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View Full Version : Returning to the pool - Can't do > 12.5 yards freestyle



harleycodr
March 29th, 2013, 05:32 PM
This is awful. I really want to be able to swim freestyle - I can do the breast stroke no problem. I'm taking a workshop and my instructor tells me "your freestyle stroke is very strong" but I'm so WEAK! I'm swimming in a 25 yard pool and I can't make it much more than halfway across the $#$@! pool without having to break into the breast stroke, and I feel like I am just dying.

I'm not in HORRIBLE shape, but not great shape (the current shape is round but my lifestyle changes will eliminate that in time)...I do martial arts, circuit training, can walk 2 miles without a problem.

What can I do to work up to freestyle without killing myself? I don't want to shorten my swims by trying to do freestyle and then dying and having to settle for less time in the water/moving around/burning it off.

Help!

Jimbosback
March 29th, 2013, 09:49 PM
I think you should work with what you have. The 25-yard mark is arbitrary. What is important to you is the distance you can swim without your stroke falling apart. Be patient.

Make your workouts about working toward that 25-yard goal. Swim hard as far as you can and then coast with your breaststroke. Do this as many times as you can take. Make this your main set. (Warm up with and cool down with slow swimming.) I suspect it will not take long before you can swim 25s. At that time, start working toward 50s.

Like Apollo told Rocky, swimming uses muscles you never knew you had. Yours just need to be awakened.

Water Rat
March 30th, 2013, 10:01 AM
Obviously I've never seen u swim but I would bet you're body position is way more vertical than it should be compounding your problem. I would guess your head is up and your butt is down. There's a drill in freestyle - the Tarzan drill where even the most seasoned freestylers have a hard time swimming in that position with their heads above water. I would invest in some equipment to help you maintain a horizontal body position - fins and a snorkel. Short fins like zoomers. These will help your propulsion to keep you flat and the snorkel will help you avoid what is probably another problem, breathing without lifting your head. Do lots of sculling drills with ur eyes on the bottom if the pool, body flat. Gradually add your arms until you can eventually drop the equipment.

Also, I remember when I returned to the pool after. 20 yr absence that the initial few weeks were horrible but it rapidly got better with effort and determination.

swimark
March 30th, 2013, 10:48 AM
Good advice from the posters above. I had a rough time returning to the pool after taking off a few decades. The first swim was brutal (as were the subsequent swims), but slowly over the course of months I was able to increase the distance I could swim. It does get easier as you condition your muscles and improve your technique.

harleycodr
March 30th, 2013, 11:04 AM
I'm taking a workshop and my instructor immediately corrected my head position as it was up and acting sort of like a dam. As soon as I put my head down, it got better immediately. He had us do a side to side roll so that wasn't a problem for me; he actually commented that my freestyle is very strong - I'm just a weakling.

I am getting some hand paddles and wish I still had my zoomers, but I can take a nice harley ride over to Finis and get some. I'll have my friend who I swim with take a look at my body position to make sure I'm not too vertical. I think I'm pretty horizontal. All of the excess insulation I have on my body makes me like a big floating barge (ugh). I'm about to hit the pool now...wish me luck...


Obviously I've never seen u swim but I would bet you're body position is way more vertical than it should be compounding your problem. I would guess your head is up and your butt is down. There's a drill in freestyle - the Tarzan drill where even the most seasoned freestylers have a hard time swimming in that position with their heads above water. I would invest in some equipment to help you maintain a horizontal body position - fins and a snorkel. Short fins like zoomers. These will help your propulsion to keep you flat and the snorkel will help you avoid what is probably another problem, breathing without lifting your head. Do lots of sculling drills with ur eyes on the bottom if the pool, body flat. Gradually add your arms until you can eventually drop the equipment.

Also, I remember when I returned to the pool after. 20 yr absence that the initial few weeks were horrible but it rapidly got better with effort and determination.

__steve__
March 30th, 2013, 12:51 PM
I was roughly at the same point with swimming ability around 5 years ago, maybe a little better, I had trouble with a length of freestyle. When starting out swimming, don't view it as an endpoint of exercise (because it will always be excellent exercise), but view it as a skill to master, the fitness will always occur. Think of efficiency and study the mechanics of proper form from the pros.

harleycodr
March 31st, 2013, 01:46 PM
Steve - I like your approach. That's how I'm approaching my entire lifestyle change. I can't be in a rush to drop 70 lbs, but my daily routine and changes will accomplish it in time!

Today was a huge improvement. I was shown those floating things you put between your legs where you don't use your legs at all, you use your arms. I did about 3 laps like that and tried it on my own and guess what? 2 back to back 25 yard lengths were the result! I also figured out that I'd get about halfway through a 25 yard length, get tired and begin to panic, and flail. That used up all my energy. The floating things helped me establish a steady rhythm without flailing and using my energy up. The result was me swimming about 250 yards freestyle today! YAY!!!!!!

I know I'll have good days and not so good days but I refuse to give up. Thanks for all of the encouragement! This big girl has a slim fit girl inside chewing her way out....

__steve__
March 31st, 2013, 02:49 PM
Great! Improvements should continue too. Sometimes it takes awhile, but motivation
has its rewards

I was shown those floating things ....
Pull buoy

At this point it would be good to learn the basic fundamentals of proper stroke. Incorrect stroke over time can injure a fresh set of swimming shoulders before realizing it (I did this to my right shoulder the first year because I didn't know), but you are ahead of the game now that you are aware;). For this reason it would be a good idea to have some sort of feedback from coaches or other credible sources.

The pull buoy demonstrates a good example of how you want to keep your pitch of travel - flat as possible is the most streamlined. When balanced with proper stroke, your feet should kick in the same path of travel you swim through. Rotate each stroke from the entire torso (both shoulders and hips). When you breathe, just rotate the head until your mouth surfaces, try to keep the entire axis on the same line from head to your pointed toes (This part was the toughest for me to learn). Drills are useful at any time, later on fins can be a good tool too.

Congrats!

harleycodr
April 2nd, 2013, 03:26 PM
I tried using some fins this morning too - I have a post on the thread called "fins" and am afraid I felt like I was cheating. I was across the 25 yard pool in 20 seconds!!! I feel like the fins stabilized my body and made me nice and flat - but is it cheating? I was still breathing hard and working out...

StewartACarroll
April 2nd, 2013, 06:11 PM
I tried using some fins this morning too - I have a post on the thread called "fins" and am afraid I felt like I was cheating. I was across the 25 yard pool in 20 seconds!!! I feel like the fins stabilized my body and made me nice and flat - but is it cheating? I was still breathing hard and working out...

Its only cheating if you try entering a race with the fins. Otherwise it's definitely not cheating and a good method of improving parts of your stroke. Many other swiming tools/toys enable you to concentrate on particular parts of your stroke, and overall make you a better swimmer.

harleycodr
April 4th, 2013, 01:01 PM
Today I used agility paddles as well - they really helped correct my arm strokes (I was rushing my right stroke after breathing). I am turning things around rapidly. I did one lap of breast stroke to warm up, 10 laps of freestyle, and then one lap of breast stroke to cool down. I did the freestyle with and without fins, and with and without hand paddles. I'm using the fins and paddles to build my stamina and keep my water position correct. One swimmer remarked how good my stroke looked so I'm definitely getting there! I did one full lap of freestyle (with the fins) without a stop and almost died but I made it!

nkfrench
April 7th, 2013, 02:16 PM
When I was learning to swim, I had a breakthrough day when I realized I was swimming too hard, holding my breath too long and with all my muscles tensed up. I was also not doing a full exhale so I wasn't getting enough air while breathing. I went from barely surviving 25 yards to easily swimming a mile over the course of that one swim session. Perhaps you will have a similar breakthrough.

From your responses about the pull-buoy and fins, it does sound like you are using a lot of leg energy to swim with sub-optimal body position (sinking legs).

Fins are great fun and can be useful. You shouldn't be dependent upon them, but otherwise they have a legitimate place in swim workouts.

harleycodr
June 14th, 2013, 11:36 AM
Hi all -
I wanted to look back at this thread from 2 months ago. This week, something amazing happened to my freestyle. I had a drill to do 100 yards of it. OMG. I decied to alternate the 25s with fs and breast stroke but then found that no, I think I had that...I am very happy to say that I can do a 50 of freestyle now without feeling like I am going to die! 2 months ago I could barely get across the 25 yards, so this is good. I think my weight loss is freeing up 'space' in my chest cavity so I can breathe better too (down almost 23 lbs so far). I'm keeping up the swimming and feeling so much better!!!!!!!!! I've learned to pace myself so I don't wear out and someone in my swim class was commenting about how smooth my freestyle is and it looks effortless. I'm learning the butterfly now - that doesn't :cheerleader:' exhaust me as much as freestyle in an 'air deprived' way; but it sure burns my arms (a good thing!)

norascats
June 14th, 2013, 12:29 PM
Breathe. Blow out hard and slow down when you feel tired. If you concentrate on the out breath, you will get through. Also learn how to glide on each stroke.

orca1946
June 14th, 2013, 02:43 PM
Glad swimming is getting better/more fun for you. Keep it going! Join a Masters team soon .

harleycodr
June 14th, 2013, 02:56 PM
Maybe I will!!!! :-) I'm so glad I returned to the pool. It is really strenghtening my core and I can handle my Harley a lot better as a result!

harleycodr
June 16th, 2013, 02:43 PM
Today was big. I did 100 yards of freestyle without a stop! No Defibrillators (sp?) were required either!

I've made great strides! And my weight has diminished by almost 23 lbs....

ekw
June 16th, 2013, 04:51 PM
Today was big. I did 100 yards of freestyle without a stop! No Defibrillators (sp?) were required either!

I've made great strides! And my weight has diminished by almost 23 lbs....

Awesome! :cheerleader:

arthur
June 17th, 2013, 10:46 AM
Today was big. I did 100 yards of freestyle without a stop! No Defibrillators (sp?) were required either!

I've made great strides! And my weight has diminished by almost 23 lbs....
I think you have crossed a threshold where you will be able rapidly increase how far you can swim. You should try this program, zero to 1650 in 6 weeks: http://ruthkazez.com/ZeroTo1mile.html

harleycodr
June 17th, 2013, 10:58 AM
Whoa that looks scarily intense....I like my heart rate to drop below 100 in between my sets...I bookmarked it and will discuss it with my deck coach - she got really scared one time when my face turned bright red after a rather intense set about 6 weeks ago...I'm excited that I made a stride so suddenly!

harleycodr
June 18th, 2013, 01:39 PM
Rethinking now that maybe I **should** work on that...this morning, my deck coach challenged me to do absolutely the minimum amount of breast stroke and concentrate on freestyle only. She threw in 3 100s. I decided okay, no breast stroke unless I feel like I'm going to die. That feeling never came, so I stepped up to the challenge and ran with it! My warm down was 200; I broke it into two more 100s. I am feeling very accomplished today. Next: She's going to get me off my nose clip. I have a nose clip that doesn't completely keep the water out of my nose so I have to blow out - I'm going to use that as my training wheel. I will be able to use my air a lot more efficiently without my darn nose clip! (45 years of swimming with one...)

moodyrichardson
June 19th, 2013, 11:29 AM
That nose clip may be why you use so much energy. I had to use one for a while, with a sinus infection, and it nearly killed me! I think once you ditch it, you'll see a big difference. Note~I still use one for my backstroke races to stay under longer after the walls.

harleycodr
June 19th, 2013, 11:40 AM
Yes, I agree Cheryl. I think that it is hindering my air intake/efficiency by about half. If I get to blow out while in the water and be 'empty and ready for a big breath' when I breathe, I think I'll be able to really build up my endurance!!!

harleycodr
April 2nd, 2014, 01:29 PM
Wow - looking back at how I struggled - today I broke a record and did 1000 yards non stop freestyle. I hit my groove and just went for it!!!!!!!!!!

flystorms
April 3rd, 2014, 11:42 AM
Wahoo!!! SOunds like you're making great progress and identifying what may have been holding you back. Keep up the great work!

harleycodr
April 3rd, 2014, 12:03 PM
Wahoo!!! SOunds like you're making great progress and identifying what may have been holding you back. Keep up the great work!

Thanks! I just kept at it and kept at it. I feel like a completely different person than I did this time last year (42 lbs ago). Now I'm out of the pool until my new tattoo heals (sigh) but I'll do brisk walking and cycling. A guy I swim with maintains it takes one year to get "The Lungs." I think that's about right! Thank you for the kind words!