PDA

View Full Version : Setting Reasonable Goals



sarc6fu
February 18th, 2014, 06:15 PM
Hi all, I am joining a masters swim program as a beginner (I know how to swim, just not experienced or good at it yet). I don't know how to go about setting goals and I am hoping that some of you might be willing to offer suggestions. I know that fitness is #1, but if I don't have goals I'll get bored. The trouble is, I have no frame of reference for what my improvement should look like.

For time availability, I can swim up to 5 times per week, 1-2 hours each time (although one hour is more reasonable, I can commit up to two if necessary). I'm tall and skinny and not naturally athletic. Right now I swim a 50 yard free in a minute, which means I'm in great shape for an 85 year old man. I am a 35 year old man though so that's not good. I can only swim at the end of a pretty exhausting day so that will probably negatively impact my abilities.

Assuming working with a talented coach, what are reasonable and appropriate goals? Should I have a goal by the week, month, 3 months, or some other timeframe? For those who have gone through this before (going from non-swimmer to swimmer as an adult, no history), any tips? Approximately how long of dedicated training did it take to reach a good swim time?

Thank you everyone who helps me out in setting some reasonable goals for myself.

ande
February 19th, 2014, 12:54 AM
You swim a 50 in 60 seconds
Focus on getting faster

gobears
February 19th, 2014, 08:30 AM
Hi sarc6fu - I would suggest focusing on technique improvement first and foremost. Listen to your coach and work on the small things (which also may mean learning to relax in the water and to breathe correctly). So much of fast swimming is reducing drag and learning correct technique. Also - be careful upping your practice time/yardage too drastically. You want to ease into increased yardage to avoid injury.

It's difficult to say exactly what your goals should be at this point, but if you concentrate on swimming smarter, you'll get faster!

Karl_S
February 19th, 2014, 08:31 AM
...I know that fitness is #1...
For overall health this is true, but if your goal is to swim faster, I would say that technique is #1, by a wide margin. If you are a generally healthy 35 y.o. male and swim 60s/50yds, it is essentially certain that there is a lot speed to find with stroke improvement. I know a guy who decided to start doing triathlons in mid-life. He told me that when he started he was swimming at about 2:00/100 yds, then he went to a swim clinic and very shortly thereafter was going 1:40/100 yds. Will this happen for you? How long will it take to become "good"? I'm not sure anyone can tell you.


...For time availability, I can swim up to 5 times per week, 1-2 hours each time (although one hour is more reasonable, I can commit up to two if necessary). I'm tall and skinny and not naturally athletic. ...Assuming working with a talented coach, what are reasonable and appropriate goals? Should I have a goal by the week, month, 3 months, or some other timeframe? For those who have gone through this before (going from non-swimmer to swimmer as an adult, no history), any tips? Approximately how long of dedicated training did it take to reach a good swim time?...
I try to have "goals" for almost every practice. Not a goal to swim a personal best time, but something or things I want to accomplish. This might be to swim a set on a tighter interval than ever before, or hit fewer strokes per length than ever before, or hit fewer SPL while making a specific time, or swim more total yards than any day in the past month, or execute some new drill I read about, or simply work out some stiff muscle in my back or whatever. The point is, I try to never do "garbage yardage". I try to make sure every yard I swim has a specific purpose. I swam competitively as a kid so I don't have first-hand experience with what you are about to go through, but I do know that after a 26 year break during which I swam a lot but did no racing, I started trying to go faster again and improved substantially over the ensuing several years. With the kind of time commitment you mention and good coaching, you should improve a lot. Enjoy the journey!

Rob Copeland
February 19th, 2014, 08:42 AM
As a beginner swimmer with fitness as your #1 goal, I’d be more focused on turning swimming into a lifelong exercise habit, but this is more of an objective rather than a goal.

And assuming you have a talented coach, your first goal should be to pay attention to the coach. They are in the best position to assess and improve your swimming.

A second goal is to learn and get comfortable and competent with the basics (the 4 strokes, flip turns, streamlining, dives, kicking, …). This can take 6 months to a year.

Goal 3 – sign-up for USMS Go the Distance, track your training, set distance goals and earn awards!

Again talk to your coach about this, but I wouldn’t suggest a beginner working out more than an hour 3-4 times per week. Too much too early can lead to burn-out and injury. You can work your way up to 2 hours 5 times a week, but it’s better to work your way into it.

And “good swim times” are relative. In today’s society, just swimming 50 free in a minute is a good time. However, if you are interested in competitive goals, then I’d suggest participating in a swim meet after 3 -6 months of training and use these times as a baseline to set future goals.

sarc6fu
February 19th, 2014, 11:34 AM
Thank you all. You've given me some good ideas. Looking forward to the journey.

robertsrobson
February 20th, 2014, 11:28 AM
Hi -

I'd encourage you to focus on technique and behaviours - but be specific.

For example, find maybe 3-4 specific elements of technique and what you need to improve

You can have goals for the actual technical improvement, e.g. improve underwater propulsion by keeping a high elbow, or learn the mechanics of the tumble turn.

Goals for execution of that technical point in practice:
So, for example, "aim to maintain a high elbow on the underwater phase of each stroke - 80% of the time over the next 4 weeks", or "use a tumble turn on every front crawl turn in practice next week"...

Or, purely behavioural goals -
"Attend 16 practices this month", "swim 30k this month" etc, "enter my first masters gala by July".

orca1946
February 21st, 2014, 11:46 PM
Please find a Masters team that will be patient with you as you learn. With the team & fellow swimmers , you will learn how to improve the strokes & get stronger & faster each month & year. I have been swimming since I was 4 years old & at almost 68 , I'm still working on things!