple of sprints before that as well as open water training.

McFuzz - 2006-12-07 9:45 AM

Huzzah!

Thanks for sharing this part of your journey.

Just a small piece of advice, find a sprint tri with an open water swim before your HIM!
2006-12-07 9:32 AM
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Subject: RE: Encouragement for Beginning Swimmers(long..sorry)
I definitely agree with all of this. I think one of the key take aways is getting a good stroke. Forget fitness for a minute. If you're not comfortable in the water and confident that you have a good basic stroke, then get some help. Don't buy the race wheels, or the other fancy do-dads for now. Go find a good coach and take some private lessons. A good stroke will do more for your speed and endurance than countless hours in the pool.

When I first started 2 years ago, I couldn't do 50 meters without being completely winded. At the end of a lap I felt like I had just done a 400 yard sprint. This was despite the fact that I could easily run 7-10 miles on a regular basis. I did 1 very short and frustrating workout in the pool and then got some help. I took a 1 hour lesson in an endless pool....with Kona runner up Desiree Ficker, no less (though I had no idea who she was at the time). Being in the endless pool was great because I was always right in front of Desiree, there's a mirror on the bottom so you can actually see your own stroke, and they had an underwater camera that she could use as well.

In that hour, she made a lot of changes and suggestions to my stroke that made a huge difference. Now, I'm extremely lucky in that I was born with very good body position awareness. That means I can look at somebody doing something and do a pretty good imitating it. That lets me pick things up pretty quickly. Your mileage may vary.

After that, I still couldn't go 50 meters without being exhausted, but I felt smooth and confident in the water. I pushed to 100m, then 150, and so on. In less than a month, I was doing 500.

The point of this long, rambling follow up is that if you have a good stroke, the fitness will come quickly. Your heart and lungs are used to delivering plenty of oxygen. Your arms just aren't used to using it. That takes far less time to develop than the cardio vascular side. Cheers!
2006-12-07 10:08 AM
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Subject: RE: Encouragement for Beginning Swimmers(long..sorry)
Good encouraging words for beginning swimmers!

Though I've never had any real "issues" with swimming, I'll second those who encourage you to "stick with it." I just did my longest swim workout ever -- 4000 yards -- and I'm pretty amazed at how much I've improved, thanks to consistent work and coaching advice.



2006-12-07 10:17 AM
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Subject: RE: Encouragement for Beginning Swimmers(long..sorry)
i only had swimming problems when i was swimming for a team. my problem was breathing to the side. i couldnt breathe to the side because i didnt have a smooth stroke it was pretty wild. so i had waves following me and every time i took a breath water would get into my mouth. that was three years ago i am glad to say i have gotten better at my swimming. i still cant go more than 500m nonstop but i plan on improving that this year since i am planning two oly's this year.

so in other words get a good stroke and then everything else will fall into place. good luck
2006-12-07 10:46 AM
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Subject: RE: Encouragement for Beginning Swimmers(long..sorry)
It's great to hear this kind of stuff as a new swimmer. I'm signing up for lessons through my gym to start in January and am uber-excited about it. Right now I can swim about enough to save my life...that's about it. I'm really hoping the lessons will help.
2006-12-07 10:49 AM
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Subject: RE: Encouragement for Beginning Swimmers(long..sorry)
I'm one of those beginners and I can echo your experience. In the several weeks I've been swimming, I've worked with a coach, overcome mucho frustration, and now enjoy swimming. I'm going in again today just to try out suggestions from my coach after finishing yesterday.

For all those swim beginners... Have someone who knows watch your stroke. It can make a huge difference in a short period of time and keep you from getting completely frustrated!
2006-12-07 1:52 PM
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Subject: RE: Encouragement for Beginning Swimmers(long..sorry)
Thanks for the post. It is really encouraging to those of us just starting and having problems with the swim part.
2006-12-07 2:30 PM
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2006-12-09 9:21 AM
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Subject: RE: Encouragement for Beginning Swimmers(long..sorry)
Thanks for sharing your story. It helps others to know it will only get better with time.

I started out at basically zero-I could only swim half of one 25 yard length. I feared the water and did not know how to swim at all. The first step I took was to get a swim coach. The first year was spent doing a lot of drills and working on technique--patience is a virtue! I finishing my second year of swimming and have done only one sprint tri with a pool swim. My swim workouts total 1,800-2,300 yards (drills, sets, wu, cd).

OWS scares the heck out of me! I took one OWS lesson and did fine but a race with dark, deep water and people swimming over you and hitting you has been very tough for me to overcome. I will be going to a twice weekly OWS class starting in June 2007--mind over matter. I can swim 1,000 plus yards non-stop in the pool-no excuses.

If I can do it, anyone can!
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