View Full Version : people who learn the strokes as adults

September 29th, 2003, 02:33 AM
I learn the four strokes as a kid. But what is it like for you that learned it as adults. I was amazed that some adults are like age groupers better at some strokes than others.

September 29th, 2003, 08:08 AM
Is this post a double secret plot to get Ion to post? Are you trying to stir something up?

Tom Ellison
September 29th, 2003, 09:44 AM
And heresssssssssssss Johnnyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

September 29th, 2003, 10:21 AM
What's it like?

When I was in high school, we had swimming class as part of phys ed. There might have been 10 sessions in the pool per year. The classes were pretty disorderly, as the gym teacher could only enunciate a few general principles while trying to serve many skill levels. When I was a freshman, under the tutelage of a patient and long-suffering classmate, I went from "Beginner" to "Advanced Beginner" -- and that is where I remained until I graduated. I otherwise spent most of my obligatory pool time shivering in the corner, trying not to look like I was checking out the girls in their swim suits. For the next 23 years, I did not swim a single stroke. (Exception - one winter I rescued a dog that fell into the swimming pool at the apartment. Lucky I didn't drown, which wouldn't have impressed the chicks.)

When I started swimming last year, while recuperating from serious running injuries, I couldn't do any of the four competitive strokes. I did elementary backstroke, sidestroke (both sides!), and something almost, but not quite, completely unlike a front crawl. My physical therapist's assistant, who is an accomplished swimmer, pointed me toward breaststroke, which is now probably my technically best stroke (6 or 7 strokes per length, but don't ask me how fast). I cannot do the windmill backstroke because of past shoulder injuries (from using crutches!) -- there are painful clicks and pops as my arm goes overhead. Same reason I do not attempt the butterfly. (Plus it looks terrifying.) She also suggested some variations of sidestroke that would make it interesting and help with my crawl. The only time I look at a pace clock is when I am taking my pulse. I have overcome my morbid, stomach-churning fear of the deep end, but not of diving in head first.

My objectives are (1) not to disturb the lifeguard, (2) add no further entries to my long list of injuries, (3) lose 30 pounds (actually, only 5 more to go), (4) enjoy the other healthful benefits of swimming for exercise so that (5) I can for many more years enjoy other things in life, such as raising my kids, eating pizza, swinging a golf club.

September 29th, 2003, 10:48 AM
It's interesting to note that the diabolical threads are often innocently started by the happy face, and then,... well you know what happens.

Rarely have I ever seen butterflyers emerge from a cocoon that dates past the age of eighteen.

The breaststroke is also rather technical and involves very specific timing to do it fast, or should I say efficiently.

But who knows, anything is possible if you puy your mind to it.


September 29th, 2003, 11:37 AM
Well,there's a great butterflyer in our state in the 60-64 year old age group that didn't start competing until her early 50's. I don't know how old she was when she learn buterfly.

jean sterling
September 29th, 2003, 12:20 PM
Originally posted by Backman
Rarely have I ever seen butterflyers emerge from a cocoon that dates past the age of eighteen.


Fly was done with a frog kick until I was almost out of my teens. I never really mastered fly with the frog kick, which seemed to me to be a most awkward stroke. However, in my 40s I taught myself to swim a fly of sorts with the dolphin kick. To get the feel of keeping my feet going up and down together I would tie a rubber tube around my ankles. This was good enough to suffice for a 50 in the 200 IM, but no more.

For the past five years ago or so I have had some coaching, and my fly has improved immensely. I have the undulation and the timing down now to the point where I can do a 200 meter fly in competition and not fall apart. In fact, last summer at age 66 I did a personal best in the 200 meter fly - improving a time I did three years ago by five seconds.

So, old dogs can still learn new tricks!

September 29th, 2003, 07:46 PM
One really nice thing about learning strokes as an adult ( 55 in my case) is that you don't have to unlearn bad habits.

September 29th, 2003, 09:07 PM
Well, I learned to swim as an adult. When I started taking lessons, my teacher had me try both the crawl and a modified breast stroke (breast stroke arm pull, with a flutter kick.) After watching my first pitiful attempts, he said that the breast stroke was the most likely stroke to work for me. (I later heard that at one timethe Red Cross said the breast stroke and the side stroke were often the easiest for adults to learn.) So, I concentrated on that. Even so, it was hard to learn--I spent many hours practicing. (I can remember one day when I was the only person in the pool. I felt sorry for the lifeguard, who had to sit and watch my pitiful attempts for forty-five minutes.) However, part of the problem wasn't just the mechanics--it was the fact that I was also having to overcome a healthy terror of water. It finally did start working, and less than six months later I was able to swim non-stop for half a mile with a reasonably correct breast stroke.

With that taken care of, I started working on the crawl. By that time, I was playing a bit with diving, and I'd use my crawl to get me from the diving board to the wall. (Safety nuts are shuddering--although I knew if something went wrong, my breast stroke would save me.)

For a long time, I'd say that my breast stroke was better. But, I liked it better than the crawl--the only reason I really cared about the crawl was that many pools technically require 25 yards of non-stop crawl before you can dive. Adults don't get tested, but I felt that in the spirit of being a good swimmer citizen, I should have that distance. Even if my breast stroke was faster and lasted longer.

More recently, I've used the crawl more. It has been a challenge trying to make it work--I've been told it doesn't look too bad, but I can tell that there are problems. I'm not as good with my breast stroke as I once was (I was away from swimming for a while, and I haven't used my breast stroke as much now that I've come back.) But, I do think my breast stroke might potentially, be my "best stroke."

I can do a pitiful racing back stroke, and a limited inverted breast stroke. I could do both better, except I don't like the back stroke--I get bored looking at the ceiling. I like the bottom of the pool, because the light patterns are so pretty. I can also do the side stroke--again, not well. At one time, I used it a lot, since I could swim laps and watch the good divers practice. I can't do the butterfly, although I think I might be able to learn it if I worked at it.

September 30th, 2003, 12:18 AM
In reality both the breast and the fly are the hardest for most swimmers to learn. The breast because of the kick. And the fly because of the timing. Most age group coaches will tell you that there are dozens of freestylers in the US compared to those that compete in either breast and fly. The red cross is talking about doing breast by keeping your head above water. But the leg action makes it more difficult for most swimmers to learn than either free or back. In fact, the US unlike European countries starts with free which is easier to learn with the exception of side breathing.

September 30th, 2003, 12:54 PM
Hey Cynthia,

The red cross talks about an alternative relaxing breastroke, where your face is kept out of the water (especially helpful when you have an adult learner who is not comfortable with water in the face). But when we teach breastroke (to adults or children) we try to instill the proper mechanics where the face is put into the water (whether the head goes under completely is another issue) during the stroke.
I'll put myself out on a limb here, when I coached High School and taught swim lessons down in So Cal, it seemed that our beginner swimmers that were of Asian/Pacific Island heritage picked up the breastroke real easy and had a harder time of learning front and back crawl (freestyle & backstroke).


Kevin in MD
September 30th, 2003, 03:31 PM
I could swim - had swim lessons as a kid and went to the neighborhood pool every day to goof around, check out girls and get in trouble.

But three years ago I needed to learn how to swim well. I told a friend I would do the chesapeake Bay swim. I'm an engineer, a thinking guy so I looked for some books on swim technique.

I found the total Immersion book and then got swimming made easy and they were exactly what I needed. As an adult and an engineer the idea of flotation and bouyancy, keeping a horizontal line and not pushing down on the water all made perfect sense to me.

I took to the teaching in the books and videos like a duck to water so to speak. I am honestly a good freestyler. I sometimes think I am becoming a good breastroker or flyer - but a workout with the 4 stroke masters club usually reminds me I have a long way to go.

I think you've hit upon an issue that causes lots of conctrenation. First of all, folks who have been swimming for a while can't really relate to the level of instruction new swimmers need. So new swimmers will tend to really like the Total Immersion stuff - folks who've been at it a while probably don't. On the other hand when it comes to instruction and workout style; people who learned as adults and people who'v ebeen swimming for long time probably have very different preferences due to their backgrounds.

September 30th, 2003, 07:12 PM
Jeff, on another post breaststrokers are weak backstrokers, it was discussed that shorter people tend to do better with breaststroke. The top male breastroker is from Japan. And most American swimmers are of European descent. Europeans tend to be taller. Granted, European countries have a tradition of learning breaststroke first but in the US Free is usually learned first. Also, the only person of Mexican descent to win gold a medal at the 1968 olympics was in the 200 meter breaststroker. That was the only gold medal that Mexico won in swimming. And Mexicans are as we know are descented both from an asian people that came centuries ago from Asia to North America and Spainards-Europeans.

October 2nd, 2003, 03:42 PM
You can learn fly and breast as an adult. I took lessons at 38 am now 42, and fly and breast are fast becoming my best strokes. Now am I fast, not compared to the national standards, but I am still dropping time, so I don't know. I can complete a 400 IM well under 7:00, for someone who could not swim 3 years ago, that's not bad. And yes, I am short and short waisted, I think that helps with fly and breast. My back is downright pitiful though!!

October 3rd, 2003, 12:58 AM
Well, as a kid I didn't have anymore problem learning the free than the breast. And as an adult it took about a month to develop the sidebreathing in free and the kick in breaststroke again. As for fly it took a lot longer because I didn't swim as much of it and I didn't start working out 2,000 workouts 3 to 4 days a day until last year again to built conditioning. And as a kid I had a fair fly. My best time then was 1:05.8. in a 100 yards. Recently in a workout I did a 1:47 fly and a breast a 1:43 and a 1:33 free. Now, the back I did a 1:56. I swam a 200 meter free at 1:34 at the 100 meter mark and I swam a 1:43.31 breast in a long course meet,so I do swim faster at meets. The workout times were yards. As an adult the breast is the best. The free is second and the fly is in third now and the back is behind the pack

October 3rd, 2003, 07:49 AM
it is hard to gauge how I am doing as I have only competed twice since I learned three years ago. My fly split on the 400 IM(yards) was 1:31.00, I have swum 1:37 breast in practice, and 1:40 back. Free is around 1:15-1:17. 100 IM is around 1:20, 200 IM 3:20.

Still so far from those National times, but I got into this for fitness, it has been fun to get faster in my 40's since I never swam before this.

When I took lessons at 38, I could do a form of freestlye with my head up, could not do any of the other strokes, and it took me 6 months to be able to swim farther than a 100 and that 100 took me 3:00! :) I did not start out of shape, as I have been a life long exerciser. The boast in times this year has been a 35 pound weight loss. Makes a big difference.

October 3rd, 2003, 09:50 AM
Dorothy, you are an inspiration!

October 3rd, 2003, 11:28 AM
We are close in free or breast time,Dorothy. But you might just be a little faster since that was a split from an IM. You are way head of me in fly and back.

October 3rd, 2003, 12:27 PM
Coach thinks I could probably go low 1:20 on fly if I raced it. Breast took me FOREVER to learn. I could not get the timing down, it was so maddening. I think I overthought it, because now it is getting a lot better. That 1:37 is a time taken over a year ago, so who knows where I am now.

I timed a 200 fly at 3:30, which is slow, but just finishing that one is good.

I spend a lot of time at swim meets for my kids, watching swimmers. If you know what to look for, you can learn a lot! I also ask their coaches lots of questions to get tips on my own swimming. They are always very generous with their help.

October 3rd, 2003, 10:29 PM
I'm in the age group after years in the 45 to 49 and if you continual to improve you can make the NQT. There easier in meter swims since less people swim meter meets. I made both the 50 meter and the 100 meter breast. In the 200 meter I can't hold it together yet at a faster speed so I missed it.

October 4th, 2003, 09:31 AM
I don't know, the times still look really hard. I did swim a 35 high in the 50 free last summer in long course and I know the next age group is a 34. But that is still 3 years away.

I also cannot afford to be attending meets all over the place. My kids swim and we travel a lot for that, so to add me traveling is crazy, so this winter I will probably only do 2 meets, one this month and one in March.

Nationals being in Indy in the spring does make it attractive to go. I have a friend who is trying to get me to go regardless of whether I have times, and I may just to see what it is like. April is a slow time for age group swimmers except National level, and my 15 year old boy is not quite there yet, needs to grow.

October 4th, 2003, 12:02 PM
Hi Dorothy,
There will be a real push to get Illinois Masters swimmers to go to Indy. (But in a friendly way. :) ) A big crowd means more relays (up to four, which don't count against your 3-6 individual events), better team spirit, and hopefully more loot! (It would be nice to get banners for placing in the team categories...)

October 4th, 2003, 01:18 PM
Yeah, Nadine is the friend I was talking about. She swims some of the time with my son's team and is awesome!! I think it would be fun and it is at a good time of year for me. I would be at the bottom of the pack, but I don't think that will bother me.

I am heading over there at the end of the month to see what it is like to swim over there. Been to Indy many, many times for my son, I am sure it will be a different perspective being there to compete!