View Full Version : How to improve - three month progress report

December 9th, 2006, 06:32 PM
After swimming now for about three months, Iíd like some suggestion on where I can improve my routine. Although my Y has an adult swim program, I really canít make the times they are held so Iím essentially ďself-coached.Ē Iíve not had any ďprofessionalĒ coaching in a long time so I know I am missing a bunch of things. Hope yíall donít mind offering some advice!!

Quick background Ö age group swimmer from around age eight through high school. Middle of the pack kind of guy, not too many wins. Out of competitive or even fitness swimming for about 40 years. Now 56 years old and weighed in around 240 when I started three months ago (about 6 foot tall). Got the idea to get involved with USMS and so on watching my 7 year old son advance through his swimming lessons. Heís planning on joining an age group team soon, and looks forward to beating Dad!!

LONG TERM GOALS: To lose about 40 pounds and maybe live a bit longer.

SHORT TERM GOALS: Compete in a local USMS competition early next year, and maybe even the SCY USMS Nationals in May (since they are being held so close to home) if I can get to a level where I wonít embarrass myself too much. For these events, Iím only looking at the 50 free and maybe 50 fly as possible entries. Not ready for much else!! (My wife has been timing me, and my 50 free from a push off [canít ďdiveĒ at the Y!] is currently running about 34-35 sec. I checked and at last yearís Nationals that would have placed me somewhere around 24th out of 30 or so in the 55-59 age group. I would consider that a MAJOR accomplishment!!)

WHAT IíM DOING: Iíve started out rather modestly. I swim 3-5 times a week for about an hour at a time. Have done a little weight training at home but not enough to notice any difference. My workout last Friday (fairly typical) started with a 200 yd warm up (100 yd easy free, 50 easy dolphin kick, 50 easy free pull), 4 X 25 fly (surprisingly, no calls to 9-1-1!!), 4 X 50 free at probably about 80% max effort, 4 X 25 free at about 95% max effort and trying to make it without breathing Ė successful 2 out of the 4 trips, 100 easy free cool down. I realize itís not much yardage, and well below most, but if I try to go longer I find I just donít have the stamina yet. I hope that will improve over time.

WHATíS HAPPENED: Iíve not lost much weight (down to 230, only about 10 pounds lost), but it must be moving around as all of my pants are now loose, and my wife indicates she can really tell my belly is shrinking (sheís so sweet!!) At the end of a workout I feel TERRIFIC!! Absolutely no unexpected pains that would indicate I better get to the ER!! Shoulders ache a little bit, but not much. Interestingly the minor pains I feel in the shoulders seem to disappear when Iím in the water swimming. I donít really understand that.

WHATíS MY BIGGEST SURPRISE: My interest in butterfly. I never liked it as a kid (backstroke was probably my strongest event back then), but that seems to have reversed. Canít stand to do backstroke now, but the fly is coming along. In the next few weeks Iíll attempt some 50s and see what the times are.

WHAT I KNOW I NEED: Before even considering entering a competition, I need to get some instruction on starts and probably on turns. My turns are probably OK Ö could be better, I am sure Ö but I havenít done a racing dive off blocks since the 60ís!! Iíll try and set something up after the New Year begins.

Other than that ÖI only have about an hour a day that I can sneak away from my home/office and swim so what would yíall suggest I do to continue to improve my overall process?

Thanks in advance.


December 9th, 2006, 07:16 PM

You have probably lost more than 10lbs of body fat, because muscle is heavier/denser than fat. More importantly you're enjoying it and that will only lead to more results! Good for you!!


December 9th, 2006, 09:07 PM

Congratulations on taking up swimming again. That ten pound weight loss is a great beginning to your new athletic body.

I did my first meet in April 2005. All open turns and no one cared. That also was the first dive since high school 35 or so years ago. Concerned yes but no big deal as the bottom of the pool was a long way away. That is the great thing about masters no one cares about how good or bad you are. Every one is there to have a good time and to do their best. The masters group will encourage everyone to do their best. Your times are fine to enter a meet as the Nike commercial says, Just Do It.

Keep up the good work and some day you to will be Chrologically Gifted.


December 9th, 2006, 09:29 PM
First of all, down 10 pounds is great! It came off slow, so it will stay off.

I think to gain some edurance, you need to add 1 or 2 "distance" days into your routine. For you that may mean instead of the 50's replace it with moderate paced 200's or 300's free. You will find that you will be able to swim a few more yards on these days, because you won't require the rest inbetween intervals. Also, it will be a recovery from the sprinting you have been doing, which can help loosen your muscles up, and maybe help the aches.

If you are not doing regular stretching, I suggest you stretch in the shower afterwards while your muscles are warm. That will also help the aches and pains.

When you get yourself closer to the meet, try some all out sprint 50's and see how it feels. For me, this is the hardest thing, because it hurts. Give your self a lot of rest between the sets. What you are trying to do is get used to hitting the turns at a good speed, and finishing at a good speed. Also practice coming back strong on that second 25. You can also practice turning at a higher speed by starting in the middle of the pool and charging into the wall and back out again. I find I get into this comfort factor of turning at a less than race pace, and then I mess my turns up when racing because I have not practice enough racing turns.

Finally, do go to Nationals. I went in 2004 because it was close. I had no cuts, so swam 3 events and some relays, and it was a great experience. My accomplishment, I dropped time on all 3 events and was not dead last!

I am not as experienced as others on the board, starting as an adult, but these things are what helped me do my first meets as an adult.

December 9th, 2006, 09:37 PM
It sounds like your having fun and that's awesome. Coaching yourself can be fun because you get to try a lot of things and the things that work you keep and the things that don't you don't. Anyway, look at the following websites listed below and see if your underwater stroke look like these. After looking at them try to understand what an Early Vertical Forearm position is all about. A lot of coaches believe it differentiates every level of swimmer from beginner to Olympian. Once you understand what an EVF is, you can begin training to improve it.
Streamlining is very important as well as an effective and powerful kick. Putting it all together is difficult when you're coaching yourself but if you buy a couple videos it can help. Goswim.com has a lot of great videos and so does Smoothswim.com. Total Immersion is a great way to learn about how to streamline (you're bound to find some drills you're going to love). If it's propulsion you're trying to improve go to techpaddle.com (my baby). Type in Early Vertical Forearm + swimming and your search will help you find a lot of other tips about propulsion. There are awesome tapes on turns, one is called Swimming Faster Swimming Smarter II ( the first one is great too).
I also suggest you do some EVF isometric drills to help provide you with the shoulder strength necessary to maintain an EVF. You can reach me at tomtopo@netzero.com, I'd love to help.
Good luck Ken!

They're a wonderful collection of underwater videos that support the importance of an Early Vertical Forearm Position for every competitive stroke.

http://www.nyhoff.net/swimcity/Crawl-SwimcityMediaCentre-VDH200mHeat6Sydney2000.mpg http://www.nyhoff.net/swimcity/Crawl-SwimcityMediaCentre-Davis&VDHGoldWR200mSydney2000.mpg//www.nyhoff.net/swimcity/Crawl-SwimcityMediaCentre-IanThorpeFront.mpg

December 11th, 2006, 08:28 PM

Thanks so very much for your suggestions. I'm looking through the videos in particular and will give things a try.