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Alphathree
October 25th, 2006, 10:06 PM
I didn't like the water when I was little and I've been ignoring the problem ever since.

Well, I went to Florida with my girlfriend a few weeks ago and she's quite a good swimmer -- effortless strokes. That did it. Time to learn, I told myself.

I ran into this forum searching the net, and I thought you folks wouldn't mind if I shared my experiences here. Maybe you can give me a pointer or two.

So I bought 10 hours of private lessons to start. My instructor is quite friendly and helpful.

I've had two hours of lessons so far. We've covered kicks, floats and breathing for now... no strokes yet.

On my back, without any assistance, I can swim a length of the pool just with my kicks, arms relaxed.

On my front I have no problem kicking either, but I don't have the breathing quite right -- it's been a bit frustrating.

(Swimming is hard! Can 99% of the planet really do this?)

I have several problems with the breathing:

1. I know I have to empty my lungs under water, but I blow bubbles, and more bubbles, and more bubbles... still more bubbles... and I find it hard to exhale completely. The water resists me.

2. When I turn up for air, due to the above problem, I usually haven't finished exhaling... so I finish exhaling out of the water (this would go
away if I could solve problem 1.) and then try to inhale. At this point I usually take in a bunch of water and I have to stop to catch my breath and cough up the water.

I think the major problem is actually 1. I have a feeling that if I could just empty my lungs fast enough while under water, I would probably be able to catch a very quick breath when I turn my head to breath.

Other than that, I'm also having minor problems with the front and back float. On the front float, my legs always sink. On the back float I do better, but I have trouble getting my midsection to the surface of the water, even with a really good push off the bottom to get me up there. But when my instructor physically pushes my skinny ass up there, then I can float for a bit.

I suppose my progress is pretty good for a complete beginner with a mere two hours in the water in his entire life, but it's also quite frustrating. I wasn't expecting breathing to be a big problem.

Right now I'm doing two lessons per week with my instructor. One half hour on Wed. and one full hour on Thurs. I have the time, willpower, and money to do more lessons per week... do you folks recommend this for someone at my level?

I think that's enough of my blabbing for now. =)

Muppet
October 25th, 2006, 11:16 PM
Alphathree - a couple things from my angle...

Breathing - as you sit and read replys, concentrate on your regular, on earth breathing pattern. Note how often you inhale and exhale. Note how much air you inhale and exhale (again, just regular breathing, sitting at your computer). You may notice that it feels like you're not even coming close to completely emptying and then filling your lungs with each breath out/in. Same thing with exercise breathing... you body natually is looking to retain a litte air, so even under stress, you're still not breathing in and exhaling maximum amounts. Just try not to exhale all that much as you bring your mouth above water to breathe, and you'll be all set.

As for floating, this is more a life-saving technique than anything. Humans weren't meant to float, which is why we use our arms and legs to keep us moving across the surface of the water. Your legs will naturally sink, as human legs are pretty dense by nature (and heavy to boot), when you try to float, so if you must float, try using a very very little pitter patter kick, barely noticable, to keep those legs up top.

Welcome to the pool!!!

Alphathree
October 25th, 2006, 11:42 PM
So you're saying I should breathe as shallow as I do when I'm just doing day-to-day activities?

Muppet
October 25th, 2006, 11:54 PM
Not the shallowness, as when you exercise you're naturally going to breathe heavier. But just note that you do not need to exhale every last bit of air, nor do you need to inhale until your lungs burst.

geochuck
October 26th, 2006, 12:15 AM
Breathe in through the mouth, breathe out through the nose and mouth. Do not exhale all of your air.

Many people just try to breathe in, if you were a balloon you would soon explode. If you force your breath out of your mouth only, water syphons up your nose and you are in trouble, choking and sputtering.

Relax and stretch out, the water will actuaully keep you on the surface without a lot of effort if you just let it happen.

Don.t jump off the bottom just push off gently and glide to the surface. If you jump up to high you will end up falling back under the water.

Alphathree
October 26th, 2006, 01:35 AM
Okay.

I just finished watching a bunch of swimming videos on the net.

I noticed that regardless of the circumstances, there's always water flying everywhere (duh! =)) and people barely raise their mouths out of the torrent of water in many cases.

This leads me to believe that no matter what I do, I will always be getting some water in my mouth/nose...

Currently I'm stopping when I feel that sensation, but maybe I should just plough through... is this whole water in the mouth/nose/ears/ingested something I'll just get used to once I do it enough?

geochuck
October 26th, 2006, 01:38 AM
Spit the water out.

Alphathree
October 26th, 2006, 01:48 AM
Spit the water out.

I suppose that sure does beat swallowing it. =)

Alright, I'm in the pool for an hour tomorrow with my instructor... I'm not getting out of that pool without either getting my breathing down right or drowning... so if you don't hear back from me, assume I drowned.

Tree
October 26th, 2006, 02:53 AM
Breathe in through the mouth, breathe out through the nose and mouth. Do not exhale all of your air. .

I will try this again today after I am off from the work. But George, could you explain a little bit more about it? I tried it before but found it was difficult to exhale through nose.

Tree
October 26th, 2006, 02:57 AM
Spit the water out.

I did that but often ended up without having much time to breathe in since my mouth had to submerge into the water very soon. :(

geochuck
October 26th, 2006, 09:21 AM
I suppose that sure does beat swallowing it. =)

Alright, I'm in the pool for an hour tomorrow with my instructor... I'm not getting out of that pool without either getting my breathing down right or drowning... so if you don't hear back from me, assume I drowned.When we breathe in and if water enters the mouth we are not obligated to suck it into our lungs or swallow it. After you finish your breathe in the head returns underwater you start to exhale and any water in your mouth is exhaled at the time you are breathing out.

scyfreestyler
October 26th, 2006, 12:34 PM
This is probably of little help to you now, but the faster you swim the easier it is to breathe. The faster you go the bigger the wake you will create and when you turn to breathe your head will have actually created a small divet in the water allowing you to take a breath with ease.

Aside from that, all of these things come with lots of practice. Eventually breathing at any pace will be like second nature to you. I often get a bit of water in my mouth as I am finishing my inhale but I just blow it right back out as I exhale. The more you practice the easier these things will become. I think you are doing the right thing by taking lessons and watching elite swimmers in videos. The videos give you something to emulate as you swim.

Alphathree
October 26th, 2006, 03:04 PM
This is probably of little help to you now, but the faster you swim the easier it is to breathe. The faster you go the bigger the wake you will create and when you turn to breathe your head will have actually created a small divet in the water allowing you to take a breath with ease.

Aside from that, all of these things come with lots of practice. Eventually breathing at any pace will be like second nature to you. I often get a bit of water in my mouth as I am finishing my inhale but I just blow it right back out as I exhale. The more you practice the easier these things will become. I think you are doing the right thing by taking lessons and watching elite swimmers in videos. The videos give you something to emulate as you swim.

Thanks.

I'm actually a pretty serious dancer (Swing dancing, mainly). Even though I'm a total newbie at swimming, I'm beginning to realize it's the same as dancing -- all about engaging the right muscles in the right way at the right times, and keeping everything else loose.

Easier said than done.

But one of the ways that I got to be a really good dancer aside from taking lots of lessons and getting lots of practice is watching good dancers on the net, sometimes frame-by-frame. I guess it seems only natural for me to start doing that in swimming, too. So I did.

I think what I really need to do is get in a pool by myself and screw around for a few hours. My instructor is good but she makes me go-go-go. I need some time to myself to just get a feel for some things.

I'm using my University pool right now but I've never been there during "rec" time periods. My private lessons happen when there are other "events" going on in the pool.

Do you think I would piss off swimmers if I went during a rec swim and took the end of one lane just to practice with breathing, floats, and kicks? I'm not really sure what the usual practice is for these things... all I see people doing is powering through the water freestyle.

I'd love to be able to do that. But just like my dancing, I want to be able to do it slow, well, and carefully first.

Right now I really want to spend more time in the water, but I feel like if I go to a pool outside of a private lesson, I'm going to tick off the people who are trying to swim laps.

Seagurl51
October 26th, 2006, 03:45 PM
If you stake your claim in lap lane, more advanced swimmers can go around you. It's just like sharing a lane, so as long as you stay on your side, you should be ok to work on floats and such.

As for breathing, if you aren't getting all your air expelled and think you want to get more out try adding another stroke. So instead of doing three and then breathing, try doing four. Then when you turn to breath, you'll be ready. Once you get the hang of breathing and how much you should expell and how much to keep then you can adjust your stroke count.

Getting water up your nose, I had a lesson who had the exact same problem, every time he turned to breathe he got water up his nose. Make sure you are rolling your head out and not picking it up. I've found that the slighest lift or drop of your head can cause the water to go where you don't want it.

When you're floating, if your legs are sinking try to push your hips up to the top of the water. Your legs will follow. It's hard to push them up, but that just takes practice.

Breaking things down into pieces and then patching it together slowly seems to work the best for most lessons I've taught. Speed does help things go smoother, but I think slower is easier to learn.

Good Luck and Welcome to the Water!!!!:woot:


:2cents:

Alphathree
October 26th, 2006, 08:58 PM
Well I just got back from my lesson.

I can easily do a length of the pool with the backstroke now... and apparently my stroke is "really" good for a beginner -- angled close to the shoulders rather than spread out, and all that jazz.

I'm beginning to like backstroke because whenever I need air, I breathe in... no thinking required.

We tried treading water in the deep end today. No matter what I did, I could not stay afloat. Oh well. We'll try again. I'm going to beat eggs in my spare time.

But yes, on to breathing... everyone's tips here helped me a lot, even moreso than my instructor's. She holds her breath under water and then exhales as she comes up, which went counter to everything I"ve read online.

I tried exhaling ONLY through my nose and inhaling ONLY through my mouth, and for whatever reason, this completely solved my problem. (That and practicing in the shower.)

HOWEVER, I still have trouble physically getting my head out of the water on freestyle. We haven't added the strokes yet, but with or without a kickboard, I think I'm lifting my head a bit, causing my legs to sink, and then my head... just more practice I suppose.

The best I did was two full sets of breaths (in-out-in-out) while kicking before nearly drowning after swallowing a half-gallon of water trying to get a third breath. =)

Anyway, overall, front crawl breathing is better but I still need practice to swim a length, backstroke is amazing, can swim a length easily now, probably two, floats are a bit easier, treading water is impossible. That's where I'm at after three hours in the pool.

geochuck
October 26th, 2006, 09:15 PM
Sounds like you are making progress, good luck. Main thing is don't rush.

Seagurl51
October 26th, 2006, 10:52 PM
The biggest tip I can think of for treading water is to relax. Most people I've seen when are just learning tend to panic and flap around trying to stay up. It really doesn't take that much effort to stay up. Slow big movements are the best.

Congrats on everything!!!! Practice will make perfect!!!!!!!

Alphathree
October 27th, 2006, 01:37 PM
Can someone explain to me in simple terms what "sculling" is and how it relates to treading water? I'm a details-oriented guy.

From what I understand it's moving my hands in and out in front of me with:

no wrist bending
45 degree palm angle
palms never visible
flat hands

Should I be able to stay afloat without any leg movement, just sculling with my arms?

In a slightly related questions, for the egg-beater kick, so I'm drawing circles with my feet... okay... but there has to be more to it than that.

Am I drawing circles parallel to the bottom of the pool, or on an angle...? How should I angle my ankles (say that three times fast.)? Is this the same principle as sculling, but with feet/calves instead of hands/forearms?

LindsayNB
October 27th, 2006, 03:45 PM
The principle of sculling is well illustrated by sticking a flat hand out of the window of a car moving at highway speed (don't try this at home kids!). If the hand is angled at 45 degrees with the leading edge higher than the trailing edge you will feel a force both upward and back tending to lift your hand. The force is always at 90 degrees to the surface.

When treading water if you move your hands back and forth so that the leading edge is higher than the trailing edge the water will press up on your hands lifting you higher in the water. Note that each change in direction of your hands will require a change in the angle, in order to keep the leading edge above the trailing edge.

Egg-beater leg movements, like breaststroke kick, works on a different principle, basically you are lifting the foot with your foot aligned with the direction of movement (vertical) to minimize the amount of drag as it moves upward, you then turn the ankle so that the foot is horizontal and push back down again so that you are pushing down with a larger surface area than when you are lifting the foot. Again this allows you to raise your level in the water somewhat.

bud
October 27th, 2006, 04:08 PM
I think what you are trying to do is pretty cool. And it sounds like you are making remarkably fast progress. Just be patient and practice. You could do more lessons, but once you understand the basics (even if you can’t do them) I’d think one lesson a week would be plenty. Try to work up to 3 practices a week… 3 to 5x/wk will show you the most progress. And be patient.

Vids and articles will help you a bunch, and help you get your ya-ya’s out since you can’t be in the pool all the time. The USMS.org (http://www.usms.org/articles/) web is a good place to start. And keep asking questions here too. There have been a number of returning, starting over, or learning swimmers here on this board lately, so have a go at searching the archives (click link in page header). I know there was a thread or two recently that dealt with breathing issues.

However... most vids and articles (especially) on the web are going to target advanced swimmers. While these resources will show you the latest technique examples, you may want to take them w/ a grain of salt since you have a lot of ground to cover between where you are now and looking like them. The “water flying everywhere” bit is a good example, it does not have to be this way, in fact flying water usually indicates wasted energy, except maybe in a sprint. Watch some long distance swimmers, especially those who focus on “front quadrant swimming” (for front crawl) and you will notice that they splash very little. IMHO the best swimmers are those who barely seem to be moving, but when you swim next to them (or time them) you realize they are flying.

You don’t always have to get water in your mouth, but you always will sometimes. I almost never get water up my nose (except underwater on my back). Just try different stuff in practice and be patient. Try and notice how your body feels going through the water and seek the path of least/most resistance. (The least resistance for everything except that which drives you forward.)

You already have realized one of the most important concepts in swimming (or any sport really) and that is the idea of resting the muscles you don’t need while using the muscles you do need to get the job done. You are already well on your way. Any you are absolutely correct: if you can do it well slow, you can do it better fast. Frame by frame vids are great (I used them to teach myself butterfly). And if you ask 10 swimmers how to do something you will not get 10 identical answers, just take what you like and leave the rest.

Try visiting this site/page (http://www.svl.ch/svl_swim_like_a_fish.html) and look for the heading"Slowly does it". i thought this was an excellent read. there are a bunch of other good articles on this site too, here is a list (http://www.svl.ch/svlimmat_ratind.html#schwimmen).

There are a lot of really good swimmers on this message board who really know their stuff and can articulate it well. (And some have webs of their own, so look for them too.) This thread is a good example. Fell free to start any thread on any question you have. Thanks for dropping by, and Welcome!

And don’t forget to be patient... And practice!

bud
October 27th, 2006, 04:24 PM
The subject line for this post is from a Bill Cosby sketch I heard as a kid on one of his albums about Noah and the Ark. Anyone else remember it?

Anyway...

LindsayNB put it pretty well. All I want to add is that I frequently imagine half of a boat propeller in various swim processes. This is basically the concept you are trying to emulate while sculling with your hands (in fact it is how you scull a boat with a paddle/oar too.)

When I went through swimming and lifesaving training back in the dark ages we were taught to use a scissors kick to tread water, so that is still how I do it today, I find it much easier, but that may be simply because that’s how I learned it. Water polo folks generally do it differently, and they would be good folks to learn from. (Though from what I've heard about how they "play", I'd keep my distance from them.)

If you want to do side stroke to practice a scissors kick then I reckon the lifesaving technique of “top leg back” still holds true.

Alphathree
October 27th, 2006, 05:08 PM
Egg-beater leg movements, like breaststroke kick, works on a different principle, basically you are lifting the foot with your foot aligned with the direction of movement (vertical) to minimize the amount of drag as it moves upward, you then turn the ankle so that the foot is horizontal and push back down again so that you are pushing down with a larger surface area than when you are lifting the foot. Again this allows you to raise your level in the water somewhat.

Thanks... this makes logical sense to me much more so than "make circles with your feet".

But what you've written implies direct up and down motion... where does the 'egg beater' aspect come in?

I assume I could stay afloat just raising my leg, toes pointed down, then lowering my leg, flat-footed... but in watching some treading videos (thanks Geochuck =)), I can definitely see circles.

Are circles just the natural result of trying to do this, with straight up-and-down motions being very awkward?