View Full Version : Fitness Swimming

December 1st, 2004, 12:42 PM
A question for all you Fitness Swimming readers: I've been trying to improve my swimming for sometime now, and based largely upon the advice from members of this forum I purchased Emmett Hines' book Fitness Swimming. I did the T15 test he recommends (swam my 100s at 1:50) and started working through the 'Blue' section of the book. It was hard - not because of the amount of swimming or the drills- because I felt like I wasn't getting as good of a workout as I normally do. Before I moved on to the 'Purple' section of the book, I took the T15 test again and swam 100s in 1:55. I know that I should expect my times to increase before they improve , but when should I begin to see improvements? He mentions 'swimming nirvana' later in the book and I seem to be as far from it as you can be.

Thanks, JP

Blue Horn
December 1st, 2004, 01:11 PM
I would suggest doing the green workouts first. I took a week and did two to three green workouts a day and focused purely on technique. It helped greatly. I would forget about your times for the next 4 weeks, and then see how they are. I started off just under 1:50 and am now down to a 1:30 cruise pace. I have only been doing his workouts for a few months now.

If you aren't getting a good workout, do a couple of workouts together, or add other stroke to your workout.


December 1st, 2004, 04:58 PM
Since I am a rank beginner I started off with the green zone and have done every workout in order. I have worked my way through the blue zone and am now in the purple zone. The first two zones have a rate of perceived exertion of very low. So you are not really supposed to feel wiped out by those drills. The main idea is to improve your freestyle form.

I went from below average (2:05) for my first T-15 to solidly average (1:54 or so) on my second. I just did my third before thanksgiving and have worked my 100 cruise pace down to 1:48. My number of strokes per length (25 yard pool) generally works out to 10 or 11.

So my only advice would be to do the workouts in order and do a T-15 test after you complete each zone. I usually swim 5 days a week and alternate between doing a Fitness Swimming workout one day and on the alternate day do either 30 minutes of freestyle swimming or 30 minutes of swimming with a pair of zoomer fins. I only use the zoomers one day a week.

December 1st, 2004, 05:33 PM
David, Is there a typo in your message concerning the number of strokes per 25 yards(10 to 11). I am considered a reasonably efficient swimmer and the best I can do is 16 to 18 strokes per 25 yards. I would be interested to hear other comments on this matter of strokes per length.

December 1st, 2004, 09:31 PM

I thought I read somewhere that strokes are counted based on both hands/arms completing a stroke. Does this explain the difference in measurement?

If we are counting each hand/arm rotation as a stroke then that would put me up to 20 - 22 strokes.

I could be completely wrong on this. It took me a couple swims to realize that a lap was actually two lengths of the pool!


December 2nd, 2004, 12:55 AM
I also read the "Fitness swimming", but(i have been that way with everything - especially weightlifting in the past), I like to extract some ideas from what I read and combine them with what I think will work for me, so I kinda try to find a good mixture.So I did not exactly follow the routine that Mr. Hines presented in the book, but just implemented the ideas I found useful into my work-outs.I think it works so far, 'cause I am down to 1:11 in my 100m freestyle from a push off a wall in 4 months since I started swimming(from about 1:45).I also added a breaststroke which seemed to help me lower my times at some point and go to the gym for weights 2-3 times a week.
And the most important thing(I learnt that from weightlifting and I am sure that applies to swimming) is to never do the same work-outs for a long period of time, try to vary them a bit, add something new or whatever ...
Good luck.

December 2nd, 2004, 06:21 AM
I always thought a stroke was counted each time a hand enters the water. So left hand enters - one stroke. Right hand enters - two strokes. Dave, I would count your strokes at 20-22. If you are at 10-11 "hand entries", then you are a remarkably efficient swimmer. I have been swimming seriously for about two years. Right now if I concentrate on distance per stroke, I can come it at about 14 strokes. Under normal swimming, I am closer to 17-18.

December 2nd, 2004, 03:00 PM
Yea, our coach makes us do "12 stroke stretches" wherein we have to try and make it to the other wall in 12 strokes or less, counting each hand entry as a stroke.

The trick, at least for those of us in the "slower" lanes is to glide and kick as much as possible. I take two really good strokes, then glide on my side for a couple of yoga breathes, then two more, etc.

We have a few swimmers in the "fastest" lane who routinely do 10-12 strokes per length (freestyle). They are awesome to watch...looks like they aren't even trying, and they come in with 1:10-1:15 for the 100m.

I must say, though, that all your remarks on that book are encouraging. I looked thru it a few years ago and wasn't sure if I'd like it or not. But I'm stuck at about a 1:42 for my 100m, which I'd love to get down to 1:36 (where my wife is, who has been swimming masters for a month, compared to my two years!!!). I may have to pick the book up again and read it thru (and then implement it!)

Kevin in MD
December 2nd, 2004, 03:48 PM
Lots of ideas in this thread.

If you are a little more advanced then doing two workouts back to back is a reasonable way to go. Or as someone else did, alternate the fitness swimming workouts with a more standard workout. You could probably do this until you get the first couple of sets of workouts done.

And make sure that you know the purpose of each drill and what exactly you are trying to improve while doing it or what sensation your are looking for. Badly done drills or distractedly done drills are not very useful. Drills with a puspoe are very useful. In my own classes we totally switch strokes to make everyone realize that the purpose of the drill is to learn soemthing, not to get through it and be done with it. I am afraid that we were just going through the motions on most of our drills. Make sure that doesn't happen to you.

I've often thought that "Advanced Fitness Swimming" would include the other three strokes.

I like the book and suggest it to many people because it is very much a how to manual. You can read swimming fastest and walk away without a clear overarching view of what to do. You can make your way through swimming made easy and get the overarching view but not know how to workout. Emmett's book has it all rpetty well laid out. Hand someone the book, tell them "Do the workouts in order," and when they finish they will be a substantially better swimmer.

December 3rd, 2004, 01:23 PM

I have nothing to compare the book to, but based on my experience I'd definitely recommend it for anyone who wants to work on their freestyle form. I've always been able to "swim" but not for very long or with anything approaching good form. And what little form I had would deteriorate quickly. I can now swim with good form for close to a mile. Beyond that I get tired and the form really starts to suffer. But over time my endurance should continue to improve. I'd also like to get below 1:40 for my cruise pace. Anything beyond that would be gravy!


December 3rd, 2004, 05:06 PM
David, Thanks for the clarification.

December 5th, 2004, 07:19 PM
It's been great to read about other people's experiences with Emmett's book. I'll echo Blue Horn and also tell you to try the sets in order, starting at green. Then either add on some 100's or do two sets if you need more.

I was such a lame-arsed swimmer that my first T15 was (cough) 2:25/100 because I had to stop and rest after each 25. And now (well, as of yesterday), I'm down to 1:41! And it feels like I'm swimming *very* slowly. I generally do 13-16 strokes/25, but have hit 12. It is my ultimate goal to be able to hit 12 consistently, and then I'll worry more about speed (I'm 5 feet tall). I've just followed the workout schedules in the back.

Have you tried emailing Emmett or posting a message on his message board? (I forget the URL offhand, but google Emmett Hines and H2ouston).

Keep on, everyone!

December 7th, 2004, 12:34 PM

That is great! I cannot get down to that few strokes. I was able to get down to 16-18 strokes on some of my drills last night. But once I started to tire out I was back up to the 20 -22 stroke range.

I know Emmett frequents the boards and has a site for his swim group. For the time being I'll probably just continue through the red zone workouts to complete all six zones and see where I am at as far as the swim tests, swim golf and stroke count goes. Then I'll be sure to drop him a line and thank him and tell him how much the book has helped me out.

In the meantime I have no problem being one of the board "guinea pigs" and provide periodic updates on how the program is working for me!


December 28th, 2004, 02:21 PM
Okay I just finished the purple zone. I did a T-15 swim on Sunday and did my first yellow zone workout last night.

When I really work on taking as few strokes as possible, I can get down to 12 or 13 strokes per length. That is tough and I can only typically do one length (25 yards) and need to take a short break before doing another length. When doing regular swimming like T-15 swims, I typically take 16 strokes per length. So my dps has improved a bit.

I was able to work my T-15 cruise pace down to 1:43. My IHR also seemed to drop quite a bit from my previous T-15 swims, so hopefully my endurance is starting to also show some improvement.