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View Full Version : What did you struggle with when you started swimming?



frankiej
May 19th, 2009, 08:24 PM
Basically, what did you struggle with when you started swimming and how old were you? I kind of want to see if others have had the same troubles as I.

I just started swimming recreational this year. I am 20 and started due to my knees starting to bother me more by running, which I usually do.

There are a few things I can't seem to get the hang of:
1.) I can't last very long in freestyle. I can only do 75 at most before I have to stop. I think this is due to my breathing pattern.
2.) My kick is pretty weak, when I use a kick board I don't go fast at all. Due to being a runner before I guess this is a common problem.
3.) I'm trying to get the hang of flip turns but my push off is the problem. I'm trying to push off with my head faced up but I always seem to suck in some water for some reason and have to re-surface fast for air.
4.) I'm also having a hard time with the fast dolphin kick that most people use when coming out of a flip turn.

I was just looking for ways/drills to improve in these areas. I just want to be able to swim at length instead of stopping constantly.
Feel free to share. Also, any help would be greatly appreciated:afraid:

ddl
May 19th, 2009, 11:15 PM
Struggled with drowning :D

pwb
May 20th, 2009, 01:51 AM
I was 5 or 6 and I struggled with cold water ... so I quit.

I came back the next year, maybe a little fatter.:)

Maui Mike
May 20th, 2009, 02:08 AM
My Mom used to teach kids, including babies, how to swim. I could swim before I could walk. And tomorrow she ages up to the 90-95 age group.

notsofast
May 20th, 2009, 06:27 AM
I struggled with everything. It is a whole-body exercise, so until you get a lot of different things mastered (balance, kicking, breathing, etc.), it is difficult.
Toughest for me was breathing. It is hard to do an exercise when you have to more or less plan when you are going to breathe. As a result, it's hard to relax while breathing, which makes the workout seem that much harder.
As far as flip turns, this web site has a sequence of five video drills that does a good job of teaching them.
http://www.goswim.tv/entries/4354/turns-freestyle-flip-turn-step-1.html
By which I mean it worked for me.

srcoyote
May 20th, 2009, 06:55 AM
When I see newer swimmers, I think the biggest concept to get is streamline. When torsos bend and kicks go to deep, too much effort is used. This was probably true when I started, I just don't remember.

BTW, I wouldn't worry about the dolphins of the wall if you are only swimming 75 at a time at the moment. I swim 5K at a time and can't do them very well despite being a flyer in my younger days.

Also, you don't have to push off the wall on your back following flip turns. It's just a place to start as you learn. Everyone's turns are unique including as to what angle they push off. By the time I push off, I'm on my side.

dorothyrde
May 20th, 2009, 07:59 AM
I started at age 39, and struggled with everything but kicking. For some reason, kicking is a natural with me. Must be all my cycling.

Breathing was not too bad. Endurance was hard, until I slowed down and let my body adapt the first 200 yards, and then I was able to swim distance. Flip turns took me two years to learn, and they still are not the best. Breast stroke timing slayed me, and I hated swimming on my back for a long time.

SwimStud
May 20th, 2009, 08:15 AM
Noodlers!

qbrain
May 20th, 2009, 09:55 AM
1.) I can't last very long in freestyle. I can only do 75 at most before I have to stop. I think this is due to my breathing pattern.
2.) My kick is pretty weak, when I use a kick board I don't go fast at all. Due to being a runner before I guess this is a common problem.
3.) I'm trying to get the hang of flip turns but my push off is the problem. I'm trying to push off with my head faced up but I always seem to suck in some water for some reason and have to re-surface fast for air.
4.) I'm also having a hard time with the fast dolphin kick that most people use when coming out of a flip turn.

The first time I swam a practice, I hopped in with the HS swim team post season. First, I thought that the pool was 100 yards long, so I couldn't figure out why I was the only one stopping. So you are ahead of me.

1) You just need to build up some endurance. I think in a few weeks you should be able to swim most distances without too much trouble. There is nothing wrong with breathing every other stroke.

2) Kicking slow is a common problem. I kick at a medium pace, after much effort to improve. Ankle flexibility is usually a problem with runners, and running does not translate to kicking at all. You just have to work on your kick a lot. This is something that will not change quick, so put fast kick on your long term goals list.

3) Practice! Sounds like you are on the right track, just exhale slowly through the turn. As a runner, you should have the lung capacity needed (at least SOMETHING translates). Maybe your are not taking a deep enough breath going into the turn. Your breathing should be even on each breath, but maybe you need to suck a little extra air going into turns until you get the hang of it.

4) LOL. Most people? Come swim with my team for a while. Sounds like you ended up on a good fast team, that use the latest trends in swimming. Your dolphin kick will need just as much work as your flutter kick that you were complaining about being slow earlier. If you can get one or two dolphin kicks off each wall, you are doing great. If you are not doing any, that is no big deal. There are a lot of fast swimmers (Masters) who are just not looking into adding dolphin kick off the walls to their freestyle.

Since you are new to swimming, more frequent shorter practices will help you get up to speed faster than fewer longer practices. When you are just starting out, you get to a point after swimming so far where your stroke just falls apart. Get out if you have gotten a decent workout in, or start taking more rest. The worst thing you can do is swim yardage with a horrible stroke because you are too tired to hold it together.

Knightswimmer2
May 20th, 2009, 10:44 AM
I struggled with it when I started out, and I really struggle with it now...motivation. when my alarm goes off at 5am...I do everything in my power to stay in bed :bed:

and pullouts. You would think after 8 years of breaststroke I could learn a decent pullout, but mine are horrible!

frankiej
May 20th, 2009, 11:18 AM
As far as flip turns, this web site has a sequence of five video drills that does a good job of teaching them.
http://www.goswim.tv/entries/4354/turns-freestyle-flip-turn-step-1.html
By which I mean it worked for me.

Thanks a lot of that! I usually use my hands a little to make it easier to turn. I'll have to try it without using my hands next time.



1) You just need to build up some endurance. I think in a few weeks you should be able to swim most distances without too much trouble. There is nothing wrong with breathing every other stroke.

2) Kicking slow is a common problem. I kick at a medium pace, after much effort to improve. Ankle flexibility is usually a problem with runners, and running does not translate to kicking at all. You just have to work on your kick a lot. This is something that will not change quick, so put fast kick on your long term goals list.

3) Practice! Sounds like you are on the right track, just exhale slowly through the turn. As a runner, you should have the lung capacity needed (at least SOMETHING translates). Maybe your are not taking a deep enough breath going into the turn. Your breathing should be even on each breath, but maybe you need to suck a little extra air going into turns until you get the hang of it.

4) LOL. Most people? Come swim with my team for a while. Sounds like you ended up on a good fast team, that use the latest trends in swimming. Your dolphin kick will need just as much work as your flutter kick that you were complaining about being slow earlier.


Thanks a lot for the advice! I've been trying to work on my kick for quite sometime. I looked up some drills that seem to work for most people, like the Vertical kick drill. I've also tried to use the kick board but I haven't seen much improvement from it. I heard flippers also help with ankle flexibility and strengthening the muscles used when kicking, is that correct?

As for the dolphin kicks out of the flip turn, I watched my college swim team a couple times through the season and most of the summers used it. Also, some of my friends that were swimmers in highschool do the same when coming out of flip turns so I figured it was a good practice.



BTW, I wouldn't worry about the dolphins of the wall if you are only swimming 75 at a time at the moment.


True. I don't worry about it to much, its just something I usually practice at the end of my workout to get an idea of what I need to work on.

qbrain
May 20th, 2009, 01:41 PM
I heard flippers also help with ankle flexibility and strengthening the muscles used when kicking, is that correct?

As for the dolphin kicks out of the flip turn, I watched my college swim team a couple times through the season and most of the summers used it. Also, some of my friends that were swimmers in highschool do the same when coming out of flip turns so I figured it was a good practice.

There is a thread "HELP! My kick is horrible." that outlines how to make your kick better. I did a variant of that until my kick was strong enough that I could do kick sets and keep up without fins. I never got much benefit from fins, and only use them now when I am short on time. Other people have gotten a lot of benefit from fins.

Dolphin kick off the wall is good to have, but it can wait until later in the grand scheme of things. Worry about your flip turn and endurance before you start adding dolphin kick off the wall. It is a real energy consumer, so it may slow down your overall progress.

Couroboros
May 20th, 2009, 01:50 PM
Considering I am still starting swimming (at least, in my view), I have a number of things I am struggling with, to different degrees, but one really big struggle that I'll mention exclusively is my breaststroke kick.

It's horrible. When I breast kick with the kickboard, I literally brake every kick. I've been told... "one continuous motion, not two", "knees facing the bottom of the pool", "out with your feet", etc.... and it's the latter two things I find exceptionally difficult to do at the same time, knees facing downwards and feet somehow pointing outwards.

Breaststroke is the only stroke that makes me feel like a marionette, and I consciously have to "puppeteer" myself for every single pull and kick.

Typhoons Coach
May 20th, 2009, 04:32 PM
Breathing...as a football player I wasn't used to controlling my breathing that much. It later paid off and I chose the swimming world instead of the football world (obviously).

waves101
May 21st, 2009, 08:36 AM
The biggest struggle for me is the motivation to continue when life gets in the way. The actual swimming struggles are small in comparison to getting to the pool when I could sleep in, be with my family, do anything other than swim, etc. (for me anyway). After 10 years of masters swimming, I've found everything else will work its way out if you can just get to the pool. My suggestion is find a swimming friend to do workouts with and then you'll feel guilty when you stand them up.

spell_me
May 21st, 2009, 08:58 AM
I started swimming again (I did swim as a kid, too) at 41. At first, I struggled with being able to swim more than one lap at a time. I had to rest at every end of the pool. Even though I was in decent physical shape from exercising on dry land basically all my adult life, and even though I had a good, efficient stroke. Bit by bit I was able to do more laps at a time--having to stop every 50, then every 75, and so on--and I think that's what got me hooked--being able to see myself steadily getting stronger.

lungbuster
May 24th, 2009, 01:03 AM
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lungbuster
May 24th, 2009, 01:14 AM
When I started 7 years ago after learning the basics of freestyle I wanted to test my swimming aptitude. So I would periodically do a T-15 test. This was very frustrating because 1) I couldn't swim for much longer than 5 minutes and 2) if I did I would get a terrible headache.
A few years later I joined a masters team and now I have no problem swimming longer distances. No more headaches from swimming. I was either not breathing correctly or I was just in terrible physical shape.

2fish&1whale
May 25th, 2009, 11:13 AM
Initialy it was endurance, I just had a hard time making it through 20 laps before I called it a day. But it was a huge motivator and that kept me coming back to the pool. Once I hit what I consider my goal yardage I kinda lost the drive. I have no desire to spend more time in the pool than I already do and I try to vary up what I swim just to keep from beig bored.
Lately I miss having that initial drive, because I find myself skipping swimming more frequently.

CreamPuff
May 25th, 2009, 02:52 PM
1. When I started Masters (age 30) I really struggled with racing 200s without dying.
and

2. Kicking is really a weak point for me - since I started swimming- but it became VERY obvious when I started swimming USS as an adult and when I saw myself on video (1st time ever might I add) swimming 200 FR.

I think #1 and #2 go hand in hand.

While swimming USS for the past year with the kids I always got in the distance lane (just comes easier for me - I coast and make intervals) and I was always relieved when we did very little kick work. Started doing some speed work recently so that got me thinking about my kick - b/c it was not there. Coach has me do a 6 beat kick even during warm up to break my habit of NO kicking. First few weeks were painful - and that's putting it nicely. I thought I was going to DIE. Fortunately, I didn't. Then the real work begins.
I also recommend starting out working on your kick SCY b/c I don't think I could have wrapped my head around adding a kick starting out with LCM. I'm sure some people could do it. . . but not me.

Now I swim Mid Distance (instead of distance - ah those lovely days of pulling) and Chris Davis SR LOVES kick and swim/ kick sets which I feel are the most challenging sets out there (for me). My heart rate really gets up there pretty quick and it stays up there. In switching from Distance to Mid D/ more speed work, I feel like I'm in a different sport. I have a long ways to go, but I already see a nice difference when I throw in a kick during free speed work. You really get on top of the water. Plus, it helps to train with fantastic kicker/ swimmers (National team members if you can hack it). You feel forced to bust it out so to speak so as to save face.

I'd also like to add that I would get "tweaky" shoulders when I swam the 1.5 hour masters workouts. (We did a LOT of pulling with paddles - daily I believe). Now, with the 1900 meter or so warm ups with USS I have not had tweaky shoulders for the entire time I've been swimming with them. I attribute this to a longer warm up, less paddle (ab)use and the fact that we build into our workouts (unless it's a pure speed day in which case I don't use paddles.)

I'm also not suggesting that you run out and join a USS team as who in their right mind wants to do that?! What I am saying is that it's been very helpful to surround myself with swimmers who really excel in areas that I struggle with. It's also been helpful to do sets and work the sets that really nail your weak areas. And, the only reason I swim USS is really b/c the coaches are 100% accommodating to my needs as a masters swimmer. I'm really fortunate to have such latitude. I think that for the summer season I calculated that I will be swimming about 50% what the national kids train!

orca1946
May 26th, 2009, 11:33 AM
Waves in Lake Michigan!1 I had a tough time with stroke & fighting the waves all the time @ age 6- 7

dwlovell
May 26th, 2009, 02:53 PM
FYI, your knees are hurting while running because you are wearing shoes:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1170253/The-painful-truth-trainers-Are-expensive-running-shoes-waste-money.html

If you want "shoes" that allow you to run, but suit the natural stride of running barefoot:

http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/barefooting/barefoot_running.cfm

All that being said, swimming is my preferred exercise, running is just what I do when I cannot get to the pool.

~Wren~
May 27th, 2009, 09:29 AM
I started in 7th grade and HATED putting my face in the water. My coach's solution was to flip me over and make me a backstroker. I did get used to putting my face in the water and started racing other strokes, but remained our team's top seeded backstroker until graduation.

Now, my biggest challenges are getting to the pool, and keeping motivated once I'm there. :blush: