View Full Version : Haven't done a swimming workout in 30 years

June 24th, 2009, 09:14 PM
I would like to begin swimming again, but I am a little fearful of trying to begin again. I was a distance swimmer 30 years ago. My swimming career lasted 20 years. Since that time I have gained about 30 pounds, aged 30 years, have a prothesis for a shoulder and can not quite get my left arm out of the water to swim freestyle .... forget ever doing butterfly or backstroke again. I am afraid if I go to the local public pool and try to swim one lap I will never make it. I have no idea how to even begin the process. My four sisters are all swimming again in other parts of the country, but none are dealing with physical limitations so they don't know how to help me. Anyone have any good ideas.

June 25th, 2009, 10:11 AM
To borrow a phrase from Nike, Just do it. You can always come up with some reason(s) not to do something but if you really want to swim again, just go get in the water. Adaptations to your limitations will evolve as you encounter them. Obviously, getting in and back in shape will hurt but you were a swimmer in the past, you can do it. Mental fortitude and toughness will prevail. And, just in case, let the lifeguard know you're getting in and just to keep a special eye on you until your confidence returns. Good Luck.

June 25th, 2009, 10:26 AM
I would ask around the coaching community for someone trained in helping people with orthopedic issues. The shoulder will be a problem, as extensive use of other side could conceivably lead to muscle hypertrophy, thoracic imbalance, and even more issues. IMO.

Can you use a kickboard as you get started? Stay in water depth where you can stand up if necessary, then try moving out farther as you get confidence back. Perhaps coaches who have addressed relevant problems could weigh in here.

What kind of range of motion do you have with the prosthesis?

June 25th, 2009, 04:42 PM
Without any weight, I can lift my arm above my head. With a two pound weight I can lift it in front of me even with my shoulder. I can not rotate the arm around past my head (as in back stroke). From my side I can lift my arm about 6 inches short of being even with my shoulder. May of the tendons and ligaments are not attached to the prothesis because that technology was not available at the time of my accident. Thanks for the response.

June 25th, 2009, 05:25 PM
Can you do a breaststroke pull ?
I think fins are a swell idea.
I like to do breaststroke pull with fins+dolphin kick.
Maybe "combat stroke" is something you can do. It is a morphed up sidestroke with freestyle elements.

You may surprise yourself with what you can do and enjoy. Do try to change things up to avoid muscle imbalances.

June 29th, 2009, 08:49 PM
Good suggestions here... waves101 is spot on.

The way I did it was to pick a time (45min.), and do as much as I could in that time... 5 to 6x/wk. In the beginning it was 300yds, breaststroke only, one length at a time (SCY). I don't know what my stroke count was then... probably something like 30+ (now it is 8+).

You fear is going to hinder you... get over it or move on to something else. Tough love? Maybe... but one thing I know for sure is that you gotta really want it... I mean really want it... if you are going to get past where you are now.

Use anything you need to get your confidence up, including flotation devices, coaches, etc. Be creative about it. But most of all be fearless.

In the fall of 1995 (at the tender age of 37) I could not lift my elbows above my shoulders (condition is Psoriatic Arthritis). I could not do this even floating in water, nor could I lift my arms out of the water.

It took about 9mos. before I figured out I could lift my arm out in back crawl (but still could not straighten arm over head, so entered about 45 off). It took about 1.5yrs before I could consistently swim 25yds front crawl (I'm talking 1x/workout). Butterfly? Yeah, right! Dream on!

Yet in 2000 I did prep drills for a year just so I could try it. I started training Fly in 2001. Now I get compliments on my fly all the time. Somewhere along the way I did a few 200 fly's and 400IM's at USMS sanctioned meets.

Like I said... you gotta really want it.

Was it painful, frustrating, difficult, inconvenient, full of tears, etc.? Hell yes. Was it worth the trouble? You bet.

Now I usually swim 1hr+. I've been off my development this past year, but on a good day I'll do (more-or-less) equal amounts of each of the big 4 competitive strokes, plus a few extras, and do upwards of 2K+yds.

Have Fun!

July 1st, 2009, 06:05 PM
It sounds as if you need more rehab on to weak side. ask for help in doing the proper strokes,. You need to also have fun.

July 2nd, 2009, 04:43 PM
If you want back in the water bad enough, you'll "make a way, find a way". I'm doing just that, after a spinal cord implant. I'm having to "scull", a stroke which may work for you -- forms of it are used in sychronized swimming, but it works for me, and because of my implant, I'm not allowed any repetitive or rapid movements at or above my shoulders and head. So, the 4 strokes are out. Sculling is my answer...and I'm finding that I can adapt the sculling motions as I go, to what I *am* able to do. Many years ago, my Mom used a similar sculling stroke with a disabled right arm/shoulder, so that's where I first saw it -- and never thought I'd have reason to use it. Now, I have good workouts, and enjoy my water time, and build those workouts gradually so that I don't take any injuries. If you're interested in trying "sculling", you can find various videos of it, in slow motion, on Youtube, and that should suffice to give you some good ideas. All the best luck!!! :)