View Full Version : Getting back into it/Getting someone else into it - need advice

August 28th, 2004, 10:32 AM
Hi guys!!

I am new to these boards and was absolutely enthralled to see the workouts day-by-day posted above! I have some questions (of course... what noobie doesnt??) but first I wanted to give a little background. :D I am 26 years old and caught the swimming bug (again) after watching the amazing performances at the olympics. I used to swim competitively for many years for a team called West Florida Lightning Aquatics and then in high school as well. Obviously, its been a few (OK alot) of years since then and the college I work for now doesnt even have a club - let alone a team. The closest Masters group is a good 45min drive from what I can see. (grumble).
Looks like I will be going it alone when I get back in the pool at least for a while. :( Needless to say, after so many years I have forgotten alot (or at least I think I have). Also, my husband has always expressed at least a bit of interest in swimming, but has never been in a competitive environment at all. He is "built like a swimmer" and I would be really interested to see what he could do in the pool. :)

OK- done with my oversharing. :) On to my questions for you guys. I have a few....

Where to start back in to it? What kind of workout should I be looking at for my first few weeks back in the pool?

What kind of dry land training do you do/reccomend? We have been going to the gym and working mostly with free weights, but what sort of excersizes are best to build up speed/efficiency?

What sort of workout should my husband be doing? He does not know how to do butterfly or flip turns yet.

Can he get away with wearing a baggy, recreational swim suit for at least a while until he knows he wants to continue? I dont want to have to buy a suit he might not use, but if its neccesary, will.

Are kickboards, pull buoys, fins and paddles neccesary?

Thank you so much in advance for any advice you can give us!

Matt S
August 28th, 2004, 12:47 PM

Welcome back to the club. It may seem like it's been a long time for you, but actually you're coming back pretty young. Just check out the times from the last USMS Nationals, and you will see the 20's age groups still have fewer total swimmers than the 30s and even the 40's, and the winning and 10th place times actually tend to get a little faster in the older age groups. Congratulate yourself on your head start.

Just a couple of observations: First, realize that the primary obstacle to sticking with a swimming program is boredom. I can't say for sure why you have come back to swimming. I know I am in this so I can enjoy working out, and competing, for then next 40 or more years of my life. This differs from how I approached HS and college swimming, when I was trying to lower my PRs as much as possible in say the next 4 months.

This key truth, for me at any rate, leads to a number of other observations: Second, find a USMS club, or congenial group of people who will work out with you, as soon as possible. Don't worry about you, or your husband, being "good enough." You are just fine just as you are. Any club I've ever joined or considered joining has swimmers of all abilities. Having a set of friends whose company you enjoy, who will come up with new and different practices you would not otherwise try, whose expectation to see you there will cause you to come when you would otherwise blow off a workout on your own, will keep you swimming long after you have given up on working out on your own. Please reply to this post, and tell us where exactly in FL you live. You will be surprised how many other USMS teams will pop out of the woodwork.

Third, beware of training with too much intensity. You are probably in this for the long haul, or longer than when you were in HS. I am a little wary of lifting weights as the only dry land addition to your swimming routine. If you overload with weights the same muscles you use to swim, on a marginally older body, you may set yourself up for injury. Most folks need flexibility, not strength. Consider yoga or pilates. Also, scale your swimming workout routine to something you can sustain and enjoy for months at a time. Maybe you used to do 2 workouts/day. With a real, grown-up's schedule, you probably can't do than now without neglecting your family and/or any kind of life away from the pool and your job. Pick a reasonable, sustainable workout schedule, which may only be three swims a week, and stick to it. Similarly in your workouts, you do not need to work yourself to the edge of vomiting or passing out every single time. This is a recipie for burn-out. Work on stroke mechanics, chose when you are going to go fast, and when you are just trying to keep the interval, accept that you will have good days and bad. If you are not enjoying practice, change something because you need to be enjoying practice.

Fourth, pick reasonable, meaningful goals for your swimming and work towards them. For your husband, that might be learning the butterfly or flip turns, but only if he thinks that is cool and worth his time. If not, there is no need for him to do so just because that is what swimmers do. Maybe you want to get into shape for a particular open water swim, or there is a pool meet coming up and you want to do well. Maybe you just want to improve your overall swimming so that you can move up a lane in your swim team to a group that does a more intense workout. There are two keys ideas here. Having goals gives focus and direction to your swimming rather than just drifting along doing the same ole' same ole'. Also, the goals to be effective must be something you really want to do. You should pick them, not your coach or your spouse or your teammates.

To take a swing at the other questions you asked. Equipment is nice. It can help you work on specific skills, and allow you to add more variety to your practices. It is not strictly necessary. My advice would be find a team first, or find a coach or a style of stroke mechanics that you intend to follow. Once you pick your team or your style, then see what equipment they recommend to do the skills. Some teams love kickboards, others consider them tools of Satan. Etc.

Baggy swim trunks, yes your husband can swim just fine with them, especially since he knows nothing else. However, he will have an easier time learning new skills and feel more confident and powerful in the water, if he is not towing a parachute around his waist. (I sometimes go swimming in running shorts after a yoga class, so I know what it feels like.) Go to the discount rack of your local swim shop. You will be surprised at how reasonable a decent swimmers suit can be. (Besides, he's a man, for cripes sake! We buy suits in bulk, "Gimme 3 of those and 2 of these, and 2 of the ones back there...'Do they make me look fat?' Who cares?!") If he is uncomfortable with the "brief" style suits, look for "jammers," which go down to just above the knee, but are still much more hydrodynamic.

Last piece of gratuitous advice, go to this web site, and see what you think: www.totalimmersion.net

Good luck, let us know how it goes.


August 28th, 2004, 02:40 PM
Thanks for all the fabulous input!

I think what turned the switch in my head was watching the Olympics and for some reason the memories of meets and practices really invaded my head. Remembering when I would practically "live" to hear "take your mark - HONK!" I'm sure you know what I mean...

I too was always in it to beat PRs from meet to meet- and still would be interested to get out the old sheets and see where I was at peak. I think now I would be in it for the fitness and, yes still the meets and competition. I don't think swimming and boredom have ever fallen into the same soup pot to me... (another reason I would like to get off treadmill and into the pool. Running IS boring. Why this revelation now- no idea.)

I live in Oviedo - just north of Orlando, literally minutes away from the University of Central Florida. I did (shortly after reading your post) end up finding out that there is a Masters group at the pool just up the road from me- but their website listed morning practice times, which has never worked out for me in the past.... However the site also appeared to be from 2002?? I am putting my hand up here- anyone reading my droning here that swims for Oviedo? Anybody know a local swim shop to get my guy a non-parachute suit? :)

I also must point out (I know it isnt a Masters thing, really) but I think it is absolutely sacrelige that UCF does not have a swim team. I think all Florida schools should be obligated- you know? UCF does have a pool, and I plan on getting in and getting my feel for the water back some before becoming a fee-paying, card-carrying USS or USMS member- just to be sure - you know what I mean?

At this point, I really don't know what kind of goals would be realistic for myself -or my husband. I know he would like to know how to flip turn and do fly, so those are good places to start for him. :) but for me? What kind of basic goal should I have??

Edit To Add: Never thought about Pilates being important for swimmers!

Thanks for listening and thanks again for the advice....

Peter Cruise
August 28th, 2004, 04:14 PM
Matt...you mean I really don't have to vomit each workout? And here I thought I was showing real dedication...

Matt S
August 28th, 2004, 04:27 PM

Yes, web sites are frequently out of date. Try calling the contact number. The person listed may not be the current contact person, but you will probably be able to find out who is. The bad news is that a team's workout times do not tend to change. One of the primary reasons a group stays together is that the established time tends to work for everyone in the group. Give the mornings a try. I've moved every three years since I joined the Navy, and had to switch my workout times almost as much. I've usually found that for a good club, I can get used to workout windows I would have never expected to work for me. Most teams will let you swim for free once or twice before they make you join. Once is usually enough to tell if you will fit in, if you like the people and the facilities, and if the time slot will work for you.

Regarding your husband, I can't emphasize this enough. Let him decide what he wants to do. You think racing, the fly, and flip turns are cool. He may or he may not. He will stick with it to please you maybe a month or two. He will stick with something that pleases himself almost indefinitely. Give him space, encourage him to try new things, and let him make up his mind.

If you can stay as gung-ho as you are right now, you might consider trying to start up your own Masters club at UCF. This would involve a lot of work and salesmanship outside of the water, but college students, and the college facilities they can access for free, are fertile ground for starting a club. If you have some contacts at UCF, you might ask around and see if there are others thinking the same thing. It may prove fruitful.

For your own goals, beating all your PRs from your glory years may, or may not, be realistic. Don't be a slave to the events you used to swim. If you got those PRs by doing megayards at 2 workouts per day, is it realistic to think you can beat them without that kind of yardage base? Maybe, for some selected events, where you can tear apart your old stroke technique, and completely rebuild it into a much smarter, more efficient style, you can pull it off. But you need to realize that you probably won't be working as hard as you used to (nor should you; you're a grown up; you only have to do what pleases you today). You also should be open to new things. Heck, give open water swimming a try. You're in a hot bed for that sort of thing.