View Full Version : coachless

October 2nd, 2002, 11:24 AM
I stopped swimming competitively at age 14 (in Australia), but kept swimming for fun, to stay in shape etc... Then 5 years ago, at age 33 (in Italy), I joined the local masters swim squad – there was no qualified coach and most of the swimmers had started swimming (self-taught) in their adult years.
I looked around for workouts, discovered drills, everyone’s technique drastically needed working on and I took on the unqualified role of drill coach. – at least times improved!
Then last year I moved to Spain – the club I joined has no masters team – and I swim alone. I’d like to know if anyone has any advice for training alone, how to keep up motivation, and is it possible to improve times?
Recently my motivation has been ‘ya gotta swim fast to swim fast’ – I love it, it’s so easy to recall as I slow down and fall into that comfort zone – thanks to whoever coined the phrase.
I’ve been following Michael Collins’ workouts which I never (rarely) get bored with – that’s also a big help and probably half of the battle – although I nearly died the first couple of weeks trying to keep yard times to a meter pool!.
A big problem is feedback. I like TI, probably because I feel it natural – and since I found info on it (6 mos) I’ve working on improving my style
I do 800 meters in 11’20 (25mt pool) and vary between 15-16 strokes per lap – is this good, bad, or in between? I’m 5ft3+1/2 if this makes any difference.
I can’t get under this time – I feel I’ve got the strokes down, I drill in practice, technique is always on my mind but I can’t get faster (I know I’m not getting younger, but..) Also little is mentioned about the kick – how do you kick in TI – or does it just flow on from the stroke?


October 5th, 2002, 03:12 AM
Way to keep with swimming! To address a couple of your queries:

1. TI and getting faster...I'm kind of in the same boat, although my times did get faster last season (my first TI season...) they didn't get as fast as I'd like. However, I'm led to believe that it will take many metres, many months for muscle memory to kick in so that you can "pour it on" in a race and not regress to a choppy stroke. So bear with it!

2. Your stroke count sounds pretty good to me. You could aim to cut it by one or two strokes over the next year; a combination of stretching out at both ends of your stroke AND off the walls may make the difference. You could try adding some shoulder flexibility exercises so that you can get really streamline off the dive and turns.

3. I'm not an expert on TI, but a lane mate (who is a terrific swimmer, with times to prove it) changes the tempo of his kick when he breathes. This works for me on anything longer that 50 metres - especially as kicking hard tires me out. On my breath stroke I increase my kick (a six beat kick) and lax back into a 2 beat kick on non-breathing strokes. I am new to this idea, but so far I like what I feel.

4. You want to get faster: have you targeted a time, and broken it down into 50s or 25s, then drilled to meet or get close to these times? Aside from having to swim fast to swim fast, I think it's important that you learn what different speeds are like; at the same time you have to gauge your speed at different levels of tiredness.

Hope some of this was of use. Happy swimming!

October 14th, 2002, 09:27 AM
Thanks for your reply, Lexa, I have a couple of observations/questions:

1. Are you too training by yourself? If so what material have you used to ‘self teach’? There is just sooo much info, maybe if you’ve sifted through some of it you could tell what’s the most useful and , of course, the clearest. My times have improved , or did improve, and now I’m stagnant – which is most frustrating, you just don’t know what else you can do.

2. After hurting my hip/lower back using a bench press earlier this year I can no longer give a decent push off the walls which must influence stroke count. I’m working on stretching which is proving to be quite a feat!!

3. Well, I tried your 2-2-6 kick (I breath every 3 or 5) and found it near impossible – I totally lose balance and almost roll over, feel like a whale that can’t swim. Persistence maybe?

4. I tend to swim the total distance in a set time, without breaking it down into 50’s or 25’s – how does breaking down times help? And how can you check the partial times without stopping?:(

October 14th, 2002, 10:56 AM
Originally posted by liala
4. I tend to swim the total distance in a set time, without breaking it down into 50’s or 25’s – how does breaking down times help? And how can you check the partial times without stopping?:(

The idea is that you cannot swim a given distance at race speed in practice. (Unless you practiced like you swim a meet: do a 100, recover for 30 minutes, etc.) But you can swim at that speed for a shorter distance. So you break up your longer swim into 50s and 25s, which are swum at the speed you would want to do during a race.

For example, you could do a set of broken 200s.
Method 1) Swim a 100, rest 15 seconds, swim a 50, rest 10 seconds, swim a 25, rest 5 seconds, swim a 25.
Method 2) Swim 4x 50s, with 10 seconds rest between each.

In both cases, you are trying to get you body used to swimming at close to race speed. The rest in between is to allow you to still swim the last length as fast as the first. When you finish, look at the clock, subtract 30 seconds (the rest time), and compare it to your race time. During training, you might want to be within 5 or 10 seconds of the race time, during taper you want to be at your goal time.

Remember to take a lot more rest between your 200s, because you want to give your muscles enough time to recover that you can sustain the effort for the whole set.

The example was 200s, but you can break up any distance from 100 on up.

October 14th, 2002, 04:40 PM
In answer to your questions:

1) Last year I was being coached, but this year our team is coachless... some lanemates give me advice on my strokes. This I know doesn't help you...As for references, there's no one or two articles that "did it" for me; instead I've gleaned bits of useful info. by perusing the web. I also subscibe to "Swim" and "Swim Technique" which have had some good articles.

Could you get someone to videotape your stroke? Get them to videotape you "head on" so you can see where your hand is entering, and hopefully where and how you "catch" the water. Aslo get them to tape you from the side so you can see where your hand exits the water and if you fishtail instead of roll. I know I spent months believing I had a long stroke; then I watched a videotape and realized what it feels like I'm doing and what I'm actually doing can be two different things.

2) Even if you can't push off the wall hard yet, you can improve the efficiency of glide to stroke changeover. Don't breath off the turn! And flexibility will help you out.

3)I don't know why a faster kick on your breath stroke would make you roll over; are you turning your head to breathe or are you twisting at the torso to get your mouth out of the water? Maybe try pressing on the "T" more to give yourself stability. Maybe 6 kicks are too many for your breath stroke; maybe 4 would be better?

4) Mark's comments about breaking down your race into components is good. As well, I will swim sets of shorter distances (ie, 25 and 50s to practice for the 100) and try to pace myself. For example, in a set of 10 x 50, Î will descend the first five, then hold my fast pace for the last five. After fully recovering I'll do a 100, aiming to have a time that is two times my fast 50 time. Sometimes I can do it; other times I'm happy knowing that as it's masters swimming, I won't be cut from the team if I don't make certain times...