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Karl_S
April 9th, 2014, 02:11 PM
After being "spoken to" by the lifeguards about training SDKs, I am wondering how dangerous it really is to do multiple full 25 SCY SDKs.

Consider this set:
Fins on.
10x[
25 SDK on belly +
25 free ez +
25 SDK on back -(or until you can no longer keep the water from flooding your nose) +
25 bk ez]/2:00

This is just an example. Basically I'm referring to any set that contains multiple full 25 SDKs on a fixed time interval.

I've seen multiple people post sets like this in their blogs.
I've heard that on some age group teams the coach will demand that swimmers complete N full 25 SDKs on some fixed interval or everyone does it over.
The above observations would suggest that training full 25 SCY SDKs is a reasonable thing to do, but I've talked to some coaches and guards who seem to genuinely believe that even going past mid-pool underwater is just asking for trouble.

For a reasonably fit masters or age-group swimmer (Let's say a "BB" or stronger swimmer between the ages of 10 and 70 who can comfortably train 4x1hr/week), what do you think:



-Sets like these are generally safe as long as you don't do something stupid, like intentionally hyperventilate to the point of making yourself light headed before your push-off.
-Sets like this are generally safe, but you can never know if you have an un-diagnosed medical condition that renders them very dangerous so you shouldn't do them.
-Such sets are a little risky, but it's a risk you have to take to get really good at SDKs.
-If you do this kind of training regularly, you will eventually pass out under water and possibly die.
-The modern world is sufficiently rampant with litigation that no one can admit that sets like these are safe, even as anonymous vote on this forum.

sunruh
April 9th, 2014, 02:43 PM
karl,
underwaters are highly personal.
some can do them with ease and others cannot.
my only recommendation is do what you are comfortable doing and dont take stupid risks. (and by you i mean the swimming community).
dont push others to try and make it if they simply cannot.
even on breath control sets. do what you can do and dont push others.
as an example, i can make 25s pretty easy (thanks mark and those firestone 500s we did in the dive tank) and breath sets have no issue taking 1 breath for a 50. one guy on my team, we'll call him tom, cannot do that. so even though the written set says take only 3. i take just 1 and he gets my extra 2. i am safe and tom is safe. both doing what we can safely do.

steve

p.s. and yes i have pushed myself in the past (and also as a masters) on how far i can go. but ive never thought i was in danger. however i wasnt so stupid to think i could make it past the turn at the 75 all under either!

Allen Stark
April 9th, 2014, 04:06 PM
I believe 25s underwater are reasonably safe for a proficient swimmer.If they are taking less than 20 sec and you haven't hyperventilated you should be well within safe parameters.Past 25s,or with slower swimmers I think one wold be pushing there luck.Also,if you are underwater and feel the urge to breathe,don't fight it,come up and breathe.

knelson
April 9th, 2014, 04:07 PM
karl,
underwaters are highly personal.
some can do them with ease and others cannot.

I think this is really the key. Pool staff hate people doing underwaters because they really don't know who knows what they're doing and who could potential push it too far.

arthur
April 9th, 2014, 04:07 PM
Coached breath control sets can be more safe with other people in your lane who will notice if something is wrong in a fraction of a minute. Fast 25 SDKs with fins that are completed in less than 15 seconds on 30+ seconds rest I think are as safe as any set. 25s and further distances that take someone a lot longer are probably less safe. Saying going past half way is asking for trouble I think is ridiculous for the vast majority of masters swimmers.

Rob Copeland
April 9th, 2014, 04:35 PM
After being "spoken to" by the lifeguards about training SDKs, I am wondering how dangerous it really is to do multiple full 25 SCY SDKs.According to experts shallow water blackout is the #1 cause of swimming related deaths in physically fit swimmers. So if death is on the "dangerous" side of the ledger, then yes, SDK 25’s can be dangerous.

http://shallowwaterblackoutprevention.org/

Jimbosback
April 9th, 2014, 04:41 PM
According to experts shallow water blackout is the #1 cause of swimming related deaths in physically fit swimmers. So if death is on the "dangerous" side of the ledger, then yes, SDK 25’s can be dangerous.

http://shallowwaterblackoutprevention.org/


The web site does not assign a time to 'prolonged.' I do a few different underwater 25s sets, the slowest of which takes 22 sec, and the fastest of which takes16 or so.

Dangerous?

gobears
April 9th, 2014, 05:56 PM
I know I coach with a "breathe when you need to" policy because I really don't want to have to get in to rescue you! Each person has their own tolerance level. I consider all my swimmers alive and breathing a good thing... :)

Karl_S
April 9th, 2014, 10:52 PM
Thanks for the thoughtful replies.

sunruh writes:

... do what you are comfortable doing... yes i have pushed myself in the past (and also as a masters) on how far i can go. but ive never thought i was in danger. however i wasnt so stupid to think i could make it past the turn at the 75 all under either!
When I was in HS the PE teacher had a (probably ill-advised) "let's see who can swim the farthest under water" contest. As a long time age-group and HS swimmer I knew 25 was easy. Most kids weren't making it 25 so I figured winning would be easy. Then, total surprise, some kid, NOT on the swim team, NOT super-jock, did 50 SCY. As a swim team member I knew I could not let that stand. I did a 50, turned under water, pushed off and came up just past the flags. A couple of times I felt my diaphragm "jump". I started to get tunnel vision and I was slightly convulsing at the end. It scared the $%#& out of me. For years after that I would not even attempt a 25, not even a no-breather on the surface. When I do 25s SDKs now, they aren't comfortable, but I don't feel anything like I did that day in HS. I'm figure I'm quite safe. With all the hysteria about this today, now I'm wondering if I am kidding myself.

BTW, fins off I am taking ~26s. fins on I'm taking about 17s. I get ~45s rest on the set mentioned in the OP.

knelson
April 9th, 2014, 11:12 PM
Since the longest you can stay underwater in a (non-breaststroke) race is 15 meters, does it really make a lot of sense to do underwater 25s?

By the way, my team does underwater 25 kicks and I hate them. :)

ourswimmer
April 10th, 2014, 12:11 AM
Since the longest you can stay underwater in a (non-breaststroke) race is 15 meters, does it really make a lot of sense to do underwater 25s?

I think this question gets to the real point. I do shooters with and without fins very regularly, but one of the points of doing them for me is to know just where the 15m mark is. Because I dabble in the 50 back, I care both about how to SDK well and also about when to stop.

If I raced the 50 free or the 50 fly I might practice my intended breathing pattern from time to time. But I don't race those events, and aside from such practice I see no point in face-down efforts without breathing. To the contrary, because I race pretty much only 100s and up in face-down events, and because the shortest of those events still take slow-twitch me about a minute at best, I see far more point in practicing efficient breathing technique than in practicing holding my breath. If I want to practice keeping my head still I can put on my snorkel.

One of our assistant coaches assigns "breath control" sets pretty often and I always tell her that I refuse on principle to do them.

Karl_S
April 10th, 2014, 07:57 AM
I think this question gets to the real point. I do shooters with and without fins very regularly, but one of the points of doing them for me is to know just where the 15m mark is. Because I dabble in the 50 back, I care both about how to SDK well and also about when to stop.

If I raced the 50 free or the 50 fly I might practice my intended breathing pattern from time to time. But I don't race those events, and aside from such practice I see no point in face-down efforts without breathing. To the contrary, because I race pretty much only 100s and up in face-down events, and because the shortest of those events still take slow-twitch me about a minute at best, I see far more point in practicing efficient breathing technique than in practicing holding my breath. If I want to practice keeping my head still I can put on my snorkel.

One of our assistant coaches assigns "breath control" sets pretty often and I always tell her that I refuse on principle to do them.
Agree!

Breath control sets generally seem to me to have little value. Exceptions:
1) Training yourself to not breath until N strokes after the breakout. I'm convinced not breathing on the breakout stroke is faster. If you are going to do this in a race, you need to train it in practice. I essentially never breathe on the breakout stroke in fly or free unless the total distance is 500+.
2) Breathing alternate sides in freestyle. This helps smooth out the stroke. As an added benefit it gives you the ability to check out where your competitors are. I'm not saying we should breathe every three all the time, but it's great practice and we can all benefit from being good at it when we want to do it.
3) Low breath count sprints. For freestyle races that are not dominated by the aerobic energy system (50s and 25s) the cost of oxygen deprivation would appear to be compensated for by the speed benefit of not breathing. This should be practiced.

Karl_S
April 10th, 2014, 07:59 AM
Since the longest you can stay underwater in a (non-breaststroke) race is 15 meters, does it really make a lot of sense to do underwater 25s?
What about the principle of overload, that without overload there is no (or minimal) growth?


By the way, my team does underwater 25 kicks and I hate them. :)
Yes, they are awful. Perhaps I am subconsciously looking for an excuse to forget about them.

sunruh
April 10th, 2014, 08:25 AM
By the way, my team does underwater 25 kicks and I hate them. :)

my team does a kick set, instead i do underwaters :D

Jimbosback
April 10th, 2014, 11:01 AM
Since the longest you can stay underwater in a (non-breaststroke) race is 15 meters, does it really make a lot of sense to do underwater 25s?

By the way, my team does underwater 25 kicks and I hate them. :)

I do underwater DS breaststroke. It really helps with my feel for the water and timing. I also do dolphin kicks, and I think that the last few kicks that get me to the wall really help. I can finish 25 easily, and I let my respiration rate come down in between reps. This thread is still making me second guess something I have done for years.

Is swimming 25 fly without breathing the same thing?

trexleradam
April 10th, 2014, 11:06 AM
My understanding is that there isn't the same principle of overload, because the issue isn't muscle strength so much as tolerance of CO2.
What about the principle of overload, that without overload there is no (or minimal) growth?


Yes, they are awful. Perhaps I am subconsciously looking for an excuse to forget about them.

Karl_S
April 10th, 2014, 11:16 AM
My understanding is that there isn't the same principle of overload, because the issue isn't muscle strength so much as tolerance of CO2.
I'm not sure. For a 25 SCY SDK, especially with fins, I think muscle strength/endurance is at least equal to, if not more limiting than, CO2 tolerance for me.

knelson
April 10th, 2014, 11:43 AM
It's going to be a lot easier to push off from the wall and kick out 15 meters after you've rested in practice than it is when you are fatigued and oxygen-starved during a race. I think that much is a given. If there's an argument for doing underwater kicks for a full 25 yards I think it's because you need to do something much more difficult in a workout to get close to the same "feel" as you'd have during a race.

sunruh
April 10th, 2014, 12:06 PM
i think its called lactic acid buildup

Karl_S
April 10th, 2014, 12:07 PM
It's going to be a lot easier to push off from the wall and kick out 15 meters after you've rested in practice than it is when you are fatigued and oxygen-starved during a race. I think that much is a given. If there's an argument for doing underwater kicks for a full 25 yards I think it's because you need to do something much more difficult in a workout to get close to the same "feel" as you'd have during a race.
good point. It never ceases to astound me when I watch someone do ca 8 SDKs off the last wall in a 200 back! Sometimes I am so starved for oxygen at that point it takes all the will power I can muster just to put my head under for a flip turn, let alone a long kickout.

ande
April 10th, 2014, 03:57 PM
You're doing SDKs with FINS.
You're not holding your breath for that long and you're resting after each effort.

What's the big deal?

Sounds like the guards don't want to:
+ have to rescue you,
+ get out of their chairs, or
+ write a report.

Kevin in MD
April 10th, 2014, 04:00 PM
I'm on the lifeguards side here. Every year we lose a few healthy swimmers to shallow water blackout. Last one at NBAC here in Baltimore last year and I saw there was another a week or two ago. http://www.independent.com/news/2014/apr/02/remembering-nick-johnson/

You say you feel fine and that's the key kinda, that's what makes it dangerous, in shallow water blackout you feel fine until you just blackout. You can deplete your CO2 in your blood before the swim and train yourself to withstand more CO2 buildup. Enough so that you will stay under past the point where your O2 is depleted.

That's kinda the key mechanism, CO2 buildup makes you surface, not O2 depletion. You don't sense O2 depletion but that is what will kill you.

So in the end, with partners or as part of a coached workout, fine. On your own with no one else paying attention, so such a hot idea. The risk percentage might be relatively low but the consequences are as high as can be.

gobears
April 10th, 2014, 04:06 PM
Sounds like the guards don't want to:
+ have to rescue you,
+ get out of their chairs, or
+ write a report.

Your words make it sound like the guards are being lazy. IMO, not wanting to have to rescue someone from a potentially deadly situation is not lazy - it might just be thoughtful prevention of a potentially hazardous situation.

knelson
April 10th, 2014, 04:31 PM
IMO, not wanting to have to rescue someone from a potentially deadly situation is not lazy

Agree 100%. Part of a guard's job is ensuring he/she doesn't need to get out of that chair.

Chris Stevenson
April 10th, 2014, 05:56 PM
my team does a kick set, instead i do underwaters :D

And I bet you get a better workout from the set.

Most of the posters to the thread seem to assume that the main point of doing underwaters is to improve breath control. IMO that's at best a secondary goal; the primary goal is to improve speed and endurance of your underwater kicking. Once you're on the surface you're not kicking as hard.

Even in theory I don't think you work your legs as hard on the surface as when underwater, and in practice the disparity is even greater b/c swimmers tend to use kick sets as recovery between swim sets and this tendency is more pronounced when you are using a kick board and chatting with others.

But of course to work on underwaters you have to actually BE underwater so hence the need for breath control...

As far as the question asked by the thread title: sunruh is right again that it is very individual. So what follows is true FOR ME and your mileage may vary. I am not tall and have average/small sized hands and feet...but I *have* been blessed with floppy ankles and a high lung capacity.

For me the risk of doing a 25 underwater with plenty of rest is pretty much zero unless I smack my head on the wall or something. I could do 25 underwaters at 7 years old before I even started swimming year-round, and can still do 50 no-breathers, so it is hard to take seriously the notion that death can result from a 25 no-breather unless I am already pretty short of breath.

If you do many of them and don't recover between them, certainly the risk is there. But I don't see what is so magical about the 15m barrier that some propose as the limit, either: that's pretty far out there, farther than most people do in practice or in races. It is not hard to imagine sets in which someone -- anyone -- struggles to reach 15m on each repeat.

If you want to work on underwater kicking in a serious manner -- more than 1-2 kicks off the walls -- there is no safe distance. So it becomes a matter of not ignoring warning signs or doing something stupid. For me the warning sign is a need to pee (which I never give into, of course!), which occurs before any spots or narrowing of vision or diaphragm spasms.

Karl_S
April 11th, 2014, 02:17 PM
Chris Stevenson writes:

...
If you want to work on underwater kicking in a serious manner -- more than 1-2 kicks off the walls -- there is no safe distance. So it becomes a matter of not ignoring warning signs or doing something stupid. For me the warning sign is a need to pee (which I never give into, of course!), which occurs before any spots or narrowing of vision or diaphragm spasms.

But Kevin in Md:

You say you feel fine and that's the key kinda, that's what makes it dangerous, in shallow water blackout you feel fine until you just blackout.



So is Chris kidding himself? If we can't go by "feel" because we are going to be feeling fine and then simply black out, (i.e. there are no "warning signs") then practicing SDK is pretty scary business. Since it is cold water not breath control that makes me feel like I need to pee, it seems that the best warning sign is wanting to breathe. Well that's silly. I feel like I "need to breathe" pretty much all the time at swim practice!

Now I know it is stupid to intentionally hyperventilate, but if I just finished a hard effort obviously I am going to breathe hard while I recover, and unless I don't do another effort until the next day, I'm obviously not going to be *completely* recovered before my next SDK effort. Furthermore, of course I am going to take a great big gulp of air before I push off. Just before my flip turn in a backstroke race I grab the biggest breath I can too. Now am I supposed to believe that this is dangerous and I should not take a big breath before my turn? Right. if you say that I am suspecting that you are just looking for ways to disadvantage your competitors, while you fully plan to breathe all you want yourself.

Rob Copeland
April 11th, 2014, 03:05 PM
So is Chris kidding himself? No, just playing the odds. But if you listen to Bob Bowman (NBAC) 1 shallow water blackout death is too many. I heard Bowman talk about having to pick up Louis Lowenthal’s gear bag from the pool deck and return it to Louis' parents. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

For me it’s less about guys like Chris who know what they’re doing and more about the people who see Chris and try to imitate or beat him.

Allen Stark
April 11th, 2014, 03:46 PM
Shallow water drowning is a possibility and a tragedy.It is a good idea to not do underwaters without someone trained watching you.Never go more than 25,never stay under once you want to breathe,never ever hyperventilate before underwaters.
That said,I am sticking with my statement that 25s underwater are reasonably safe for a competent competative swimmer.
It is true that the urge to breathe is hypercapnea(too much CO2 in the blood) and not anoxia(too little oxegen in the blood).Under most circumstances the 2 are very closely linked,but hyperventilation decreases CO2 without increasing O2 so that you start off with a potentially fatal imbalance as tou swim underwater.Breathing hard after a hard swim isn't hyperventilating,as long as you are doing so"naturally",in other words,your body is telling you to breath hard.If you continue to breath hard intentionally after the urge is gone,that is hyperventilating and don't do it before underwaters.

gobears
April 11th, 2014, 05:28 PM
Really interesting (and sad) discussion: http://swimmingcoach.org/online-education/bowman-shallow-water/

Here is the "round table" discussion Bowman is talking about:
http://legacy.mbrook.com/NbacShallowWaterBlackout.html

fdtotten
April 11th, 2014, 05:53 PM
No, just playing the odds. But if you listen to Bob Bowman (NBAC) 1 shallow water blackout death is too many. I heard Bowman talk about having to pick up Louis Lowenthal’s gear bag from the pool deck and return it to Louis' parents. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

For me it’s less about guys like Chris who know what they’re doing and more about the people who see Chris and try to imitate or beat him.

I enjoy reading how swimmers like Chris train as well as to observe the local superstar high school swimmers in our local USAS swim clubs during their workout sessions.

Self perception and "Common sense" are not always so clear in every circumstance. It is my belief that hypoxic training in swimming is basically not safe and should least be done supervised or observed. I believe for myself that most forms of hypoxic type swimming done when rested that 25 yards or less seems to be a low risk of hypoxia. But from my few experiences attempting multiple repeats, intervals, or longer swims with ongoing restricted breathing via underwater SDKS and/or reduced number of breathers per length, I learned instantly that kind of hypoxic training is very uncomfortable, and there are other higher priority training activities. For me, doing some rested hypoxic training activity of short durations with full recovery (HR under 100) seems manageable at my current age. I also anticipate my "hypoxic" capacity will continue to degrade as I get older. Even with doing fast swim training at close to maximum heart rates, I have learned that I must manage how "hard" and often I repeat the "high" HR efforts.

poolraat
April 11th, 2014, 07:04 PM
Since I do most of my training alone and I'm not sure the lifeguards are always that alert (most are high school kids) I do a very limited amount of underwater and hypoxic training. Most of my sdk practice is to mid-pool (10-12 yards) only and usually with a long interval, 45+ sec/25. If I do hypoxic breathing, which I seldom do, it's never more than 1 breath/5 strokes with distance mostly 25's and occasionally 50's. I don't see a lot of value in hypoxic training, at least for my training, and though my backstroke could benefit from a longer underwater pullout I'm not comfortable doing a lot of unsupervised underwater training.

secondheart
April 11th, 2014, 09:37 PM
In 1977 I was in a run/swim competition (yes the run was first). About 100 yards from shore I picked up my head to spot the finish and a guard (on a board) asked me if I was okay, I replied "I'm fine". I passed out about 10 yards later. My issue was heart related, my point is that when you become oxygen deprived your brain isn't functioning correctly. You can't depend on your brain giving you "warning signls".

__steve__
April 11th, 2014, 11:19 PM
Blackout happens unexpectedly when the CNS assumes blood CO2 is at a safe concentration when it isn't. Avoiding deep breathing, hyperventilating, or even heavy breathing after efforts, and resting sufficiently is the protocol I use for hypoxic sets. For me, the need to pee is probably10 meters shy of blackout. I also get teeth pain along with it.

sunruh
April 12th, 2014, 10:13 AM
How do you know its 10m shy? Have you blacked out?

this sounds very scary to me and i can go pretty darn far uw

Allen Stark
April 12th, 2014, 10:24 AM
How do you know its 10m shy? Have you blacked out?

this sounds very scary to me and i can go pretty darn far uw

Agreed.This sounds like you have an early warning system that only has to fail once for disaster. Please don't go more than 25 underwater.

__steve__
April 12th, 2014, 10:45 AM
Never blacked out. Just tried to illustrate the problem with doing hypoxic swimming dangerously by hyperventilating or by being unrested. This is supposed to block any warning signals

Chris Stevenson
April 12th, 2014, 11:58 AM
Not trying to minimize the issue, but risk assessment/perception is a tricky thing. Probably the riskiest thing any of us do is get behind the wheel of a car. Driving above the speed limit demonstrably increases that risk but many do it without a second thought. Taking your eyes off the road to change the radio station (much less, God forbid, text someone) is likely significantly riskier than doing 25s underwater.

I have never seen someone die of shallow-water blackout but I have seen two people die (literally, not figuratively) just after a 200 fly race. Not to mention other races. Should I never do another meet again? We choose to exercise in a medium that can kill us if something goes wrong, wouldn't it be safer to run on a treadmill instead?

My point is that there is almost nothing that is risk free and each of us does his/her own risk-benefit calculus, often sub-consciously, before engaging in such behavior. If I had to guess at the top three risky behaviors I do, underwaters wouldn't even make the list (for the record, I'd guess them to be, in order: bike riding, driving, and over-indulging my sweet tooth). Others may come to a different conclusion for themselves.

And coaches have a whole different set of worries. If I were a coach I have no doubt I would not ever ask someone to go past 15m underwater, and even then I'd be cautious. When I was in college I heard of coaches who would DEMAND that the whole team do 50s no-breathers. Those days are gone I think.

secondheart
April 12th, 2014, 02:14 PM
Didn't mean to scare anyone just inform. My experience is obviously very rare and it happned because I was very dumb. I ran 3 miles in extreme heat (I'm not a good runner) and swam in 85+ degree water. At the time I was an elite swimmer and believed myself to be invulnerable to passing out in the water and drowning.

The risk of doing short underwater swims would seem to be extremely small but if you think you are invulnerable you may extend the length and unknowingly increase the odds. Also, please don't use the "pee indicator" as a standard for protection.:) (javascript:void(0))

dumbunny
April 12th, 2014, 11:57 PM
I add a 25 fly after my underwaters rather than a 25 EZ. For me, knowing that I have a lap of butterfly to go keeps me well below the pee zone.

Karl_S
May 6th, 2014, 05:04 PM
Here is a set that was posted on Swimswam for working underwaters:
SET #2: “SHOOTERS”:

(typically done with fins, though sometimes without)
14-20 x 25 @ :35
1 underwater, 1 however you want
2 underwater, 1 however you want
3 underwater, 1 however you want
4 underwater, 1 however you want
(5 underwater, 1 however you want)

Here is the link to the full article:
http://swimswam.com/training-spotlight-vinny-marciano-al-ledgin-morris-county-swimming/

Ok, so this set looks like it would be classified as insanely dangerous by at least some folks, so why is an age group team doing it? Are they lying and just trying to intimidate the competition? I doubt it. Ok, so you say, well those are really great age groupers, some of whom contend for NAG records so it is ok for them to do it- they are experts. Well yes, but clearly they had to start from someplace much less proficient than that, so how did they get to point of doing this set without *attempting* this set? Of course I know the answer, they built up gradually, but I can only assume that they must have pushed their limits very very hard many many times to get there. In my experience, the only way to get better at anything, is to push your limit very hard over and over and over again. The only reasonable conclusion I can reach is that such pushing must be a reasonably safe thing to do. Am I wrong?

I think this issue goes well beyond Karl working on his underwaters. If I am correct, that practicing SCY 25 SDKs is reasonably safe, then there must be some other reason that a few, but non-zero number of people are suffering shallow water blackout. Instead of saying that practicing SDK is dangerous and we should not go past mid pool, I think we (the swimming community) ought to figure out what is really leading to those cases of shallow water blackout so that we can prevent it, instead of making blanket statements that one should not ever swim underwater past mid pool (or past the flags if certain lifeguards are to believed).

habu987
May 7th, 2014, 02:28 PM
Here is a set that was posted on Swimswam for working underwaters:
SET #2: “SHOOTERS”:

(typically done with fins, though sometimes without)
14-20 x 25 @ :35
1 underwater, 1 however you want
2 underwater, 1 however you want
3 underwater, 1 however you want
4 underwater, 1 however you want
(5 underwater, 1 however you want)

Here is the link to the full article:
http://swimswam.com/training-spotlight-vinny-marciano-al-ledgin-morris-county-swimming/

Ok, so this set looks like it would be classified as insanely dangerous by at least some folks, so why is an age group team doing it? Are they lying and just trying to intimidate the competition? I doubt it. Ok, so you say, well those are really great age groupers, some of whom contend for NAG records so it is ok for them to do it- they are experts. Well yes, but clearly they had to start from someplace much less proficient than that, so how did they get to point of doing this set without *attempting* this set? Of course I know the answer, they built up gradually, but I can only assume that they must have pushed their limits very very hard many many times to get there. In my experience, the only way to get better at anything, is to push your limit very hard over and over and over again. The only reasonable conclusion I can reach is that such pushing must be a reasonably safe thing to do. Am I wrong?

I think this issue goes well beyond Karl working on his underwaters. If I am correct, that practicing SCY 25 SDKs is reasonably safe, then there must be some other reason that a few, but non-zero number of people are suffering shallow water blackout. Instead of saying that practicing SDK is dangerous and we should not go past mid pool, I think we (the swimming community) ought to figure out what is really leading to those cases of shallow water blackout so that we can prevent it, instead of making blanket statements that one should not ever swim underwater past mid pool (or past the flags if certain lifeguards are to believed).

As a swimmer and coach (both for Masters and USA-S), I have no problems with underwaters, and have done similar sets to this one before, as well as have given my Masters swimmers similar, but shorter sets. The key, in my experience, is to know your limits. If you get to the point where it hurts to continue underwater (diaphragm is jumping, tunnel vision, etc), GET TO THE SURFACE. I keep a very close watch on my swimmers when I have them do underwaters or breath control sets, and believe that when done reasonably and under careful supervision, they're no dangerous than any other set we do.

Examples of breath control/underwater sets I've had them do:

8 x 25 on :35 - underwater
8 x 50 on 1:00 - free swim, taking no more than 8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1 breaths per 50
12 x 50 on :55 - under/over

On any breath control/underwater set, I encourage them to make it the whole way underwater or to hold the breathing pattern, but emphasize that if they need to take a breath before the end of the lap/50, to go ahead and take the breath. When done responsibly and under careful supervision, I don't see breath control/underwater sets being any more inherently dangerous than any other set. Yes, there are some people who have blacked out and possibly drowned while doing a breath control set. On the other hand, there are people who've had heart attacks after competing in a race. Heck, there was one swimmer on my team (at a practice I was swimming at, not coaching) who had a heart attack during the relatively tame main set.

Swimming carries an inherent risk of danger, no matter what set or distance you're swimming, or where you're swimming it. Common sense, responsibility, and proper supervision can mitigate many of those risks. As a coach and a swimmer, I am absolutely comfortable with swimming and coaching breath control/underwater sets and have no compunctions about having myself and my swimmers do underwater 25s or engage in extended breathing patterns.

habu987
May 7th, 2014, 02:37 PM
As an aside, back in the day when I swam age group, an underwater 50 was a pretty common get out swim for us. I only ever had to do it as a get out swim twice, but I've done many more underwater 50s over the years, and have pushed myself further than that before to see how far I could go (I hit about 65 yards before I started to get tunnel vision and came up). All those underwater swims have been under careful supervision and relied on us knowing our limits, and I don't know of any times that people blacked out.

On the other end of the spectrum, going back to the early 90s, I remember the collegiate swimmer brother of my summer league team's coach trying to do a no breath 100 fly and passing out at the 80 yard mark. His brother and the lifeguard jumped in to pull him out. Within 10 minutes or so, he was back on his feet and walking around. I don't think anyone is proposing doing a harebrained, dangerous breath control stunt like that, but responsible, proper supervision and common sense approaches to breath control can take a lot of the risk out of the sets.

sunruh
May 7th, 2014, 02:49 PM
this morning we did 25under25swim 50s lcm

i may have legally cheated and done 30under and 20swim :D

Chris Stevenson
May 7th, 2014, 04:32 PM
Here is a set that was posted on Swimswam for working underwaters:
SET #2: “SHOOTERS”:

(typically done with fins, though sometimes without)
14-20 x 25 @ :35
1 underwater, 1 however you want
2 underwater, 1 however you want
3 underwater, 1 however you want
4 underwater, 1 however you want
(5 underwater, 1 however you want)

Here is the link to the full article:
http://swimswam.com/training-spotlight-vinny-marciano-al-ledgin-morris-county-swimming/

Ok, so this set looks like it would be classified as insanely dangerous by at least some folks, so why is an age group team doing it?

It just doesn't look that bad to me, especially with fins. Also it has an "out" in that if you can't make an earlier set (e.g. 3 under waters) you don't (or shouldn't) try to make a later set.

Having said that, I know that my son's age group team won't do sets like this, and they are pretty successful. Of course, they also don't produce many people very good at underwaters; in fact I can only think of one.

Redbird Alum
May 8th, 2014, 02:04 PM
IMO... Individuals deciding to take risks on their own is one thing. Coaching others to take risks is another.

I would be interested in knowing what USMS' official position is on even coaching these in an organized USMS practice.