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Paul 1953
August 28th, 2011, 07:31 PM
Hi,
This is my 1st post.

I have been a fitness swimmer (off & on depending if I lived near a pool) for nearly 30 years, since my mid-20s when I taught myself to swim a mile freestyle non-stop. (I had a few pointers from a local swim coach back then)

My times have always been around 30 minutes, give or take.

I am now retired and have a year round indoor pool. It's short... 56 feet I think. 48 laps= 1 mile. Yes, it's a lot of flip turns.

I still do dry land, weights, pushups & chin ups etc.

But I don't like spending more than 30 min in the pool. Typically, it's mostly freestyle, with a few backstroke & kickboard thrown in...all nonstop & flip turns.

I went all out on Friday, and still fell just short of a mile :-(

My question: Is it unrealistic to expect to improve my time without spending more time in the water?

No Masters around here (Camano Island Wa), but I did hear a local pastor used to coach a Brazilian Olympic team...

ps I was just reading some threads here and found out the S curve stroke is no longer advised. Ha! News to me. Maybe that's my problem.

Debugger
August 29th, 2011, 10:09 AM
Don't think so. You may achieve some improvements by swimming exercises - that will improve your technique and times but not your performance and endurance.
Common sets for swimmers who swim 1.5K are:
3-5x1500 - 60% MHR
15x100 - threshold swimming 10sec rest between 100s
or 8-10x200 - same pattern.

All these example sets definitely take more than 30min. Professional stayers usually swim >70 miles a week. Of course you still may swim a mile each training aerobically without taking care about times - that's very useful for your heart. :)

ande
August 29th, 2011, 10:32 AM
Hi,
I went all out on Friday, and still fell just short of a mile :-(
My question: Is it unrealistic to expect to improve my time without spending more time in the water?
NO
it IS possible, you can improve your mile time by just training 30 minutes a day, but it is more probable and possible when you train further, faster, better, and more often.
Training 5 or 6 times a week is better than 3 or 4
Training 45 - 60 minutes per practice is better than 30.

The quickest way for you to get faster is to improve your technique. If you are making any technique errors and if you improve them, your improvement will be proportional to the corrections you made.
Because your mile takes you around 30 minutes, there has to be some low hanging technique improvement fruit for you to pick.

Also since your pool is short (56 ft)
I believe you can make your biggest fastest improvements by
improving your turns, push offs, and streamlines.
Concentrate on turning faster, pushing off harder, streamlining skinnier and gliding further and faster than you ever have before.

Technique: Swim long and smooth, do a 2 beat kick, breathe every 2 or 3,

Pacing: A mile is pretty long and it's wise to swim at a steady pace that you can sustain the whole way, this means you should go much easier at the beginning, work on even splitting and negative splitting


What kind of suit are you wearing?

There are many ways to improve. I wrote about them in SWIM FASTER FASTER

Also consider the edvice I gave in
Last 150 of my 500 falls off (http://www.usms.org/forums/showthread.php?t=13627&highlight=150+500)
Scott put my advice into action and made dramatic improvements in his 500, the same concepts apply to the mile it's just a bit over 3 times further than a 500.

What's your height and weight?
If you're too heavy, become a slimmer swimmer.

don't do the same work out each day
hit different systems different days of the week



Here's a sample week of practices:


Mon

warm up
8 minutes of easy 50's with 5 seconds rest (do awesome push offs)

main set
4 x (swim strong and steady for 4:30, rest 30)

cool down
100 easy on 2:00


Tue

warm up
8 minutes of easy 50's with 5 seconds rest, awesome push offs

main set
20 x 50 on 1:00 all fast best average

cool down
100 easy on 2:00


Wed

warm up
8 minutes of easy 50's with 5 seconds rest, awesome push offs

main set
8 x (swim hard and steady for 2:00, rest 30 sec)

cool down
100 easy on 2:00


Wed

warm up
8 minutes of easy 50's with 5 seconds rest, awesome push offs

main set
8 x (swim hard and steady for 2:00, rest 30 sec)

cool down
100 easy on 2:00


Thu

warm up
8 minutes of easy 50's with 5 seconds rest, awesome push offs

main set
4 x (swim 75% for 2:00, swim 80% for 2:00 rest 60 sec)

cool down
100 easy on 2:00


Fri

warm up 5:00 like 5 easy 50's on 1:00

main set
MILE FAST for time (awesome turns, push offs & streamlines)

100 easy 2:00


Sat

warm up 8:00 easy 50's with 10 sec rest after each

main set
20 x 25 FAST on 1:00

100 easy on 2:00


Sun off


Lastly if you consistently act like you're a man on a mission to dramatically improve his mile
You will, with out a doubt, but it takes what it takes.

Is training
harder, smarter, further, faster, & more often, with more desire, focus and intensity
a price you're willing to pay?

Hope this helps
let us know what you do and how you do.
Good luck,

ande

Swimosaur
August 29th, 2011, 10:39 AM
Hi Paul! My :2cents: ...

I would say yes, it is possible to improve your time to under 30 minutes. The main idea is that 96 lengths of your short pool equals 96 times 1 one length at a time. Make each length exactly the same as all others, improve the efficiency and speed of each length, and your time will fall.

How many strokes do you take per length? Be conscious of the number. Better distance per stoke usually means more efficient use of energy, so in general, to a rough first approximation, fewer strokes per length is better. What is your breathing pattern? How many breaths per length do you take? How many do you need to stay in equilibrium? Also work on the push, and try to improve your streamline off the wall.

My numbers for a decidedly non-record-setting 21 minute 1650 in a 25 yard pool (after the first few hundred to settle in): 13 strokes per length with 7 breaths per length for the first 800, then 15 strokes per length, 8 breaths per length the rest of the way (I breathe once per cycle on the right). I've watched much better distance swimmers than myself; each has a highly stereotyped stroke & breathing pattern they follow on each length. Play with your numbers and your patterns to find what works best for you.

Debugger
August 29th, 2011, 11:34 AM
Guys, in my opinion, serious improvement is swimming a mile in less than 18min - I consider that's impossible to achieve by swimming only 30min a day.
Of course it's possible to improve technique and to swim it in relatively easy manner in 23 or even 22 min. For amateur it's not a bad result. To go down beyond that time IMO most likely you will need to swim harder and to spend more time in the water.

Maybe before writing a training plan a good idea would be to ask Paul 1953 what time you expect to achieve?

pmccoy
August 29th, 2011, 12:21 PM
Guys, in my opinion, serious improvement is swimming a mile in less than 18min - I consider that's impossible to achieve by swimming only 30min a day.
An 18 min mile corresponds to about a 16:52 1650. Given that he is retired and other clues in his post, I'm guessing that he is in the 55-59 age group. 16:52 would shatter the world record for that age group (17:11). Anything under 20 would get him in the top ten for the year. I'd guess that 18 minutes isn't really acheivable under an swimming program for that age group but it would be some serious improvement.

Can he break a 30 minute mile by just training 30 min a day? I worked up to a mile in 30 minutes by just swimming a mile every day for about a month. I didn't have any serious racing background. I'm pretty sure he could do the same. I'd guess that a 25 minute mile is achievable with 30 min/day. Good streamlined flip turns are going to be the key to significant improvement. If you lose 1 second a turn, you are giving up 90-100 seconds per mile. Find a good flip turn/streamline video and learn to do it correctly (I think www.goswim.tv (http://www.goswim.tv) has some - also has some good stroke videos).

Check your math. At 56 feet, you only need 47.1 laps to make a mile. If 48 laps is exactly a mile, your pool is 55 feet long. If the former is correct, you might already be making it. If the latter, be patient... it will come. Do intervals. If I had started with the workout Ande laid out, I'd have acheived a 30 minute mile much faster than I did and I wouldn't have been nearly as bored.

qbrain
August 29th, 2011, 12:27 PM
Guys, in my opinion, serious improvement is swimming a mile in less than 18min

A 12 minute drop in the mile would certainly be a serious improvement.

lefty
August 29th, 2011, 12:52 PM
As Debugger wrote, we really aren't sure what you are asking, BUT:

If you swim 30 minutes straight every day, you will probably not get better. In fact, I think you will get worse/slower** But it is possible to get better in just 30 minutes if you implement a program.

** I see alot of swimmers who just do straight/non-stop swims. I have noticed that 10 minutes into the straight swim they are taking 5-6 more strokes per lap than they did when they started. The result of the swim is that they ingrain an inefficient stroke. 6 months later they are slower than when they started.

orca1946
August 29th, 2011, 03:18 PM
Do you want to get faster by a 2 min or 8 min time span?
Give us an idea .

GMM
August 29th, 2011, 03:20 PM
...My times have always been around 30 minutes, give or take....

Take it!
U can use one of the most important training protocol now under scientific research. Use your HR (Heart Rate) to fix ur training in this way:
1) Have a right medical check with a doctor specialist in sports and fix ur HR Max. Please don't use the "basic" law (220-age) because that is good just to talk about the "middle" in a population, not for you
2) Use a right cardio during ur swim (the best underwater is the "t-31" by Polar)
3) Swim at ur max HR but, important, if your doctor give u the HR max after a laboratory test (not in a pool) remember to decrease this "max" by 8-1o beats because in a pool ur max is not the same outwater.
4) and now, have this training: 4minutes at 90% of HR max, 3minutes at 60%. This for 3 times (if u can, or until ur exaustathion).

Do that after 10minutes of warm-up and, let me know

ciao

ande
August 29th, 2011, 04:00 PM
Guys, in my opinion, serious improvement is swimming a mile in less than 18min - I consider that's impossible to achieve by swimming only 30min a day.
Of course it's possible to improve technique and to swim it in relatively easy manner in 23 or even 22 min. For amateur it's not a bad result. To go down beyond that time IMO most likely you will need to swim harder and to spend more time in the water.

Maybe before writing a training plan a good idea would be to ask Paul 1953 what time you expect to achieve?

No, serious improvement is Paul making progress from his 30:00 minutes base time for his mile. Serious improvement is him improving his times and ability.

I'm curious to see what he can accomplish with just 30 min a day.
His "before" is 30 minutes, let's see how much he can drop.
He should feel good about what ever he does.
Applying some random external standard like doing a 1650 in 18 minutes or 1760 in ??:?? leads to comparing and despairing, which might cause him to give up and the point is for him to train as much and as hard and as smart as he can and enjoy swimming. He didn't tell us much of his story so we are giving suggestions with only some of the facts.

Let's see how he does

gaash
August 29th, 2011, 05:12 PM
Depends a lot on your technique. If it can use a lot of major improvements then probably you can. If not, I would suspect it will be tough to make major improvements.

MickYoung
August 29th, 2011, 06:06 PM
Guys, in my opinion, serious improvement is swimming a mile in less than 18min


You come up with a program that could get a typical geezer to do a mile in 18 minutes? Please let me know.

Thanks.

For the original pooster? I would consider alternating three workouts.

1) Push as ahrd as you can for 30 minutes.

2) Short warmup. do a 400 fast, take a couple relaxed laps, do another 400 fast, (maybe a 3rd one?) short wind down.

3) Short warmup. 100 yard sprints (or maybe 3 lengths, which might be 110, if I understand your pool diminsions correctly) with short rests, until you have maybe 4 minutes left, then a wind down.


Of course you time would get a whole loty better if you did longer workouts for a month or two. Then 30 minutes a day would slow the inevitable decline.

KatieK
August 29th, 2011, 07:45 PM
I really like Ande's and Lefty's suggestions.

I would also add one more: Time everything you do. When you swim a continuous distance, get your 100-yard or 200-yard splits. Keep a log of your times.

There are some fancy watches out there that do this automagically, but it's easy enough with a simple stop watch. I hit split whenever I start and stop a set. On long sets, I do an open turn every 200 yards so I can hit the split button. At the end of my workout, I hit save.

When I look at my log, I can tell if I'm slowing down over the course of a long set. I can also see how I've improved. This information helps me set realistic goals.

Paul 1953
August 30th, 2011, 01:04 AM
Wow,

SO much great advise. Thank you all so much! I don't know where to begin responding, esp since it's bedtime.

I esp liked this encouraging remark from Ande:

Because your mile takes you around 30 minutes, there has to be some low hanging technique improvement fruit for you to pick.
Thanks for that Ande, and your suggested workouts.

I found out the local Pastor/ex coach I mentioned is Brad Hering who is even listed on this site. Maybe I can rope him into a little moonlighting away from church.

Otherwise, about some other questions & comments.
Yes, I do count my strokes, and I breath alternate sides.
Rather than timing splits, I've just been wearing a HRM and recording daily Avg/Peak and 1 min cooldown rates.

I've been a fitness runner or swimmer since college 30 yrs ago, so I have always been able to keep my weight in check (I'm 6'1" and currently 180, ...that's about 5 lbs high for me)

Yes, I just went out and got a proper swimsuit. My board shorts didn't bother me when I was just working out. But last Friday going for time, they were a real DRAG!

Having read all your generous advise, I think I would be willing to give a little more than 30 minutes/day. I swim Mon-Fri...sometimes Sat for a makeup day.

Wow...to get down into the mid 20s would be unbelievable!

Back when I was leaning to swim laps in my mid-20s, the local HIgh school swim coach would give me pointers. I told him Johnny Weismuller was one of my heros. He said that the girls on his high school team had already beat his olympic records ;-)

Debugger
August 30th, 2011, 05:14 AM
You come up with a program that could get a typical geezer to do a mile in 18 minutes? Please let me know.

Thanks.

For the original pooster? I would consider alternating three workouts.

1) Push as ahrd as you can for 30 minutes.

2) Short warmup. do a 400 fast, take a couple relaxed laps, do another 400 fast, (maybe a 3rd one?) short wind down.

3) Short warmup. 100 yard sprints (or maybe 3 lengths, which might be 110, if I understand your pool diminsions correctly) with short rests, until you have maybe 4 minutes left, then a wind down.


Of course you time would get a whole loty better if you did longer workouts for a month or two. Then 30 minutes a day would slow the inevitable decline.
Ok, maybe I exaggerated a bit telling about 18 min. At the beginning I didn't realize he's in his 50s.
Anyway a mile in 30min means there's a room for improvement of the technique.
Paul 1953, I wonder what is your heart rate staight after you swim a mile and after a minute?
I don't consider 1 program would be enough a good planning is required. Since a mile is a long distance I would suggest to make a planning for half a year:
1) 2 months you need to work on basic endurance and technique. That means you need to swim not faster than 60% of MHR concentrating on technique. I am not sure what kind of gaps you have in your technique - the good idea would be to ask some coach to see it. Then knowing what to work on you can select exercises to fix that problems.
Swim sets which contain exercises alternating with full stroke, like
8x200 - 50 exercise / 50 full stroke. or 4x400 or 2x800 in the same manner.
Once a week you may swim entire mile but don't rush, try to keep heart rate not more than 60-70%.
2) next 2 months you add threshold work. I will not write how to define anaerobic threshold, if you don't know - there are plenty articles. half of the tasks you do should be still aerobic - 60% MHR and exercises. but now you also swim 1-2 a week interval sets like 8x200 or 16x100 on 80-85% of the MHR(depending on you threshold) Rest 10-15 sec. Try to keep the same time each 100 - 200. If you fade then you took high rhythm - next time decrease it a bit. The beginning should feel very easy but it will get hard but you should be able to maintain same time.
3) next 2 months. Here 1st of these 2 months you add some some lactate production and lactate tolerance sets (could be same 8x200 but on 90-95% of the MHR) and
2nd month some speed sets like 16x100 - 25 all out / 75 easy Here you also can do what Mick advised "Short warmup. do a 400 fast, take a couple relaxed laps, do another 400 fast, (maybe a 3rd one?) short wind down." Last 2 weeks decrease intensity and rest. At the end of these 2 weeks swim a mile. Record time.
Each half a year your time should improve. Mile or 1.5K is a serious work and requires serious approach and planning. Later you may use this schema to prepare for competitions with slight changes. For sprinters it's easier, personally I swim 50 and 100 so I can split my season into smaller - 3 months cycles. After certain level you will feel that 30 min is not enough to improve.

Here's a nice overview of the swimming planning phases - http://www.brianmac.co.uk/swimming/swimplan.htm

Also I would advice to get a book "Serious Training for Endurance Athletes" by Rob Sleamaker and Ray Browning - great book which describes in details preparation process for triathlon events and can be used by endurance swimmers.
Amazon.com: Serious Training for Endurance Athletes 2nd (9780873226448): Rob Sleamaker, Ray Browning: Books

ande
August 30th, 2011, 12:39 PM
Wow, SO much great advise. Thank you all so much! I don't know where to begin responding, esp since it's bedtime.
I esp liked this encouraging remark from Ande:
Thanks for that Ande, and your suggested workouts.
I found out the local Pastor/ex coach I mentioned is Brad Hering who is even listed on this site. Maybe I can rope him into a little moonlighting away from church.
Otherwise, about some other questions & comments.
Yes, I do count my strokes, and I breath alternate sides.
Rather than timing splits, I've just been wearing a HRM and recording daily Avg/Peak and 1 min cooldown rates.
I've been a fitness runner or swimmer since college 30 yrs ago, so I have always been able to keep my weight in check (I'm 6'1" and currently 180, ...that's about 5 lbs high for me)
Yes, I just went out and got a proper swimsuit. My board shorts didn't bother me when I was just working out. But last Friday going for time, they were a real DRAG!
Having read all your generous advise, I think I would be willing to give a little more than 30 minutes/day. I swim Mon - Fri ... sometimes Sat for a makeup day.
Wow...to get down into the mid 20s would be unbelievable!
Back when I was leaning to swim laps in my mid-20s, the local High school swim coach would give me pointers. I told him Johnny Weismuller was one of my heros. He said that the girls on his high school team had already beat his olympic records ;-)

Hey There Paul,

You're welcome.

since you're paul 1953 my guess is you were born in 53 and you're 58.

I recall a Brad Hering who was a butterflyer?
on roping him in, I suggest you begin with lunch or breakfast or find out if and when he's training and train when and where he does.

what are your stroke counts?
just note that when you breathe on alternate sides, every 3, you don't get as many breaths per length than you do by breathing every 2 on the same side.

"Rather than timing splits"
you want to pay attention to your times and splits.

is there any chance you can gain access to a 25 y or m pool?

is there any chance you can drive a little extra once or twice a week to train with a masters group?

you've been a fitness runner & swimmer since college
just know that sometimes when runners start swimming they have a tendancy to over kick when they swim.

Not sure if that's an issue for you. you need a nice steady 2 beat kick
you might benefit from total immersion swimming (http://www.swimoutlet.com/SearchResults.asp?Click=766231&Search=total+immersion),
which would teach you to work less and glide more when you swim
There's several good youtube videos (I'll find the link)


TI's main concepts are:

+ take Long smooth steady arm strokes,

+ use a small 2 beat kick mainly for balance,

+ Rotate from side to side when you swim, and

+ align your body when you swim,
begin with head position, swim with your head down,
look at the bottom of the pool when you swim,
if you swim with your head up, your hips sink, making you slower and less efficient.

+ Take fewer strokes per length, if you exert less effort when you swim,
you can swim longer at a stronger pace.

you've kept your weight in check
(6'1" 180 is good, you are lean)
you might benefit from strengthing swimming muscles

you wore board shorts and now you got a proper suit.
Do you mean a jammer or a brief?
That alone should make a signficant difference.

Consider wearing board shorts in practice Mon - Thu
then your faster suit on Friday's when you do your fast mile for time
Also wearing a TECH SUIT JAMMER (http://www.swimoutlet.com/SearchResults.asp?Click=766231&Cat=1036) can make a signicant difference in your time

Speaking of your fast mile for time,
you need to establish accurate bench mark
figure out the exact distance you'll swim and a way to time it to the second.

Training more than 30 minutes a day will help you get more fit and give you time to include additional sets in your workouts.
training 5x a week is good 6 or 7 is better.

Put forth a sincere training effort for several months and you should signifcantly improve your mile.

Ask a friend with an iphone to video you swimming freestyle at your mile pace in and out of a turn from:
1) head on swimming towards and away, and
2) from the side

Put both videos on youtube then post the links in this thread &
ask folks to view your technique and offer suggestions

My suggestion about changing technique is:

Changing technique is HARD,
you have to focus on the correction while you're swimming until it sticks
the moment you stop focusing and doing the correction
you're likely to fall back into your old habit.
so ONLY attempt to correct technique if it makes you faster or helps you avoid injuries. Only focus on 1, 2 or 3 corrections at a time. Less is more

Use short reminders like:

Streamline skinny, Push off hard, Glide FAR

Head down

Smooth strokes

Small kick

Think them and do them


Johnny Weismuller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Weissmuller#Swimming) His times were pretty good, his 57.4 100 LCM fr is a time most high school girls can't beat. Especially if they couldn't wear goggles, had to wear the same kind of suit he wore in 1924, and race in the same pool set up and lane lines.

His 4:57 400 fr was less impressive, today some 10, 11, & 12 year old girls swim faster than that.

Lastly set more goals,
like training for and racing in a masters meet
prepare for and race the 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, & 1500 or the 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, & 1650.
Preparing for a meet and races will give you something specific for train for, plus when you race, you'll have electronic splits in a standard length pool, which will show you how your times for different distances relate to each other and you'll have helpful info on how to improve.

Hope this helps,

Ande

Paul 1953
September 1st, 2011, 03:41 PM
Just to wrap up this thread I started. Thank you again for all your input and suggested workouts.

Brad Hering generously gave me an hour of his time poolside yesterday. Yes Ande there was indeed some "low hanging technique fruit" that he was able to point out.

1) My hands were entering the water too soon, not fully extended.
2) They were entering centered inline with my head, rather than slightly to the side inline with my shoulders. ( a hangover from learning the sculling S curve)

Today, just by focusing on those 2 things, I was able to shave 40 seconds off my last 3rd of a mile (550m)) at the end of the workout, though I was tired!

Drills he wants me to focus on are:
1) FS stroke using fists, and
2) double strokes each side.
3) Stretch, stretch, stretch, arms high above the head, touching my ears.

All in all he said my stroke was not bad for a 58 yr old self-taught amateur. :)

Here are a couple of clips he took of me in our mini (55') pool.

Coach correcting my stroke 1
http://youtu.be/bujJ34dkfZI

Coach correcting my stroke 2 (Brad's a very upbeat, encouraging guy!)
http://youtu.be/E0BQ7Tkn7UI

Thanks again everyone for your workout suggestions. I'm encouraged. I can see at least a couple of minutes falling off my 1 mile time.

ande
October 4th, 2011, 04:43 PM
any updates?

robertsrobson
October 5th, 2011, 05:42 AM
If you go from not swimming 30 mins per day, to doing so, of course you will improve your time/distance. By how much I don't know.

Even if you only have 30 mins, don't be tempted to swim non-stop all the time (as others have advised).

Most important, though, the health benefits will outweigh any time improvements.