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geminidragonizer
September 11th, 2009, 11:30 PM
I've been swimming now for about 4 months after taking nearly 20 years' hiatus. Needless to say, I'm not really not trying for any speed records but I'm frustrated that I'm not getting any faster. Ironically enough, I'm usually the fastest swimmer in the pool, even compared to other 20 somethings. Then again, there really isn't much competition at my 24hr fitness.

I've been told by others that my form looks pretty good. I can swim 25m in about 15 easy strokes. But I can't seem to get my arms to move any faster in the water. If I try to increase my arm speed, I end up compromising my extension, using more energy and going about the same overall speed.

Since I've been focused on distance, I've been using a 2-beat kick. I'd like to employ a 6-beat kick, but somehow can't get the timing down. When I try for a 6-beat, I usually end up fluttering around like a wounded minnow.
I swim about 5 times a week, mixing up distance, speed drills and kick drills. I'm 33 years old, decent cardio, height 5'7".

So I'm open for opinions. Should I focus on increasing arm speed? Work on a 6-beat kick? Increase strength? All of the above?


Thanks

ande
September 12th, 2009, 05:25 PM
anything you do and measure improves

so measure your speed and train to improve it.

read and apply ideas from:

Help My Speed is Horrible!

Swim Faster Faster

mattson
September 12th, 2009, 06:18 PM
I've been swimming now for about 4 months after taking nearly 20 years' hiatus.

Give it some more time. With only a 7 year hiatus, it took me more than a year before my swim endurance really came back.

Ricki
September 12th, 2009, 06:40 PM
Give it some more time. With only a 7 year hiatus, it took me more than a year before my swim endurance really came back.

I hear you on that one...

spell_me
September 12th, 2009, 07:49 PM
anything you do and measure improves

so measure your speed and train to improve it.



I was in your shoes. These very words of Ande's helped me enormously. It's not that I never ever measured myself at all, but the timeclock at my 24 hr fitness was poorly placed, only visable to me from one lane, and at the "wrong" end of it, too. It was hard to do interval training, let alone clock myself. Anyhow, I got myself a swimming wrist watch, and I started timing all KINDS of things, almost everything. Splits during sets, especially the sets that I come back to regularly. Kicking. I started logging my times in my workout journal. When you watch the clock, your times go DOWN.

Also, do you use a pullbouy? I find that doing a pull set a couple times per week really helps my arms. Not every time--you need to give the arms time to recover.

If you only started 4 months ago, I bet you've come a lot further than you realize.

geminidragonizer
September 15th, 2009, 03:05 AM
Thanks for all of the feedback.


Ande- I'll attempt your challenge. However, the times that people post will make me think twice about posting my times. When I say I'm slow, that's no exaggeration.





Also, do you use a pullbouy? I find that doing a pull set a couple times per week really helps my arms. Not every time--you need to give the arms time to recover.



spell_me - I used to swim a lot with the pull buoy because it made me swim faster (and felt much easier overall). But when I swam without the buoy, I had to use my legs and core muscles a lot more. So I felt like I was cheating myself and eventually put it away for good. I think it was for the best. Plus, for some reason the buoy also caused a lot of lower back pain. Perhaps it made me arch my back too much or caused me to be in an uncomfortable position.

Should go back to the buoy to increase my pull strength? I'd like to avoid it, but I'll use it again if you guys think it's an indispensable tool.

notsofast
September 15th, 2009, 07:54 AM
Oh, boy, here comes the pull buoy debate . . .

My :2cents:: Don't try to go to fast too quickly. A number of people here, myself included, have hurt their shoulders by trying to ramp up the speed too soon. Be sure to incorporate 'prehab' exercises now, so you don't have to do rehab exercises later.

letsrace
September 15th, 2009, 08:09 AM
Thanks for all of the feedback.
spell_me - I used to swim a lot with the pull buoy because it made me swim faster (and felt much easier overall).

This is not unusual. I have known many swimmers who are faster with a pull buoy. More importantly, though, I think this statement may help us diagnose part of your problem.

A couple of ideas... If you think about your body as an axle, and we can agree that your body should rotate while swimming freestyle, then you want to examine that axle to make sure that it isn't out of alignment in any way.

This can happen when we don't keep our body rigid. If spectators on the deck might comment that you wiggle when you swim, then this might be the culprit. This can also happen at the kick, where the feet are splaying too far apart while kicking. The result of your legs splaying too much would cause the more subtle problem of slowing your rotation.

The pull buoy could reduce both of these problems. But it is unlikely to fix your problem. What you need to do is to learn to swim with a kick more like you swim with a pull buoy. Meaning, try to figure out why your stroke works better with a buoy than with your kick. Likely, you will discover that your hips are in better alignment with the buoy or your feet create less rotational drag with the buoy.

I would try some 50s, one with a buoy, one without. Turn your mind to your body rotation and compare your "pulling self" with your "swimming self".

Ande must have a tip about kicking and rotation, but I can't find it. Perhaps the Ande Search Engine (TM) would be kind enough to reference the tip if he has it. ;)

ande
September 15th, 2009, 12:46 PM
Hi Mike,

I've written about kicking faster and integrating a powerful faster kick while swimming. When swimmers swim freestyle correctly, their body rotates from side to side. The swimmers core should be firm, legs follow the hips.

as the right hand finishes by the right hip,
the left hip is down.

as the left hand finishes by the left hip,
the right hip is down.

Well conditioned swimmers keep up a steady powerful kick over the entire race. They also learn how to pace their kick for the 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 & 1,650.
The shorter the race the more intense the kick.
The more intense the kick the more fatigue.

This Michael Phelps video shows how swims freestyle,
observe his kick & rotation.
YouTube - Michael Phelps freestyle multi angle camera



This is not unusual. I have known many swimmers who are faster with a pull buoy. More importantly, though, I think this statement may help us diagnose part of your problem.

A couple of ideas... If you think about your body as an axle, and we can agree that your body should rotate while swimming freestyle, then you want to examine that axle to make sure that it isn't out of alignment in any way.

This can happen when we don't keep our body rigid. If spectators on the deck might comment that you wiggle when you swim, then this might be the culprit. This can also happen at the kick, where the feet are splaying too far apart while kicking. The result of your legs splaying too much would cause the more subtle problem of slowing your rotation.

The pull buoy could reduce both of these problems. But it is unlikely to fix your problem. What you need to do is to learn to swim with a kick more like you swim with a pull buoy. Meaning, try to figure out why your stroke works better with a buoy than with your kick. Likely, you will discover that your hips are in better alignment with the buoy or your feet create less rotational drag with the buoy.

I would try some 50s, one with a buoy, one without. Turn your mind to your body rotation and compare your "pulling self" with your "swimming self".

Ande must have a tip about kicking and rotation, but I can't find it. Perhaps the Ande Search Engine (TM) would be kind enough to reference the tip if he has it. ;)

__steve__
September 15th, 2009, 01:00 PM
Very informative video. One thing I noticed as well as with other top swimmers (Popov) is that one arm performs mild catch-up with the other, yet the other arm does the opposite, more rotary. This is done with perfect time to the kick. Does it appear like this or actually happening?

Also, should I time my stroke to my kick?

letsrace
September 15th, 2009, 01:52 PM
I knew Ande would come through.

That video of Phelps is great. That video had a very profound effect on my turns. But that is off topic. When I was looking again at that video, I found YouTube - TI Freestyle Before and After from Shinji Takeuchi. It has great underwater shots showing before and after Total Immersion.

Watch the legs in the pre-TI clips versus the legs in the post-TI clips. More beats, but more drag, too.

Brian Stack
September 15th, 2009, 02:13 PM
I knew Ande would come through.

That video of Phelps is great. That video had a very profound effect on my turns. But that is off topic. When I was looking again at that video, I found YouTube - TI Freestyle Before and After (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FrSTJLN_CY&feature=related) from Shinji Takeuchi. It has great underwater shots showing before and after Total Immersion.

Watch the legs in the pre-TI clips versus the legs in the post-TI clips. More beats, but more drag, too.
I suggest a look at the head position in the before and after shots. In the before shots the swimmers head is up and he is looking forward, in the after shots he is looking at the bottom of the pool. With the head up the swimmer is sinking his hips and forcing a harder kick to stay balanced. In the after shots with the head on the spine line, the hips are also in line at the surface, and the kick is propulsive.
In my experience, adjusting the head position can be a very quick fix for the pull buoy addicted. Posture while swimming is too often neglected for a focus on power and speed. Posture, balance, and power should work together to make a fast and efficient swimmer.

ande
September 15th, 2009, 02:39 PM
Thanks Mike,

I didn't know that, here's the SFF tip that describes what Phelps does, plus why.

Tip 238 The Suit Surge

I bet a slightly deeper further SDK helped you swim faster faster in several events during your 2009 short course season.

It pays to work on your SDK even if you're already really good at it.

UT's Hill Taylor (http://www.floswimming.org/videos/speaker/1975-hill%20-taylor) gave us a glimpse at what's possible.
Shame there's a 15 meter rule.

Swim Faster Faster,

Ande



I knew Ande would come through.
That video of Phelps is great. That video had a very profound effect on my turns.

geminidragonizer
September 15th, 2009, 07:44 PM
In my experience, adjusting the head position can be a very quick fix for the pull buoy addicted. Posture while swimming is too often neglected for a focus on power and speed. Posture, balance, and power should work together to make a fast and efficient swimmer.

That's an awesome tip. By the end of a long workout, my lower half always starts to drag. I discovered that a quick fix is just to reposition my head lower in the water, raising my hips and legs into a more streamline position. Now when I find myself struggling in the water, I always go through a mental checklist that includes, inter alia, whether my head is in a good spinal and low position.

The only thing I hate is that I end up sucking up more water (especially from the other guy in my lane splashing up a storm). That's probably a different discussion altogether.

letsrace
September 15th, 2009, 08:03 PM
The only thing I hate is that I end up sucking up more water (especially from the other guy in my lane splashing up a storm). That's probably a different discussion altogether.

I don't think it is a different discussion. It is all part of the puzzle. I am glad that Brian brought up the head position point. Since you are sucking in water you probably need to play with "pressing the T (http://www.breaststroke.info/presbuoy.htm)" as Terry Laughlin from Total Immersion would say.

If you play around with pushing the chest rather than just pressing the head forward, you may find that your head can get into a better position for breathing.

BTW, I learned to "press the T" from Bill Boomer in 1995. When he first showed it to me, I thought, "this can't work". I changed my tune when I dropped several strokes in a 50 LCM freestyle. It is about the most significant thing that I have learned in swimming.

__steve__
September 15th, 2009, 08:58 PM
At what point should we "press the T", or lean forward the chest and head, or should the position be held continuosly throughout? Also, is this position employed during all out sprints?

Thank you

ande
September 15th, 2009, 09:03 PM
Before:
the guy had crazy legs and a lot of unnecessary movements

After:
is much more efficient and relaxed, more gliding
he puts a pause on the front end of each arm stroke,
he uses a quick flick kick or the pop pause,



on the TI Freestyle Before and After

Brian Stack
September 15th, 2009, 09:55 PM
At what point should we "press the T", or lean forward the chest and head, or should the position be held continuosly throughout? Also, is this position employed during all out sprints?

Thank you
The feeling of pressing should be continuous through the stroke cycle. I tell swimmers to put the pressure on the top of the lungs as you roll through the stroke. Some like to visualize the pressure moving from chest to the down armpit, back to the chest and on to the other armpit.
Staying aware of this concept will help it become a habit. Swimmers who are adept at actively streamlining while swimming make it look easy, the rest of us have to think about it until it's natural.
Sprinting is a different game, with several routes to success. It's mostly about motors, and less about vessel shaping. As the distance increases the shape of your boat matters more. Still important to be as efficient as possible, but when one swims faster the water causes your body alignment to adapt to it.
Mike Bottom has some interesting takes on what's important for sprinting, he posits three distinct stroke styles. he's got a DVD out through the race Club I think.

Brian Stack
September 15th, 2009, 10:08 PM
I don't think it is a different discussion. It is all part of the puzzle. I am glad that Brian brought up the head position point. Since you are sucking in water you probably need to play with "pressing the T (http://www.breaststroke.info/presbuoy.htm)" as Terry Laughlin from Total Immersion would say.

If you play around with pushing the chest rather than just pressing the head forward, you may find that your head can get into a better position for breathing.

BTW, I learned to "press the T" from Bill Boomer in 1995. When he first showed it to me, I thought, "this can't work". I changed my tune when I dropped several strokes in a 50 LCM freestyle. It is about the most significant thing that I have learned in swimming.

Good point about the chest pressure as opposed to just the head. It's amazing how deep you can push your head and still not get the desired effect! The chest and face should be thought of as a unit, folks should use the chest pressure and looking down to create balance. That's enough pressure for the head to get where it needs to go.
I took two camps from Boomer at Stanford in '98 and '99, it was like attending Swimming U. During lunch breaks we'd sit with Coaches Boomer, Quick and Kenny and fire questions as fast as they could answer.Learned a lot through those camp discussions not to mention what we did in the water.
Boomer has worked with most of the major programs in the US not to mention countless age group teams, Coaches Clinics, and the US Olympic Team. Once you're exposed to Bill you'll never think about swimming the same way again.
Check out some of the Boomer interviews on the Morning Swim Show site, and at Floswimming.

letsrace
September 16th, 2009, 09:33 AM
At what point should we "press the T", or lean forward the chest and head, or should the position be held continuosly throughout? Also, is this position employed during all out sprints?

Thank you

This is a great question. It is not a static thing where you press with your chest the whole time, because you are rotating as you stroke. When you recognize that it is dynamic, you realize that you must press the chin and chest when your face is pointed at the botton, then press the cheek and armpit as you breath, etc. The pressure line (chest to chin, armpit to cheek...) moves as the body rotates, but it is always a press down.

geminidragonizer
September 16th, 2009, 11:47 AM
I went to the pool with all of the great technical advice in my head, concentrated on Pressing the Buoy, head positioning, bilateral breathing, efficient kicking, rotating on on axis, etc.. Now my freestyle feels absolutely terrible! :confused: The lesson here is that I have to take it one step at a time.

Great advice, guys and gals. Keep em coming!

__steve__
September 16th, 2009, 12:37 PM
I went to the pool with all of the great technical advice in my head, concentrated on Pressing the Buoy, head positioning, bilateral breathing, efficient kicking, rotating on on axis, etc.. Now my freestyle feels absolutely terrible! :confused: The lesson here is that I have to take it one step at a time.

Great advice, guys and gals. Keep em coming!Did you watch the before/after clip over and over first? I did and it somewhat gave me a standard to remember while swimming. While watching I concentrated on what coach Stack and letsrace described, as well as the "T" article. It will take some practice and disipline at first but it felt productive, but my neck is sore so I probably focused on my head too much. Nevertheless, I will be attending my first practice with a team Saturday morning:coffee:, if the coach has time I really look forward to seeing what suggestions I can work on.

geminidragonizer
September 16th, 2009, 04:08 PM
Steve - Yeah, I've seen that video about a dozen times prior. I've also watched tons of Phelps videos and try to visualize myself swimming like them. Although I don't think my form is terrible, it definitely can use a boost. Those guys make it look easy, don't they?

You mentioned about your neck being sore. Funny thing is my neck is also uncharacteristically sore from yesterday's workout, probably from focusing too much on the head.