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martin_05
August 2nd, 2011, 05:10 PM
Please let me know if this forum isn't for this kind of question.

I am trying to learn to swim properly. I have been very comfortable with water all my life, no problems at all. However, the only stroke I have ever swum is the breast stroke and probably not so well. Still, I have crossed small lakes swimming and feel completely at ease in any body of water.

Now I am trying to learn proper freestyle. No coach at this point. Lots of videos on the 'net and I also ordered the TI videos.

One problem I am having is that my body doesn't seem to stay near the surface of the water. Because of this, when I rotate to breathe the air isn't there...so I have to either over rotate or wait for the bobbing cycle to bring me back to the surface. I am not sure why this is happening and I am hoping that this is a simple newbie mistake and someone can point out how to correct it.

I am swimming with my head down, even pushing it down chin-to-chest. I am also doing skating drills on both sides and breathing without any problems during those. It's when I transition to crawl that I seem to descend just a few inches. I imagine if I was watching from the outside I'd see me kind of bobbing up and down as I move through the pool.

Any ideas or pointers in the right direction would be appreciated.

Thanks,

-Martin

RadSwim
August 2nd, 2011, 09:53 PM
I learned 6 years ago using TI book, video and coaches. If I was to start today, I would use the materials available at www.swimsmooth.com (http://www.swimsmooth.com).

martin_05
August 3rd, 2011, 02:44 PM
I learned 6 years ago using TI book, video and coaches. If I were to start today, I would use the materials available at www.swimsmooth.com.

Interesting. The styles seem to be quite different. What attracts me to TI is the increase in efficiency they claim. Is this not true? Not that it matters a lot at my stage, of course.

As to my problem, maybe I figured it out by watching the animation on swimsmooth. I think that in my power stroke I am pressing down a lot more than I should. This is causing my body to lift. Once I breathe I come down and my body sinks a little. That's why, I think, I am bobbing up and down as I move forward.

I see that the animation shows the hand markedly rotating downward as the power stroke begins. I guess the idea is to try to apply most of the force backwards. I'll experiment with this at the gym tonight and see how it goes.

Thanks for the link.

bud
August 3rd, 2011, 07:27 PM
You would probably benefit a lot from a series of group or individually coached sessions. You can do a lot on your own, but at some point you HAVE to get someone with the right experience to work with you.

It sounds like you are moving in the right direction. I'd encourage you to keep visiting this forum. Not everything will be of interest to you, but there are a lot of remarkably skilled (and nice) folks here who frequently have discussions that you will likely benefit from.

To get the correct body position for easy breathing in front crawl is too much to cover in one post, or even one thread probably. But this is usually how I introduce the idea...

Can you float on your back with your toes out of the water?

The lesson is on "center of buoyancy". You want to try it with arms in opposite positions... over your head, and at your sides.

For all strokes a goal should be a flat body position in the water. This helps improve streamlining, which in turn makes everything else easier (like breathing). :-D

If you want some additional articles to look over try these sources:
http://www.h2oustonswims.org/articles_by_category.html
http://www.svl.ch/index.html

:)

qbrain
August 3rd, 2011, 08:14 PM
You would probably benefit a lot from a series of group or individually coached sessions. You can do a lot on your own, but at some point you HAVE to get someone with the right experience to work with you.


I second this. 10 minutes with someone who has given swimming instruction before might correct your problem.

It is really hard to help with your problem because I can't see you and you can't see yourself to describe what is actually happening, but there is probably a reason you are sinking.

If someone can video tape you that might help as well, but the quickest solution will be to find someone to work with you in person.

martin_05
August 4th, 2011, 02:21 AM
You would probably benefit a lot from a series of group or individually coached sessions. You can do a lot on your own, but at some point you HAVE to get someone with the right experience to work with you.

It sounds like you are moving in the right direction. I'd encourage you to keep visiting this forum. Not everything will be of interest to you, but there are a lot of remarkably skilled (and nice) folks here who frequently have discussions that you will likely benefit from.

To get the correct body position for easy breathing in front crawl is too much to cover in one post, or even one thread probably. But this is usually how I introduce the idea...

Can you float on your back with your toes out of the water?

The lesson is on "center of buoyancy". You want to try it with arms in opposite positions... over your head, and at your sides.

For all strokes a goal should be a flat body position in the water. This helps improve streamlining, which in turn makes everything else easier (like breathing). :-D

If you want some additional articles to look over try these sources:
http://www.h2oustonswims.org/articles_by_category.html
http://www.svl.ch/index.html

:)

Thanks for the encouragement, pointers and links.

I was lucky to find an adult swimming class at the local city pool tonight and decided to go give it a shot. The downside was the none of the instructors struck me as real technical people. Most of what they do at the pool is run kids programs. I was there half an hour prior to my class to watch. Most everyone was churning-up water...lots of slapping, head out of the water, kicking out of the water, etc.

Anyhow, the only real critique I got was that I wasn't kicking from the hips. I was told that I was bending my knees too much. I worked on correcting that both with a paddle board and simply swimming with my arms out front without using them. At first my kicks were large and I really wasn't moving forward very fast at all. Then I was told to try a higher frequency kick with less amplitude. That seemed to propel me forward at a faster rate.

Overall it was useful just on that one point, but I am not so sure how far they can take me. I have years of martial arts behind me (far behind me) so I can be and like to be very technical and precise about motion. That also means that I am used to learning by watching, which is what I've been doing with the myriad of videos available on the web. Neat.

I measured my progress by simply comparing my speed to others in adjoining lanes who were swimming laps and seemed to be proficient. One week ago I couldn't go a third of the pool without stopping because everything was wrong, including, more importantly, my breathing technique. Tonight I'd say that the best swimmer at the pool was 25% faster than I was for one lap. My breathing still isn't perfect so I have to take a short break after one lap (50m total). To me that is a huge improvement over my condition just a few days ago and every bit of it has been about technique. I am certainly not powering through any of it because I am way out of shape right now.

I might try the public pool coaching again, but I would really like to find a more technical instructor to really tear apart what I am doing so that I can really learn. On this point, I would appreciate any recommendations in the San Fernando Valley or Valencia, CA region.


Float on my back with toes out of the water? I think so. I tried it tonight very briefly. If I stretch out like a plank, yes. Anything else results in toes and legs sinking. I didn't play with arm positions. I'll do that tomorrow at the gym. A link to a video showing what this exercise might look like would be wonderful.

I presume you are trying to determine the location of my center of buoyancy. Is this correct? What would be the significance of knowing this?

Also, tomorrow I am supposed to cross our local lake (swimming, of course). It's a little over 300 meters. My son is in the local Junior Lifeguard program. They invite parents to do the crossing with the kids at the end of the session. I did it last year and was dead last. I was the only swimmer left in the lake, swimming on my own for probably 15 minutes (lifeguards flanking me on surfboards). My breast-stroke was horrible --never having taken a lesson in my life-- so I wasn't very fast at all.

Anyhow, I am thinking of doing it again tomorrow. I think that my freestyle technique is reasonable enough. My problem right now is that I am running out of breath. I think I am going to get one of those swimming snorkels and just do it. I should be fine. Heck, there will be about 15 lifeguards on surfboards along the crossing path. Why not? It's cheating, but, then again, I get to focus on technique for 300m straight.

Sorry, long post.

norascats
August 4th, 2011, 10:27 AM
Do you have a local Masters group? The coach might be able to give you some lessons. Most of the people in my grop are really willing to help an interested beginner. We have a lot of triathletes who are not good swimmier, but are very fit athletes. They learn fast. They follow instructions quickly and can adapt to a good swimming pace quickly.

bud
August 4th, 2011, 11:03 AM
....the only real critique I got was that I wasn't kicking from the hips. I was told that I was bending my knees too much.... I am certainly not powering through any of it because I am way out of shape right now....
Sounds like the instructor nailed it. With too big a kick you may as well tie a boat anchor around your waist. You want a long, slender "vessel shape" (you will likely hear that term again while getting coached). Think: "12-meter class yacht"... not "barge".

Everything will get easier as your physical conditioning improves.

Your martial arts background is likely going to help you a lot.

Because of your comfort with crossing open water, I'd not be inclined to call you a beginner, but from what you've described, I bet there are some really nervous lifeguards watching you... especially if you are bigger than they are.

It sounds like Patience and Practice are what you need most right now.

Again, some good coaching is going to go a long way too.

Most instructors/coaches working with someone at your current level are going to single out your biggest flaw and work on that. Entry-level technique classes (and they are ALL about technique, at all levels) are likely going to give you one task at a time... that is how it works. Advanced classes are different... and then there is everything in-between.

If you get a privately coached session, you can press them for a list of tips, but a good coach will know how to best address your needs. If you find them pressing you in a different direction than what you want or expect, it is likely because they know what is best for you. But without a recommendation, it may take some of your time to determine the coaches skill level. Anyone who has been on a swim team since they were 10 years old however, and been coaching a year or more, will likely know what is best for you.

I admire your courage. And believe me, anyone who knows is going to do the same. You have a lot of good ideas and drive... and having the right motivation is probably 90% of what you need now... plus putting in the time in the water. Your current level of enthusiasm and motivation is going to take you a long way. When folks see that for themselves, they will respect and admire it. You have a fair amount of work ahead of you though, so be patient... and practice. ;)

If I saw someone like you at an event like the JLG one for your son, I'd possibly approach them for a chat, and end up giving them some pointers on the spot. I've learned to be cautious though, in regards to approaching folks to give free advice. I usually wait to be asked now. More than once though, I've offered to give folks 5-10 minutes of my time... after I've finished my practice. I'm easy to interrupt for 30sec. or so, but most folks are swimming timed intervals, so be careful about chatting folks up that are in the middle of a practice session. If you are diplomatic about it though, you may very well be able to chat some folks up and get some free pointers. Nothing is going to be a substitute for a structured coached session though, either group or private, and that sounds like your best bet right now.

I would not worry too much about long posts, it happens... obviously, I use my fair share of bandwidth. Your initial question was fairly direct, but covered a lot of territory, so that was likely the reason for minimal responses. One thing I can assure you, the more precise your question, the more responses you will get. If you visit this BBS enough, you will begin to recognize the pattern, as well as quickly single out the threads and posters who can benefit you the most.

I strongly encourage you to keep visiting this BBS.

One good thing to know how to use here is the Advanced Search (http://forums.usms.org/search.php) option... available as a link at the top of every page here.

As for more details on the "center of buoyancy" lesson, try this first:

View these posts / threads:
keeping feet above water .. plssssssss help ... - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums

Crossover Kick - should I lose it? - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums

Do some people actually have buoyant legs? - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums

Those are three examples of where I've talked about "buoyancy" here before... there are 7 others... here is how to find them all:

Using the advanced search option... enter:
keyword = buoyancy
user = bud
Show Results as = posts
leave everything else as the default setting

If you still want specific details after that, post so here, and I'll address it in time. Right now I'm ready to move on.
:D

It sounds like you are in the Southern Pacific LMSC (http://www.usms.org/lmsc/lmscinfoform.php?LMSCID=33)... the LMSC (Local Masters Swim Committee) page for your area (http://www.usms.org/lmsc/) is a really good place to start to find individual and group coached sessions. If you take the "Places to Swim" link there, you should have lots of choices. Check out the SoPac LMSC web link there too, for more info.

You can also try posting an inquiry at the SoPac LMSC forum here.

If you get a private session 1x/wk, and practice that 3x/wk, in 2-3 months you should feel really comfortable signing up for a regular group coached session. That does not mean you cannot go to a group coached session now... in fact... I recommend it. Most teams/clubs welcome swimmers of all levels. Most also allow one or more free sessions as a "try before you buy" sort of thing. (Most I know anyway, I'm not familiar with your area.) Visiting several USMS affiliated clubs in your area will teach you a lot, let you meet some coaches, as well as a lot of great swimmers.

You may progress faster with the private coach / self-practice route, it that is your preference. But you will likely progress as fast or faster, meet a lot more folks, and have a lot more fun with a coached group (team/club).

Swimmers in general are a very laid back bunch... I think it has to do with the medium they exorcise in. If you visit some local clubs, and especially if you join one, you will almost for sure find the help you want, easily.

Keep us posted on your progress... you will likely find a lot of encouragement here if you visit often enough.

Whatever you do, just don't forget to keep it FUN!

;)

martin_05
August 4th, 2011, 03:51 PM
Do you have a local Masters group? The coach might be able to give you some lessons. Most of the people in my grop are really willing to help an interested beginner. We have a lot of triathletes who are not good swimmier, but are very fit athletes. They learn fast. They follow instructions quickly and can adapt to a good swimming pace quickly.

Yes! Found a Masters group nearby. Contacted the coach. I am going to try and make one of their sessions in the next couple of days. It sound like this is exactly what I need. Thanks for bringing it up.

-Martin

martin_05
August 4th, 2011, 04:12 PM
Because of your comfort with crossing open water, I'd not be inclined to call you a beginner, but from what you've described, I bet there are some really nervous lifeguards watching you... especially if you are bigger than they are.

Well, I don't know what else to call me...maybe an "advancing beginner"?

No need for the lifeguards to worry about me. I am super-comfortable in water. A long time ago I used to be heavy into sailing. I decided that, at the very least, I needed to be good at floating. So I developed a simple technique and tested it in open water. Two hours later I got back in the boat because I was bored. It felt like I could go on for hours. It involves going completely limp and trying to use a bit of natural bobbing up/down motion (with as little help as needed) to breathe. Very relaxing.



I admire your courage. And believe me, anyone who knows is going to do the same. You have a lot of good ideas and drive... and having the right motivation is probably 90% of what you need now... plus putting in the time in the water. Your current level of enthusiasm and motivation is going to take you a long way. When folks see that for themselves, they will respect and admire it. You have a fair amount of work ahead of you though, so be patient... and practice. ;)

Wow, thanks. I am really excited about getting good at this and sort of kicking my self for not having done it a long time ago. Considering that I've always levitated towards water sports (sailing, scuba, kayaking, sculling, fishing --had to throw that one in) I don't understand why it took me so long to decide to learn. Maybe it was the fact that I was 15 behind the last person out of the lake for last years' crossing. The other element is that I found myself on the treadmill doing some cardio looking over to the pool section thinking "I really don't care for this hamster machine".


be careful about chatting folks up that are in the middle of a practice session.

Yeah. I thought about approaching folks I see at the gym that look so incredibly smooth in the pool...but I know very well what it is to be focused in what you are doing, it'd be rude to interrupt. Coaching would be the best for longer-term learning anyhow.

I found the local Masters Swimming Club and talked to the head coach. I am going to do a one week trial starting in the next couple of days. It sounds like this is exactly the program I need.



Keep us posted on your progress... you will likely find a lot of encouragement here if you visit often enough.

Whatever you do, just don't forget to keep it FUN!


I will. This certainly looks like a great forum. I am glad that I found it.

Thanks for the links.

I'll report back in about a week.

martin_05
August 12th, 2011, 11:31 AM
OK, I said that I would post an update in about a week. Here we are.

Two weeks ago I couldn't swim freestyle to save my life (literally). I could, maybe, fake it for about ten yards. After that I'd have to switch to this funky imitation of a breast-stroke that I've been doing all my life.

I decided I had to learn to swim properly.

I started on my own by looking at various videos on the web as well as the Total Immersion stuff. I did that for about a week. Lots of questions surfaced.

I then asked here and someone recommended that I find out if there was a Masters program near me. There was. I attended the very next day. Today I officially joined the program after a one week trial run.

What a difference! This morning I swam 750 yards in about an hour (with about 1 minute breaks every 50y). I am absolutely thrilled. From complete freestyle incompetence to this in two weeks? Wow!

I love the detail work and drills that coach is having me do. Lots of little details to work out. You really can't beat expert coaching. Also, the pool where the club meets is far, far better than the pool at the health club (50m x 25y x 7ft deep).

My swimming workouts are now five days a week and 1.5hours per session. I am going to use the remaining two days in the week to go to the gym and do some weight training.

Again, thanks for giving me a shove in the right direction. Now I know that I will become a better swimmer. I am looking forward to doing the lake crossing again next year and being near the front of the pack as opposed to 15 minutes behind the last guy.

jaadams1
August 12th, 2011, 11:36 AM
OK, I said that I would post an update in about a week. Here we are.

Two weeks ago I couldn't swim freestyle to save my life (literally). I could, maybe, fake it for about ten yards. After that I'd have to switch to this funky imitation of a breast-stroke that I've been doing all my life.

I decided I had to learn to swim properly.

I started on my own by looking at various videos on the web as well as the Total Immersion stuff. I did that for about a week. Lots of questions surfaced.

I then asked here and someone recommended that I find out if there was a Masters program near me. There was. I attended the very next day. Today I officially joined the program after a one week trial run.

What a difference! This morning I swam 750 yards in about an hour (with about 1 minute breaks every 50y). I am absolutely thrilled. From complete freestyle incompetence to this in two weeks? Wow!

I love the detail work and drills that coach is having me do. Lots of little details to work out. You really can't beat expert coaching. Also, the pool where the club meets is far, far better than the pool at the health club (50m x 25y x 7ft deep).

My swimming workouts are now five days a week and 1.5hours per session. I am going to use the remaining two days in the week to go to the gym and do some weight training.

Again, thanks for giving me a shove in the right direction. Now I know that I will become a better swimmer and I am looking forward to doing the lake crossing again next year and being near the front of the pack as opposed to 15 minutes behind the last guy.


Congratulations...looks like you're heading in the right direction. :applaud: Don't forget to take a day or two off in the week. Your body will thank you later. :)

orca1946
August 12th, 2011, 12:59 PM
As you have found out a coach/team can make a world of difference! Stick with it. Maybe stay with the team all winter season. Good luck !

bud
August 12th, 2011, 06:42 PM
Sounds like you got a great deal.

This BBS can be very helpful at times, both observing and asking questions. Hope you stick around. :)

Have Fun!

:)

martin_05
August 12th, 2011, 07:16 PM
Sounds like you got a great deal.

This BBS can be very helpful at times, both observing and asking questions. Hope you stick around. :)

Have Fun!

:)

Yup. Perfect advise here. I really appreciate it. I signed up for twelve months at the club. You can be sure I'll be and active and also passive participant on this forum.

cheakamus
August 14th, 2011, 12:49 AM
Yes, congratulations on finding and joining a masters group. I think you'll be amazed at how quickly you progress, in terms of both technique and stamina. If there's anything at all that I regret about my swimming "career," it's that I didn't join a masters group about 10 years sooner.

Michael Heather
August 16th, 2011, 01:12 AM
Please post the name of the club you have joined, they deserve recognition (is it Santa Clarita?).

And you are to be commended for having developed the commitment to improve your swimming when you really did not need to, since you were water safe anyway. In my experience, not many people seek to improve their strokes the way you have. I hope to meet you at a meet in the near future!

BTW, your long term floating technique is actually taught and has a name. I just wish I could remember it (haven't been a swimming teacher since 1971).

martin_05
August 16th, 2011, 12:47 PM
Please post the name of the club you have joined, they deserve recognition (is it Santa Clarita?).

And you are to be commended for having developed the commitment to improve your swimming when you really did not need to, since you were water safe anyway. In my experience, not many people seek to improve their strokes the way you have. I hope to meet you at a meet in the near future!

BTW, your long term floating technique is actually taught and has a name. I just wish I could remember it (haven't been a swimming teacher since 1971).

http://santaclaritamastersswimming.com/

I did about 2,000y today (with breaks). Blows me away. Still lots of details to work on. There are 25 things happening at the same time!

With regards to the floating technique. I am not surprised that it is taught. I actually came up with it on my own years ago as I contemplated going swimming on my sailing (ocean) trips. I just wanted to be sure that I could hang there and catch my breath/rest while expending minimal energy. Being that I was not a good swimmer at all (horribly inefficient imitation of breast stroke) I knew that if I swam away from the boat I'd get tired. The technique I call "bobbing" is what came out of trying various ideas in the pool.

Funny enough, the technique came in handy when my kid went into the local Junior Lifeguard program. He was truly freaked out about swimming in the lake. I mean, you can barely see your fingertips in some areas. Having grown-up swimming in nice clean pools the lake was a jarring experience. He was supposed to do 150y in 2:30 in order to be admitted into the program. Even I could see that his technique was not very good at all...but the murky water didn't help.

The way I dealt with it was to teach him my "bobbing" technique and get him to use it as a way to relax in the middle of the lake. Once you know that you are reasonably safe it is far easier to relax. In last year's lake crossing I got cramps in both legs around the middle of the lake. Painful as it was, I knew that I could just hang there and wait for the cramps to pass. Anyhow, once my kid learned to relax the swimming part was far less problematic.

Now I am hoping to learn proper swimming technique myself so that I can teach my kids. We go kayaking at the lake all the time. I want them to know how to swim well enough to handle almost any situation.

I did 2,000y this morning (with short breaks every 200/300 or so). Everything still hurts, but it feels great. I'm swallowing less water...I must be doing something right.

Fenella
August 17th, 2011, 10:13 AM
You mention you did a lot of martial arts. I wonder if you have less weight in your upper body and carry more muscle in your legs that may affect balance

My dearly beloved was a keen runner for many years. His legs are so muscled that if he tries to lie flat in the water he immediately starts to list to stern and goes down like the Titanic - its so bad his arms come out of the water

He cant do TI breathing drills either :drowning:

martin_05
August 17th, 2011, 10:24 AM
You mention you did a lot of martial arts. I wonder if you have less weight in your upper body and carry more muscle in your legs that may affect balance

My dearly beloved was a keen runner for many years. His legs are so muscled that if he tries to lie flat in the water he immediately starts to list to stern and goes down like the Titanic - its so bad his arms come out of the water

He cant do TI breathing drills either :drowning:

Never thought of that. I have to loose about 30lbs before I can honestly make that assessment.

Michael Heather
August 17th, 2011, 04:34 PM
TI is good for certain aspects of swimming, but has a lot of emphasis on very slow, methodical drills that some people have difficulty slowing down to. On your sinking legs and breathing problem, the simple solution is to kick a little more. Many people forget to kick at all when they concentrate on swimming crawl without a competition background. The stroke demands plenty of concentration to effect a forward motion while cycling you arms, so your legs are a secondary thought process.

Exhale completely while your face is in the water, nose pointing down or forward. The breath you take will be far easier if it is a total inhale when your head is turned.