View Full Version : Endurance

October 23rd, 2002, 05:51 PM
I've been swimming now for about 10 weeks - typically 3X (at least) per week under the guidence of a coach. I've never swum before, but I've been a "runner" (more like a "shuffler") for many years. I'm 49 years old.

My question is this:
How long (time in the pool) should I expect it to take for my body to build enough endurance to start really decreasing my interval times? In 10 weeks I've gone from barely finishing 25yds without exhausting myself, to a steady 1:45 (maybe 1:50) for a 100 free (no flip turns yet - but I'm working on that). I seem to be "stuck" at the 1:45 mark forever.

I know technique is key and I've attented stroke clinics to help, but just how long should I tolerate these pathetic times before I give up and live life in the "slow lane?" I love this sport and wish I would have started 40 years ago, but I want desperately to improve my times. Also it's pretty frustrating to be completely exhausted after only 4X150 free.

Any advise/help would be appreciated


October 23rd, 2002, 07:56 PM
There's nothing wrong with being in the 'fast lane' (our coach uses the terms 'fast', 'faster', and 'fastest' to describe the various speeds). Keep at it, chances are you will improve. Technique, flexibility, strength, and endurance will all help you improve. And even if you still don't improve that much, you are probably enjoying all the other benefits which come from being on a team.

October 23rd, 2002, 08:49 PM
Sounds to me like you are making good progress.
A couple of ideas:
Get a Speedo type suit vs parachute trunks if you haven't already.

Get some Zoomers or other fins and use them while
practicing good form as well as "swimming fast
in order to swim fast". Use them maybe one third
of your yardage while not using them as a "crutch".

Have at it! Have fun.

October 23rd, 2002, 10:51 PM
I coach an age-group team and a masters team... I've taught adult swim lessons for a few years now...

First, I have to say...you are making progress!! Miss one of your normal workouts and you'll feel it...the difference it makes...

Second, you said you are a runner...now I obviously haven't seen you swim but I read an article in Swim about a year or so ago about runners and the way they kick... When running your ankle is flexed to cushion the shock..but in swimming they need to be toally loose. I have found this article to be extremly true in my adult lessons and team. I would really focus on the kick to see if you are exerting some extra energy there that is slowing you down and wearing you out. You should kick as if you are trying to kick socks off. It would be a great idea to put on a pair of socks that are a little lose and kick some laps in them. If you are kciking properly they should come off fairly easily... When I really focused on my kick (other issues I had to work out) I became dramaticlly faster and was less fatiqued.

Hope this helps.

PS! I love the fast, faster, and fastest lane idea...i am so goign to use that in my practices!!

October 24th, 2002, 12:24 AM
It seems like you are making good progress; ten weeks is not a lot of time to go from a guppy to a dolphin... And a time of 1:45, while it will not qualify you for the Olympics, is nothing to sneeze at considering your starting point. I wouldn't focus so much on time, but on being able to swim more repeats and/or one 100 without feeling like you are going to hurl.

My overall freestyle advice is threefold:
1. breathe every third stroke - it'll help make you streamline.
2. practice controlled breathing: don't gulp air then hold your breath underwater; exhale completely before turning your head to breathe.
3. stretch your stroke out at both ends. Really extend your arm on the entry and push your hand right down and under your thigh on the exit. Think long powerful strokes rather than short explosive strokes. See if you can get someone to video tape you - you'll probably be amazed at how short your stroke really is (I know I was...)

As well, don't ignore the other strokes. By practicing a second stroke you will pick up little "feels" for the water - entry, catch, roll, head position, etc.

Welcome to swimming! You have the rest of your life to get better, so don't worry about it!

October 24th, 2002, 12:44 AM
A 1:45 in a 100 yard freestyle in practice with only 10 weeks experiance and you are 49 years old. You shouldn't be upset with that time. Most of the people that I lap swim with at the Rec pool do over 2:00 and some even over 4:00. And some of these people are in their 20's and 30's. Mine you, I have not pay much attention to the clock but I think that I average in the 1:20's to 1:30's in practice and probably would now swim a 100 yard freestyle in a race around 1:15 to 1:20. As a kid I usually swam it at 1:05 and had a best time around 1:03. As for flip turns in a 25 yard pool it took me about the third workout where I didn't feel that I was running out of air to do it on a regular basis. I took a break from working out in swimming for over 25 years. So when I first started again I was even worst than you are now.

October 24th, 2002, 09:59 AM
I am 42 and have been swimming for just under 2 years. When I started I was in abyssmal shape ... no aerobic base and 40+ lbs overweight. Now I swim workouts of about 2000 yds in less than an hour (even including kick sets which are SLOW), do all four strokes, and am only about 10 lbs overweight. I have been constantly amazed at how much longer new things take at this age than they did when I was younger. In order to adjust to my slower learning curve I have found it tremendously helpful to set all kinds of one-step goals. I actually keep a list and check them off when accomplished. Some I have checked off: freestyle under 20 strokes/length. freestyle under 18 spl. freestyle 15 spl. 500 continuous yds, 1000 continuous yds. undulate (a lap of just head-led or hands-led pulsing), undulate without fins. 50 yd fly. breast stroke 12 spl. 13 stroke/lap easy cruising freestyle. regular flip turns. breast stroke 10 spl. doing some IM sets. Some I have not checked off: comfortable 15 spl backstroke (I take about 17). bilateral breathing (I try but it isn't smooth). 500 free w/ only flip turns. 100 yd fly. do a jean sterling workout (They are on this website under workouts titled 50+ workouts (meaning 50 yrs old and up)). try fistgloves.

Try to set lots of small goals for yourself and really pay attention to the fact that you are acheiving them ... albeit at a slower rate than you may have expected. If you do 4 x 150. Try 20 x 50 (and check it off). Do 50 or 100 of backstroke. Breast. Fly. New strokes are fun as you are experiencing and different strokes emphasize difference muscles and balance. Try to keep it fun. Every once in a while I try to go to the pool without a workout in mind and just see what I get into. Maybe I will do 20 flips off the wall just again and again. Or, do a few laps focusing on streamlining. Or undulate 300 yds (especially if lane traffic is slow). Sometimes then it is easier to remember this is FUN. Be a kid again in the water!

I have also heard that runners have notoriously counterproductve kicks. In addition to other suggestions, you might want to try Vertical Kicking. On form in general (and specific) there are alot of great articles on the H2ouston Swims website, http://www.h2oustonswims.org/frames/home.html. That's the home of Emmett Hines, swimming guru, and a regular participant in these USMS pages.

I found reading lots of articles helpful ... but then necessary to keep in mind just ONE thing at any particular swimming moment. Too much floods the system. Do a few laps focusing on one improvement. Save others for other laps.

Good Luck and remember, this really is FUN. I figure it's a lifelong thing so one step at a time. How many people tackle anything new at our age? Well, a few and thank G-d we're among them!

October 25th, 2002, 12:31 PM
Hi Doug!

Fancy "seeing" you here! It's me; Kari (Hi Ximena!). Doug - you are doing a terrific job in the pool. I ran for 18 years until a knee injury forced me to stop. I've been swimming for a little over three years and I am pleasantly surprised by how fast my progress has been. Just give it time... a 1:45 for 100 with only 10 weeks of swimming is a lot better than you think; as some of the others have mentioned above.

Just keep plugging away and I have a hunch that by this time next year, you'll be happy with what you've done in the pool.

See you guys later!
Kari :D

October 25th, 2002, 03:25 PM
Originally posted by HeatherLouy
...PS! I love the fast, faster, and fastest lane idea...i am so goign to use that in my practices!!

I hope you do! Our coach, Tim Sheeper is probably the most positive person I've ever met. It's contagious. If you can turn anything negative into a positve, like Tim has you will be a success at coaching.

Ion Beza
October 25th, 2002, 09:54 PM
Originally posted by pbsaurus

Our coach, Tim Sheeper is probably the most positive person I've ever met.

I remember Tim Sheeper coaching near Stanford, in Palo Alto in a non-standard length pool, when in 1996 I was in good shape and came to a workout there with John Sulzbach.
Tim, age 32 then and his wife, were on deck.
That Saturday morning, I met during the workout, Olympian Gail Roper and Murray from South Africa.
Gail, John and myself we had had breakfast afterwards, and we discussed.

I have a memory about details of the past, and I don't expect people to necessarily remember like I do.

Regarding the topic of what progress to expect when starting swimming late in life, I also started late, at age 25 by myself in public swim, and at age 28 in organized swimming.
This is not as late as Doug here, who started at age 49 and wished it was 9.
I am now age 44, so since age 28 that's 16 years of organized swimming in two Senior clubs and afterwards in Masters Swimming clubs.

From my experience, developing the swimming specific VO2 Max, different than the running specific VO2 Max, that's the key of progress in swimming:
starting swimming past teenage years -during which the body grows naturally and develops best under specific training-, gives anyone a handicap to fight against with regards to reaching one's lifetime potential in VO2 Max for swimming.

The principles of developing this swimming-specific VO2 Max are however the same for teenagers and for adults:
1) 'Explosive Speed Training' -unfortunately neglected in Masters workouts- a few repeats at 100 % effort of 5 seconds sprints, 30 seconds rest;
2) 'Sprint Race Training' -also often neglected in Masters workouts- a few repeats at close to 100% effort of 1:00 hard swim, 1:30 rest;
3) 'VO2 Training' -often neglected in Masters workouts- repeats at over 90 % effort of 1 to 1 swim to rest ratio for an hour per week;
4) 'Anaerobic Treshold Training' repeats at 90% effort with 5 seconds rest for two or three hours per week;
5) 'Aerobic Training' repeats at 70% effort, for longtime, most of the week;
6) Blood tests ensuring healthy medical parameters, like red cells carrying oxygen, IGF-1 measuring growth hormone, white cells showing no infections in the body, and many more;
7) Cross training: in water and on dry land, flexibility;
8) Lung and heart capacity tests;
9) A passion and enjoyment for doing 1) through 8).

The results of developing this swimming-specific VO2 Max are more modest for adults than for teenagers -who carry their swimming VO2 Max into adulthood even without much training maintenance-.
However, within 'modest' they are still noticeable:
.) in my case I reached for the 100 yards freestyle a 58.11 in 1994, and a 59.74 in May 2002; a 45 seconds, or a sub 50 seconds for a starter past teenage years, doesn't exist;
.) in Doug's case, the 100 yards freestyle is in 1:45 after 10 weeks of training, three times per week;
this can go slowly and steadily down by practicing 1) through 9) under professional guidance.

October 27th, 2002, 08:10 PM
One thing that happens with age is that your body changes. I'm now a poor butterflyer but as a youth that was my second best stroke. Changes in weight and probably because I don't do more than 200 yards or less usually of my workout butterfly has resulted in this. In a recent meet I swam a 50 meter butterfly at 50.00 seconds. Years ago I remember doing it in 34 or something in a workout. On the other hand, my breastroke is faster now than my fly. I did a 47.12 in the same meet in a 50 meter breastroke. Usually with most people breastroke is not faster than butterfly. But quitting swimming over 25 years ago and physical changes has resulted in this.