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PeirsolFan
August 16th, 2005, 06:19 AM
I'm absolutely amazed at the amount of misinformation on swimming, especially on the internet. One website I saw instructing the specifics of the backstroke advocated a completely illegal turn.

A bodybuilder site said that depleting your stores of Glycogen by starving your body of it actually helped the body move faster. I'm not buying that. You can't swim without it.

Other sites like USA Swimming, have a lot of kids with a lot of questions who for some reason don't ask their coaches or parents. Lots of ear infection questions - which are fairly preventable by wearing a swim cap.

Early on in my learning I suffered a severe injury by practicing a drill recommended by one of the so-called experts in swimming technique, who shall remain nameless. That's led me to pay closer attention to sports medicine specialists and surgeons who swim.

Everybody's body is different and has specific limitations. For example, the Neer Test for your shoulders. The entire approach to pitch, catch, pull, etc... is highly individual. I trust top athletic coaches and top swimmers and doctors.

One site on backstroke listed something very technical which actually made sense and works wonders but after running a search a dozen ways through Google I found no one knew of it or spoke of it other than that 1 site!

Who do you trust? What are your thoughts on this?

ande
August 16th, 2005, 07:37 AM
wearing a swim cap won't prevent ear infections

drying out your ears after each practice may help but if you feel the first sign of an ear infection, treat it with something immediately. If you don't it's likely to get worse.

I've used Cortisporin-TC Otic and it's worked for me.
http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/rxdrugprofiles/drugs/cor1589.shtml

Ande

SwiminONandON
August 16th, 2005, 10:47 AM
Adding to the ear ache thing ... I HAVE to wear some type of ear plug or I'll get swimmer's ear ...

As for who to trust, that's a tough call ... as Ande has said time and again, the best thing to do is watch the world's best and try to emulate them ...

The other thing to keep in mind is that for every "rule" a coach (or whomever) tells you there is an exception. For example, some coaches will tell you not to breathe every stroke on fly, well, the way Phelps swims fly he breathes every stroke, Kaitlin Sandeno and Jason Lezak both breathe every stroke on their free ... there are some rules that don't get protested such as don't cross your arms over on backstroke ... but for the most part you need to find an efficient stroke that works for you ...


What exactly was the backstroke website teaching that was an illegal turn?

PeirsolFan
August 16th, 2005, 08:35 PM
I can't recall the site but it was all about swimming. Something similiar to About.com.

My coach at one point actually tried to tell me bi-lateral breathing isn't important. Ande, caps are "fairly" effective as they can trap pockets of air - most guys wont wear them though. Some people are more prone than others.

I've had several operations, endless infections and am in danger of losing all of my hearing by continuing to swim, but I have not had any trouble at all while wearing a cap.

Allen Stark
August 16th, 2005, 11:40 PM
I haven't found the internet very helpful re: swin technique. I read every periodical I can find, ask coaches,buy DVDs,and video tape all the meets I can. Experts disagree,but there is usually a consensus. Also,just because something is good for most people doesn't mean it is best for you. You have to try and see. Ultimately I think you should become the expert you trust most,but still be open minded.

Conniekat8
August 17th, 2005, 01:23 AM
I don't trust anyone completely...
Keep my eyes and ears open. and find what works the best for me.
When it comes to technique, I trust my coach a great deal. For the most part because he's not the one size fits all kind of a coach.

thisgirl13
August 17th, 2005, 02:11 AM
I'm with Connie. I have never trusted anyone completely, including "top" doctors and professionals. And here's why:

My junior year of high school, the usually mild but annoying knee pain exploded into the agony of not being able to finish a relatively enjoyable practice. I'd already been to two local sports doctors, who concluded I had Chondro Malasia(sp) which basically means arthritis under the kneecap. They recommended Cortisone shots for me, at 15, and when my mother refused, put me on Naproxin. The third doctor we tried was one of the top Sports Orthos in the country, located at Grant Hospital in Columbus Ohio. I was there for an hour, he saw me for 10 minutes, proclaimed me to have "jumper's knee" (or a girl's exagerration/growing pains) and prescribed more Naproxin, some PT and a flexible patellar band.

One month later I was lifted out of the pool sobbing at a regional meet and carried across the pool deck to a waiting trainer because I had come into the wall blacking out from pain. I got into the ortho surgeon who was the team physician for Columbus Crew soccer team, and she spent two hours with me, looking at my shoe treads, and when she discovered that picking up my heels relaxed my left leg into a 45 degree curve, ordered an MRI. My very first one.

70% of my left ACL was gone. Completely gone, and as the result of it being an extended injury that no previous doctor had seen, the remaining 30% stretched into a lax band of nothing. My knee, she estimated, had been operating completely without a major ligament (THE major ligament, really) for at least two years, and as a result, all of my knee's structures shifted to take on the extra work, damaging my Posterior Lateral Capsule (a trio of small ligaments located on the outside of the left knee, within the Posterior Lateral Corner) and the actual PL Corner itself.

She referred me to a surgeon at OSU, who thought the best way to cure this would be to send me to Michigan, where they would break my leg at the HIP, and rotate my femur to overcompensate my knee cap so it would shift my PCL and let it do most of the work for my missing ACL. I'm not kidding.

I finally had what was left of my ACL shrunk towards the end of 2001, and am now doing the best I can, though I will never be quite back to normal. Had the first, or even second doctor caught what the 4th doctor caught, and the 5th tried to fix strangely, I would have gone on to state finals my junior year, and attended one of the three D1 schools that were actively recruiting me.

I don't trust anyone but myself. If it doesn't work for me, or feel right, I don't do it. I won't risk it again, now that I'm just getting my swimming career back (slowly, but just watch me)

dorothyrde
August 17th, 2005, 05:46 AM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
I don't trust anyone completely...
Keep my eyes and ears open. and find what works the best for me.
When it comes to technique, I trust my coach a great deal. For the most part because he's not the one size fits all kind of a coach.

Plus, your coach can SEE what you are doing! Often what we feel we are doing is not what we actually are doing.

gjy
August 17th, 2005, 07:18 AM
As far as the swimming advice goes, as others have said, I watch what the best swimmers are doing and see how it matches written and verbal explanations. I watch most of what is on TV and I study all the video files I can download. Also as others have said, I adopt what works for me. Of course if, like me, you're not timing yourself in one way or another, you can still be wrong.

I find debate over techniques interesting and I usually feel confident in who I think has got it right. If I had a coach, and especially if I was young, I would give my coach the benefit of the doubt and start with trust if possible.

I think the girls made important comments. You need to know when to question even your doctor. They are generally all brilliant and fallible; some much more fallible than others. Unlike most doctors, it seems, I believe each of our bodies has unexpected unique qualities. One thing we have to make a judgment on is what to "believe" from our own body and when our body may be "fooling" us (for example, if a sharp pain means there is damage or not; or if a medication or activity is helping something). Funny how the "trust" question even applies to ourselves.

I wear contact lenses when I swim without concern so I wonder about warnings not to wear contacts in the pool. Ok, I have no concern because about the only time I ever wear contacts is while I am swimming. I think the correct advice should probably be: contacts are fine in the pool if you take them out when you're done, otherwise it is a big mistake.

Conniekat8
August 18th, 2005, 01:40 AM
Originally posted by gjy

I find debate over techniques interesting and I usually feel confident in who I think has got it right. If I had a coach, and especially if I was young, I would give my coach the benefit of the doubt and start with trust if possible.


Debates over the technique... I'm a big believer that variations in technique should depend on an individuals body style and their muscular development, and dexterity.
I don't believe into a one size fits all stroke or technique.
There are many paths from A to B.

The best way to find one's own way is to keep an open mind and keep learning. One thing with swimming, it takes time to practice and have various changes sink in. I see many people discard something as invalid before they've gotten good at it. Some of the best changes in my stroke have been the hardest and most awkward to learn. Now that I got the hang of them, I can't believe I ever did without.

PeirsolFan
August 18th, 2005, 05:01 AM
Originally posted by Allen Stark
I haven't found the internet very helpful re: swin technique. I read every periodical I can find, ask coaches,buy DVDs,and video tape all the meets I can. Experts disagree,but there is usually a consensus. Also,just because something is good for most people doesn't mean it is best for you. You have to try and see. Ultimately I think you should become the expert you trust most,but still be open minded.

That was very well stated! :)

PeirsolFan
August 18th, 2005, 05:27 AM
Let's see.... I have moderate Scoliosis, joint problems in both ankles, horrible allergies, and our ever popular friend Plantar Facitiis.

There were standard drills presented to me when I first learned to swim, but kickboards and pull buoys are supposedly bad for the back. Everyone thought my crawl sroke was long and wonderful but after a brief bout with swimmer's shoulder I learned to shorten it.

You are all right in your comments. It depends upon what works for you as an individual. I may want to swim as fast as Peirsol or as smooth as Coughlin, but my anatomy is different. Plus, I'm getting old... :(

tomhendersonfl
August 18th, 2005, 11:23 AM
I just started swimming a couple of years ago to help recover from a ruptured Achilles tendon. For the first year, I followed the “conventional wisdom” of the experts, such as:

• If you want to go faster, train longer and harder
• Build up your shoulders with weights, paddles and pull buoy sets so you can pull harder
• Use kickboard sets to build up your legs so you can kick harder

I also got private coaching from a former competitive swimmer. She actually gave me some decent advice, such as reduce your stroke count, but couldn’t really tell me exactly how one goes about doing that.

As a result, I did get bigger muscles and more fitness, but I made virtually no improvements in time for a year and injured my shoulder to boot. Then I discovered Total Immersion. It was a revelation to me. Most of the basic TI principles are endorsed by most experts, although a few are still somewhat controversial, such as the idea that quality of practice is much more important than quantity. But to me the really important thing about TI is that it teaches you to be your own coach. It gives you tools and techniques for analyzing your swimming and crafting your practices to improve the aspects you want to work on.

One of the first and most important things TI taught me is that the key to swimming is minimizing water resistance, and that this cannot be done by becoming stronger and overpowering the water. You have to practice “fishlike” swimming.

Notice that I use the TI terminology “practice” instead of the common swimming terminology “workout.” TI makes the point that effective swimming is much more a product of skill than of sheer brawn and fitness. To learn a skill, you have to be instructed in how to do it and you have to practice it. You practice piano, you practice dance, you practice tennis, but in swimming you have a workout. You have a piano instructor and a tennis pro to teach you, but in swimming you have a coach to craft a (grueling) workout for you. As long as swimming continues to take this approach, it is going to continue to have problems attracting new participants. I know that during that first year when I was doing endless mind-numbing sets of up and down the lane and constantly struggling to overcome fatigue, I came close to quitting several times. But TI has changed all that. I totally enjoy my practices now. My mind is just as actively engaged as my body, and I have cut my 1,600 meter time by 8 minutes in the last 6 months, while swimming on average about 2,000 meters per practice session three times a week.

So to answer the original question, the only person I now trust for help is my new swimming instructor - me.

PeirsolFan
August 18th, 2005, 09:32 PM
Sometimes I go old school with tips from Dick Hannula (sp?), and Skip Kinney (he was good enough for Bal, Rogan, and Rouse).

There are probably die-hard TI fans here, but I've never met a lifeguard or a competitive swimmer who ever had anything good to say. I tried Terry's DVD's and videos but couldn't get through any of them. No offense to anyone. To each his own.

I just released my coach but never really quit the job myself. ;)

Conniekat8
August 19th, 2005, 01:20 AM
Originally posted by PeirsolFan
Sometimes I go old school with tips from Dick Hannula (sp?), and Skip Kinney (he was good enough for Bal, Rogan, and Rouse).

There are probably die-hard TI fans here, but I've never met a lifeguard or a competitive swimmer who ever had anything good to say. I tried Terry's DVD's and videos but couldn't get through any of them. No offense to anyone. To each his own.

I just released my coach but never really quit the job myself. ;)

TI is very good for those learning the basics and intermediates.
After two to five of swimming with competition in mind most people grow past the basics and need a versatile coach to assist them in finding their own way.

Conniekat8
August 19th, 2005, 01:29 AM
Originally posted by tomhendersonfl
INotice that I use the TI terminology “practice” instead of the common swimming terminology “workout.” TI makes the point that effective swimming is much more a product of skill than of sheer brawn and fitness. To learn a skill, you have to be instructed in how to do it and you have to practice it. You practice piano, you practice dance, you practice tennis, but in swimming you have a workout. You have a piano instructor and a tennis pro to teach you, but in swimming you have a coach to craft a (grueling) workout for you. As long as swimming continues to take this approach, it is going to continue to have problems attracting new participants. I know that during that first year when I was doing endless mind-numbing sets of up and down the lane and constantly struggling to overcome fatigue, I came close to quitting several times.

Sounds like you haven't had a very good coach and have some misconceptions about swimming.
Perhaps you had an age group (kids) coach work with you. There's a significant difference between coaching age groupers and elite USA swimmers, vs. masters, fitness and triathlon swimmers. Very different considerations with respect to individual physical abilities, depending on the age of the swimmer, cognitive and disciplinary capacity of an adult swimmer vs. a 10 year old age grouper, and different needs as far as recovery time.

Our swim practices contain workouts that are 30-50% skill drills, and pretty much only the main set is the hard working fitness or endurance work. The rest is drills and drills and the coach watching you and giving you pointers. Doing drills properly is plenty of a workout in itself.

Also unlike 20+ people per instructor, as in TI clinics, in our clinics you get a max of 6 people per instructor.
As for coaching yourself, that has majopr limitations, unless one has superb visualization skills, and can see yourself in water and able to analyze where you need improvement. So far, I'm not aware of anyone having that ability.

Bob McAdams
August 19th, 2005, 07:17 AM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
Also unlike 20+ people per instructor, as in TI clinics, in our clinics you get a max of 6 people per instructor.
As for coaching yourself, that has majopr limitations, unless one has superb visualization skills, and can see yourself in water and able to analyze where you need improvement. So far, I'm not aware of anyone having that ability.

It's very unwise to comment on swim training with which you have no personal experience. If you had ever attended a TI workshop, you'd know that the workshops never operate with "20+ people per instructor." At TI training, you will see 6 or fewer people per instructor. I've never seen a stroke clinic at my Y, either for kids or for adults, that had a swimmer/instructor ratio anywhere near that low. If your clinics have that kind of ratio, you're lucky.

I'm not sure where you think Tom has "misconceptions about swimming." His statement that "effective swimming is much more a product of skill than of sheer brawn and fitness" is right on the money. I've had a chance to talk to a couple of Olympic medalists about swimming, and was impressed by the fact that both of them seem to be constantly thinking about flawless execution of their stroke every time they swim.

If you're a kid on a kids' swim team, and have 4 or 5 or 6 practices per week with one or two coaches present, it may be adequate to rely on your coaches' feedback (if they're good coaches) to improve your stroke technique. But my impression is that few masters swimmers have this luxury. The masters team at my Y, for example, has one 1 1/2-hour and one 2-hour practice per week, but I wouldn't bet much on your success as a swimmer if those are the only times you hit the pool all week. And, if you swim more than that, you're going to have to, as Tom says, "be your own coach."

This doesn't mean (and I don't think Tom meant to say) that you don't need periodic feedback from someone who can watch you and identify things you're doing wrong. But it does mean that you're not going to be getting that kind of feedback most of the time, and therefore it is not likely to be adequate to operate with a typical kids' mentality of relying entirely on live feedback from a coach. Instead, you're going to need to develop a sensory awareness of what your body is doing in the water, and you're going to need to learn what good swimming technique and bad swimming technique feel like so that you can strive for the former and avoid the latter.

But there's no level of swimming where it makes sense to churn out mindless yardage (or meterage :D ). If a 3-time Olympic gold medalist still pays attention to her technique every time she swims, it stands to reason that the rest of us need to do the same (though she may be straining out gnats while we strain out camels).

And ignoring technique can be dangerous, regardless of your age! Just last month, I coached a 12-year-old girl who was recovering from shoulder surgery for problems brought on by her participation in competitive swimming. She said that her swim team just did long workouts, with very little said about technique. I've even heard of a 9-year-old boy having shoulder problems from competitive swimming.


Our swim practices contain workouts that are 30-50% skill drills, and pretty much only the main set is the hard working fitness or endurance work. The rest is drills and drills and the coach watching you and giving you pointers. Doing drills properly is plenty of a workout in itself.

Well said! It sounds like you're swimming with a well-coached team!


Bob

Conniekat8
August 19th, 2005, 02:22 PM
Originally posted by Bob McAdams
It's very unwise to comment on swim training with which you have no personal experience.

What makes you think I have no personal experience with TI?

tomhendersonfl
August 19th, 2005, 03:27 PM
Connie, I agree with Bob that you have the right kind of coach. Actually, instructor would be a better term for what your coach does. But in my admittedly brief experience, you are in the minority. I think most swimmers still have coaches, not instructors.

You are also correct that self-coaching is difficult. I try to overcome the visualization problem in a variety of ways, such as doing simple drills where I can limit my focus to one or two aspects of technique, and asking for help from lifeguards, other swimmers, and even spectators. I’ve found that most people are happy to watch you for a few seconds to give specific feedback on things you can’t see for yourself (e.g., am I keeping a neutral head position, how far in front of my head is my hand actually entering the water, am I rotating the same amount on both sides, is my elbow pointed at the ceiling during recovery, etc.). Anyone can answer questions like these. The next step for me is to begin using video to analyze my technique, so I am saving my pennies for a camcorder I can use both above and below the water. Once I have videos that I can send to experts for analysis, I expect to make a lot more progress. Self-coaching doesn’t mean that I only listen to myself, just that I only incorporate what makes sense to me.

But back to the way I see swimming being taught, I am 56 years old and have always been very physically active. I studied martial arts seriously for 15 years when I was younger, and have at various times been heavily into baseball, tennis, racquetball, table tennis, volleyball, diving and trampoline. So although I am a novice at swimming, I have a lot of experience learning complex motor skills. In every other discipline I have studied the approach is always the same: Break complex movements down into a series of simple movements, imprint these simple movements in your muscle memory, and then slowly start to recombine the simple movements back into more complex movements. Don’t even try to do the complex movements (like whole stroke swimming) until you have mastered the simple movements, because you will just be imprinting bad habits, especially if you do it when you’re tired. And don’t think about building speed and endurance until you can do the movement perfectly in a slow, controlled manner.

Swimming is the only skill activity I’ve seen where the general approach is different. Can you imagine a tennis pro saying to students, “Just get out there and play game after game. I’ll give you the occasional pointer and we’ll get you so fit you can outrun all your opponents. Just being fit won’t win many matches for you, but eventually your technique will come around. And spend some time watching the pros and try to emulate what they do.” That pro wouldn’t last very long because all the students except the rare few who are naturally gifted would get frustrated and/or injured and leave.

I’ve done a fair bit of searching the Web for swimming related content. I have found lots of “tips” for improving technique, but so far, TI is the only organized swimming “system” I have come across that takes the same approach that I am accustomed to from the other skill sports I have studied. Since I am in the basic/intermediate category, I have found TI to be, as you said in your post, very good for that level. I can’t speak for real competitive swimmers, but I will point out that TI is not at all dogmatic, except at the level of basic principles (e.g., being balanced and streamlined). I have found TI to be very much on board with the idea that each person needs to develop an individual style that is complementary to their unique physiology. TI just says that you need a certain basic foundation of skills before you start to do that.

Would I like to find a great swimming teacher who would work with me in person and teach me in a systematic way, the way I was taught martial arts and tennis? Sure, I would. It would make things a lot easier for me. But they seem to be pretty rare.

PeirsolFan
August 20th, 2005, 06:11 AM
Originally posted by tomhendersonfl
Self-coaching doesn’t mean that I only listen to myself, just that I only incorporate what makes sense to me.

That's a great quote and it's going into my swimming journal. :)

Bob McAdams
August 20th, 2005, 11:17 AM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
What makes you think I have no personal experience with TI?

What I said you have no personal experience with is TI training. No TI training - whether it is a weekend workshop, a camp, or private coaching by a TI-certified coach - ever has "20+ people per instructor," and if you had ever attended any, you would have known that. What made your statement particularly irksome is that what you falsely claimed about TI training unfortunately is the norm for some non-TI training. Your clinics may have no more than 6 swimmers per instructor, but that has not been true of most of the non-TI clinics I've attended.


Bob

PeirsolFan
August 21st, 2005, 12:43 AM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
As for coaching yourself, that has majopr limitations, unless one has superb visualization skills, and can see yourself in water and able to analyze where you need improvement. So far, I'm not aware of anyone having that ability.

That's what video is for. ;)

Conniekat8
August 22nd, 2005, 02:15 PM
Originally posted by PeirsolFan
That's what video is for. ;)

Exactamundo!

Conniekat8
August 22nd, 2005, 02:39 PM
Originally posted by tomhendersonfl
Connie, I agree with Bob that you have the right kind of coach...... snipping for shortness.

Yeah, I've been through self coaching, and through TI for 2-3 years, and finally making most progress after I found a good masters program and a knowledgeable coach invested full time in masters swimming. With a good coach
Personally, I made more progress in 6 months then I have in 3 years of self coaching and TI.

Between the workouts and clinics and personal lessons and goal setting and motivational programs available within the team you get a great package. I agree with you that they are hard to find.
Primarily, as far as I understand is because it is near impossible to make a sustainable living on what masters swim coaches get paid, and yet to run a great wekll rounded program one needs a full time investment.

I find some swimmers (not necessarily you) an odd bunch, they want all this time and quality coaching and instructions and what not, but they seem to want it all for nothing.

As for watching the pro's, other then the novelty of it we really discourage watching them for the technique. Most pro's have very specialized things that they do, that they've learned over the years, and what works for them and their mindset and body Most often one can't do advanced things sucessfully before they get a good basic skills. Watching the pros, I've ween many people focus on minutia that ends up being to advanced for their personal improvement.
If one is to watch a pro, it's best to do it with qualified guidance.

For examplke, in our program, we do watch pro's on occasion, with help of dartfish, and compare the main technique elements watching you vs. a pro with sort of a textbook element of a technique, so a swimmer can visualize the correction they may be aiming for. Even after that, when they get their basic skills in the 'textbook ballpark' then a coach begins to watch you and help you adjust the technique to fit your body style and physical ability.
Especially in masters, giving consideration to one;s physical ability is very important, since unlike with kids swimming, there is much more emphasis on injury prevention.

PeirsolFan
August 22nd, 2005, 08:40 PM
More very good points. Would you pay a coach more if they were ASCA certified? Only universities can afford them it seems. I would pay more and have more faith.

You're right about not analyizing other swimmers too closely. What works for one person may not work for another. I learned another sport by watching someone else and guess what I picked up? A very precise very specific movement that only the two of us do.

I lost my individuality which is something I'm striving to maintain in swimming.

mattson
August 23rd, 2005, 09:15 AM
Originally posted by PeirsolFan
You're right about not analyizing other swimmers too closely. What works for one person may not work for another.

That's why researchers use groups larger than one, in order to average out idiosynchrasies. You can compare (let's say) the final heat of Olympic swimmers, and compare that to another group (new swimmers?), and see if there is any generalized behavior that is different between the two groups.

Although fitness and stroke rate might make one particular swimmer faster than another person, stroke length is the big difference between skilled swimmers (as a group) versus non-skilled swimmers. (But knowing what you want, and knowing how to get it... that's why we have coaches.)

gull
August 23rd, 2005, 09:40 AM
I could be wrong, but I don't believe the top ten swimmers in my age group have achieved their success simply through drilling. Pianists don't need to worry about VO2max, lactate, etc. As for elite tennis players, they devote quite a bit of time to improving their cardiovascular fitness nowadays. Technique is important, no doubt about it; Bobby Hackett once said that he never swam a length of the pool without thinking about his technique. But I think you have to put in the yardage, some (a lot?) of it very fast.

Conniekat8
August 23rd, 2005, 12:46 PM
Originally posted by PeirsolFan
More very good points. Would you pay a coach more if they were ASCA certified? Only universities can afford them it seems. I would pay more and have more faith.

You're right about not analyizing other swimmers too closely. What works for one person may not work for another. I learned another sport by watching someone else and guess what I picked up? A very precise very specific movement that only the two of us do.

I lost my individuality which is something I'm striving to maintain in swimming.

For example, my own coach has a masters degree in sports psychology, is ASCA Level IV coach, and in a month or two getting the level V certification (the highest there is), has about 25 years of experience of coaching etc
Still has a hard time finding a masters coach position that allows a livable wage.
Has to have it supplemented with private lessons, clinics and a 2nd part time job as a PE faculty at a local JC to make ends meet.

It's little different for USA swimming coaches. But, if one wants to be a dedicated masters coach and run a team of their own, it;s difficult.

For example, in our organization, kids pay $125 a month to swim 10 per lane.
Masters pay only $55 a month to have access to any of the thre to four personally coached workouts a day, where they seldom have to swim more than 2 per lane, and have a lot more coaching attention then kids do.
Also, the kids program has a lot more assistant coaches. Kids still don't get more coaching attention, you just don't get a single coach doing all 3-4 workouts per day plus 6 hours administrative work a day. But, can't hire assistants, or get a pay increase unless masters are willing to pay more for their membership.

Bob McAdams
August 23rd, 2005, 05:50 PM
Originally posted by gull80
I could be wrong, but I don't believe the top ten swimmers in my age group have achieved their success simply through drilling. Pianists don't need to worry about VO2max, lactate, etc. As for elite tennis players, they devote quite a bit of time to improving their cardiovascular fitness nowadays. Technique is important, no doubt about it; Bobby Hackett once said that he never swam a length of the pool without thinking about his technique. But I think you have to put in the yardage, some (a lot?) of it very fast.

I don't think anyone is questioning the value of yardage. The question is how you do the yardage. Is it mindless yardage done with the goal of filling some yardage quota, or is it mindful yardage consisting of a combination of drilling, whole-stroke swimming with focal points, and swimming where you work on maintaining your efficiency at faster and faster speeds?


Bob

tomhendersonfl
August 23rd, 2005, 06:40 PM
Originally posted by gull80
.... But I think you have to put in the yardage, some (a lot?) of it very fast.


I didn’t mean to imply that fitness is not important. My point was just that it is more important in the beginning to master the basic skills before working on fitness. I know from experience that fitness alone will not significantly improve your times if your technique is bad. It just enables you to swim slowly and badly for longer distances. And it is certainly not a good idea to try and work on fitness and technique at the same time using the same activity. Your body does not imprint new muscle memory when you are tired. Instead, it reverts to old patterns. So if you work on fitness before technique, you are just imprinting bad habits that will become more and more difficult to correct the longer you do them.

In other disciplines, this is not so much a problem because you can work on skill and fitness at the same time using different activities (cross training). A tennis player, for example, can get fit by running or cycling without having to get fit by playing lots of games of tennis. Swimming seems to be an exception, though, because general aerobic fitness does not seem to translate very well to swimming. When I started swimming, I could cycle hard or power walk in the mountains for hours with no problem. Yet when I first got in the pool, I was exhausted after a couple of hundred meters. Perhaps it’s the different breathing pattern that causes this, I don’t know. But so far I haven’t discovered any effective cross training that helps with my swimming endurance. Maybe this is one reason why there is so much emphasis in swimming on doing lots of laps.

TI offers the opinion that as a beginner, technique is probably 90% responsible for your success and fitness 10%. For an experienced competitive swimmer, that ratio drops to more like 70/30, so the better you get the more of a differentiator fitness becomes. I know this has proven pretty accurate in my case. When I was following the swimming CW of just getting in as many laps as possible I barely made any improvements in my times. But when I began focusing on technique at the expense of fitness, my times improved drastically.

I just think a lot more people would enjoy swimming and be a lot better at it if they were taught deep imprinting of the basic skills (like balance, streamlining, body rotation, etc.) before starting to put in the big yardage.

gull
August 23rd, 2005, 07:10 PM
There are two different arguments here. I don't think anyone questions the value of TI-like drills for the novice swimmer who needs to develop technique. The more interesting argument concerns the competitive Masters swimmer who has a limited amount of time to train. Granted, swimmers at even the elite level work on technique, but what proportion of their workout is comprised of drills? And why are the words "mindless" and "yardage" always linked on this forum? A set of 10x100s @ En2 or En3 pace has a purpose.

PeirsolFan
August 23rd, 2005, 07:14 PM
In the beginning energy wasn't my problem - it was how it was being expended. It really was scary to see me like a windmill out of control veering in every God given direction believing I knew everything. You know, you can breath and kick when you want because there's no pattern. Ha!

Before studying coaching or anything else I knew it had to be broken down into sections and focused on technique. When I began to study coaching and physics, things became much clearer. Gone is the frustration of "I'm moving so much how come I'm not getting anywhere!"

My coach, who was/is quite good in competing in my event, worked for free (long story). Peirsol said not long ago that whether he was feeling good or bad he knew how to swim the event.

Teaching the stroke is different. To me it was more valuable having someone who literally knew what it was lilke to swim it and how to do it with all the injuries and frustrations. It probably has a lot to do with how I learn.

Bob McAdams
August 23rd, 2005, 10:39 PM
Originally posted by tomhendersonfl
it is certainly not a good idea to try and work on fitness and technique at the same time using the same activity. Your body does not imprint new muscle memory when you are tired. Instead, it reverts to old patterns. So if you work on fitness before technique, you are just imprinting bad habits that will become more and more difficult to correct the longer you do them.

I have to disagree with you here. One of the myths I frequently hear from swimmers is that you can't build fitness while you're working on technique. That simply isn't true!

Before I got into swimming, my primary form of exercise was weight training. In weight training, technique is also important, though for a different reason. A typical weight training program consists of a number of different exercises, each of which is designed to work out a different group of muscles. So if you don't do an exercise correctly, the effort ends up being borne by a different set of muscles than was intended, and the muscle group that was being targeted by that exercise ends up getting cheated.

The three things that cause incorrect execution of a weight training exercise are (1) inattentiveness to how the exericse is being done, (2) using too much weight, and (3) doing too many reps. The reason why the 2nd and 3rd reasons so frequently come into play is because when the correct muscles can't do the exercise (either because they're not strong enough or because they're too tired), our natural instinct is to compensate by spreading the effort over more muscles (i.e., by cheating on the exercise). So weight trainers are taught to stop before it gets to that point.

So how do weight trainers ever build their muscles? After all, I've heard swimmers say that in order for your swimming workout to be useful for conditioning, you have to push your speed and distance to the point where your form deteriorates. If you don't, you're not taxing yourself enough for your muscles to grow.

The answer is that this isn't true. You don't have to push yourself to the point where your form deteriorates in order for your muscles to grow. Weight trainers prove this on a regular basis. I proved this on a regular basis back in my weight training days. You do have to push yourself. You do have to do a little more each week than you did the previous week. But you don't and shouldn't push yourself beyond what you can do with correct form, and you should never allow yourself to become inattentive about your form. And exactly the same thing is true in swimming.


Bob

Bob McAdams
August 23rd, 2005, 10:50 PM
Originally posted by gull80
There are two different arguments here. I don't think anyone questions the value of TI-like drills for the novice swimmer who needs to develop technique. The more interesting argument concerns the competitive Masters swimmer who has a limited amount of time to train. Granted, swimmers at even the elite level work on technique, but what proportion of their workout is comprised of drills? And why are the words "mindless" and "yardage" always linked on this forum? A set of 10x100s @ En2 or En3 pace has a purpose.

The words "mindless" and "yardage" aren't always linked in this forum. If you'll reread my post, you'll find that I also talked about "mindful yardage". It's a choice, and it makes a difference which one you pick.

I agree that the percentage of time a swimmer should spend on drills depends on whether he or she is novice or elite or somewhere in between. But, as I also noted in my previous post, drills are not the only type of mindful swimming. Even if a relatively small percentage of your practice time is being spent on drills, all of your practice time should be spent swimming mindfully.


Bob

Allen Stark
August 23rd, 2005, 11:24 PM
I totally agree with Bob. You can get training effect and technique improvement from mindful yardage. Strength,endurance,and technique are all important,but technique will get you faster,faster. That is just as true for the elite swimmer as the novice. Thats why they spend so much time on video taping. I am one of the better breaststrokers in my age group,but last year a coach had me REALLY working on streamlining after the kick.(I thought I was before,but I was wrong.) This dropped my stroke count one stroke per 25 at the same speed. If I take 78 strokes for a 200 LCM and you take 110 you'll have to be in much better shape to beat me. Also in distances up to 200 M,explosive strength is at least as important as endurance. You don't build explosive strength with long swims, you build it with weights and (mindful) sprinting.

Conniekat8
August 23rd, 2005, 11:32 PM
Originally posted by gull80
There are two different arguments here. I don't think anyone questions the value of TI-like drills for the novice swimmer who needs to develop technique. The more interesting argument concerns the competitive Masters swimmer who has a limited amount of time to train. Granted, swimmers at even the elite level work on technique, but what proportion of their workout is comprised of drills? And why are the words "mindless" and "yardage" always linked on this forum? A set of 10x100s @ En2 or En3 pace has a purpose.

My coach suggests, you can always drill when I call for an easy or moderate pace. Drill on warmups and warmdowns. Really, you can incorporate various drills any time youl're not doing 70%+ effort sets. He handed us a pamphlet with 101 kicking drills and said, get familiar with them, any time I call for 200 kick (or similar) I expect you will be incorporating some sort of a drill into it (unless I call for something specific). Each swimmer after a while learns what little things they need to work on, and can pick a drill that targets development in that area.

For example, I love to warm down with a nice elongating catchup, fingertip drag or a salute drill.
On a warmup I start with elongating drills, then go into some more difficult technique drills, while I have the energy. One armed fly and various undulation drills get my rhythm going.

Also, throughout the week, our workouts are structured to have emphasis on different things, day one may be some emphasis on kicking, day 2 technique, day three aerobic conditioning etc....
You don't do the same target workout every day.

It;s really hard to quantify in a single number answer how much drilling to do vs other things. In a well rounded training program it varies on daily basis.
If one has limited time, then they do less of everything, rather than emphasize one thing at the cost of something else.
One really can't take something as complex as swimming and try to boil it down to one magic formula of what to do.

gull
August 24th, 2005, 10:49 AM
I don't see it as an either/or proposition. I don't mindlessly swim a set of 100s or 200s; I think about my technique on every lap. And the time to figure out how to adapt when you're fatigued is not during a race but in practice. I like the Bob Bowman approach--some drilling that precedes the main set so that you can focus on one or more technical aspects during the set. What I see are a lot of tri's swimming back and forth doing countless laps of fish-like swimming drills.