View Full Version : Some Advice Needed

February 17th, 2009, 09:38 AM
Hi, All. I am looking for some guildance. I am looking to improve my swimming technique and fitness.

I am 45 and I would characterize myself as a beginner-plus. I did swim in high school; although, I was not terribly competitive - "participate on the team" is probably a better description :) That was almost 30 years ago.

About 6 months ago, I began swimming at a local pool (SCM). I currently swim 3 times per week, as follows:

Day 1 - 2000 total meters - 500 free wu; 5x100 r0:20, 5x75 r0:15, 5x50 r0:10, 5x25 r0:05 (all free); 5x50 back r0:15 wd (total time 50+ min)
Day 2 - 2000 total meters - 400 free wu; 5x50, 3x100, 1x200, 3x100, 5x50 r0:15 (all free); 400 breast wd (total time 50+ min)
Day 3 - 2000 free w/out stopping (total time approx 45 min)
I breath only on my left side and I am breathing every time I take a stroke with my left arm. I notice that I am using my right arm to leverage/life my body to breath. I would like to step up my distance and intensity of my workouts, and I would like to learn alternate strokes (breast, fly and back). I am concerned that if I increase workout distances, etc. without first improper technique, I may injure myself. I am starting to notice an ache in my right sholder and clearly my right sholder and arm is working harder than my left (and definitely feels as though it is)- that can't be good :(. Flip turns have not been in the picture :)

So, my free style technique obvioulsy needs a lot of work. My breast and back even need even more; and my butterfly is non-existent.

I have swam a few times at a local masters practice, but there does not seem to be much individualized attention - Please understand, I am not being critical, it just doesn't seem to be the way that that group is set up. Because of family commitments, my optimum routine practice time is very early in the AM; other local master programs seem to be evening oriented, and the reality is that I just cannot make those practices.

My thought is that if I could get some one-on-one attention, that I could then better benefit/participate into a group/master workouts.

My problem is that I am having difficulty locating someone that can help one on one. One option is to try to teach myself thru books/dvds, another is to attend a morning masters group and try to pick up stuff from the group practices, a third option is to work with a local TI coach. I guess a forth option would be a combination of the foregoing.

Sorry for the long post! Any help/suggestions on how to best go from here would be very much appreciated. How best would I focus my time and attention?

Thank you for your time.

February 17th, 2009, 09:53 AM
My first response is to say "Get some one-on-one advice" but since I haven't done that myself and I'm getting my strokes in order pretty well on my own, I'll tell you what I have done.

I got a couple of Go-Swim videos - All Strokes and Freestyle with Karyn Pipes-Nielson(sp?) and I spent a fair amount of time watching the segments, doing the drills, and practicing the strokes. I also subscribed for one of the swimming magazines (Swim? I can't remember) for a couple of years and I got a ton of useful info from the features and special articles. I think you can learn a lot from printed materials and videos if you're willing to put in the time and tinker around.

However, I recently decided that I need to learn a new turn for my back to breast transition in the IM and I just can't get it on my own. So I guess for some things there's no substitute for a little one-on-one time with someone who really knows what they're doing and can give advice.

Good luck no matter what you decide to do....just keep swimming!

February 17th, 2009, 11:29 AM
Welcome back.:applaud: Now find a masters team & join. They will help you with ALL this & more. The new friends will be more than you expect & better for all things swimming. :banana:Good luck!

February 17th, 2009, 04:07 PM
I have swam a few times at a local masters practice, but there does not seem to be much individualized attention - Please understand, I am not being critical, it just doesn't [FONT=Comic Sans MS][COLOR=#0000ff]seem to be the way that that group is set up.

I'd estimate that 80% of my masters workouts are pretty much do what the coach says, get out, and that's it. For at least half of our team, that could be even 100%. Some people just want to get in, exercise, get out, and get on with their lives.

But for me, that other 20% is extremely critical. I'll chat with my coach before/after/during practice, ask for feedback, tell him my goals (swimming and other things sports-wise), and it is amazing what they'll help with. When they know what else I'm doing (such as running a marathon), they may guide me towards a more appropriate swim workout before it. Heck, last summer, I was going to swim on my own the next day, asked the coach to help me with a workout before I left, and she was extremely helpful with asking what kind of a set I wanted, pool conditions (the water was warm), etc.

So I think some of the onus is on you to chat with the coach before you commit to a team, see how receptive they are to help you, if that is possible during scheduled workouts, or if you need some separate 1 on 1 time. Even when I've visited groups, the coach will usually help me with something. Most of the masters coaches I've met will really get excited when I approach them for advice.

Redbird Alum
February 17th, 2009, 04:13 PM
Your own thoughts:

use books, DVDs
join local team
get some one-on-one help
All very excellent ideas. Also try these:

Have someone videotape the strokes you are currentyly working on and then either compare them to the DVDs yourself, or post them on this site and ask for opinions. Alot of people on here are coaches.
When you join that local club, ask for help, either from their coach, or from the other people in the pool. You may want to arrange to get to practice early, or stay a little late, for some personal attention.
Keep swimming!

February 17th, 2009, 10:35 PM
use books, DVDs
join local team
get some one-on-one help

Well, I think I have a solution for the third item. I have found an instructor at a pool near where I work and have arranged for lessons once a week during my lunch break. The instructor said we will work on my stoke, kick etc. and that he will give me drills, etc. to work on on my own between lessons.

Looking forward to getting started - first lesson is tomorrow!

Thanks for the input.

February 18th, 2009, 05:08 PM
Well, first session went well. We worked on rotation and stroke. I've got a lot of homework to work on before my next lesson next week.

Funny thing, I did not swim nearly as long (time or distance-wise) as I had been, but this lesson wore me out!

February 19th, 2009, 09:08 AM
Me, again.

During my lesson, the instructor had me doing the following drills:
Right arm on kick board, left arm back and resting on buttocks, kick and practice rotating/breathing to left side. Forward arm is against head, behind ear.
Same as #1, but switched arms and rotational side.
Same as #1, but instead of leaving "rear arm" on buttocks, stroked with this arm, rotating to breath every other stroke.
Same as #3, but switched arms and rotational side.
Catch-up drill with kick board, breathing bilaterally every 3rd stroke.
Same as #5, but no kick board.
In each of these drills she had me in red zoomers - they were what was available in my size.

My next lesson is next week (they are once per week). Between lessons, she said to work on these drills.

I am uncertain as to how many of each of these drills I should do per session. Also, how much rest should I allow my self between each 25m drill? Although I am used to swimming 2000m per session 3x per week, these drills leave me far more winded than my prior sessions did. My thought is that it is counter productive at this stage (early stage of lessons) to do these drills tired, but instead I should concentrate on doing them correctly.

So my plan for this morning's swim was to do each drill for 4x25 with 0:15 rest - and do this twice. Total yardage was 1200m. Turned out that I came close, but my rest was inconsistent and ranged from 15 sec to 25 sec.

I bought a pair of blue zoomers to use. But, it seemed that when I rotated, I was having a lot of trouble being high enough to breath without water engulfing my mouth - especially as I tired. The pool had a pair of generic, larger swim fins and I switched to these toward the end of the workout and they seemed to work better. I plan on using them for the entire workour next time (rather than the zoomers).

Does it sound like I am going about this the right way? Any thoughts/insight would be appreciated.


February 19th, 2009, 09:35 AM
Does it sound like I am going about this the right way? Any thoughts/insight would be appreciated.

Swimming consistently is the right way to go about it. You just need to give yourself enough time to build the strength and skill you think you should already have. As long as you stick with it, you will get there and find that you have even higher expectations for yourself :)

February 19th, 2009, 01:20 PM
Good suggestions above. Video taping yourself can be immensely revealing if you can get someone to tape you.

BTW - I suggest you abandon that straight 2000M swim. Not only is it probably monotonous for you - it forces you to swim tired and slower.

February 20th, 2009, 09:59 AM
Today, I did my drills with more full sized fins - I purchased a pair of TYR Flex Fins. They seemed to work better for me than the blue zoomers.

In addition, I had been reading some posts here and some online information elsewhere about bouyancy and swimming downhill. So I really focused on pressing my chest down and pressing my armpit down when I rotated and reached forward. This seemed to help a lot, and when I rotated my head to breath, I was able to get a breath without water flooding into my mouth!:D

Today was easier than yesterday - I was really encouraged!:)

As an aside - the blue zoomers tore up my feet! I have big, nasty blisters accross the top of my foot. When I wore the new fins this morning, I put band-aids on the blisters and covered them and the bridge of my foot with waterpoof athletic/bandage tape. This seemed to help a lot.

Redbird Alum
February 20th, 2009, 11:42 AM
Keep up the work... you are doing great.

One thing you can introduce yourself before your next lesson is the same drills, just without the kickboard.

You will find it is easier to maintain body position and rotate for your breathing, as the kickboard will not be holding up the alternate arm and shoulder during the breath. (Normally, that arm & shoulder would have rotated down during the pull, making it easier to raise the other arm and turn for the breath.)

February 20th, 2009, 12:15 PM

One thing you can introduce yourself before your next lesson is the same drills, just without the kickboard.

Yes, I neglected to mention that today I modified what I did yesterday. I did drills listed above 4x25, then the second time thru I did drills 1 thru 5 4x25 without the board and then did 4x25 without flippers or board.

And it was easier to rotate and hold body position. Also, the 4x25 without flippers or board went better than I had expected also!