View Full Version : Really Really New at Competitive Swimming

January 7th, 2007, 09:27 PM
and I wanted to ask a few questions.

I got into this in September (yep, three months ago) because I was interested in losing weight as well as learning a bit of what my son (who is on a club team) goes through. I've always loved swimming. I honestly had no intention of competing and I still feel kind of... unsure about it. I'm not the fastest, I certainly don't have a ton of endurance.

So, I guess I'm asking, if you started late (and judging from what I've read here, I am) when do you break through? During practice, quite often, I feel as though if I'm asked to swim another lap, I might go crazy. And I feel like I don't belong there. There are other people on the team that I just :notworthy: to because they rock.

I've been telling myself that even if I feel like I can't go another yard, push myself to keep going. But the other part of me just says, heck no! I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. It's like the good angel, bad angel. Although, the good angel is winning lately.

Suggestions to get past that mental block I seem to have? It would be appreciated. Thanks for reading.


January 7th, 2007, 09:36 PM
Hey Lisa,

It's awesome that you're braving swim practice as a "late starter"! I started masters' swimming almost two years ago at the age of 54, and I was--actually still am--slow. Sometimes it's very hard to keep going, and sometimes it's like pulling my own teeth to do it. But I see the benefits... not so much in speed, but in better cardio endurance, and helping my running. Also in my resting heart rate. You'll see... that will go way down!

I've done some competitions, and again, I'm normally the caboose, but don't let that stop me.... Just go for the experience, and trying something new. Keeps life interesting!

I'll let the more experienced ppl give the more technical advice, but just a "hooray" from me: and :woot: (always wanted to use that icon!) for you!

January 7th, 2007, 09:45 PM
You know, when I first started, I could only go about 20 yards before I had to take a quick stop. Now, I can swim at least 200 before I have to stop and breathe a bit more. I can also run after my kids and not be breathing heavy. I've got the cardio, I need the mental bit. Thank you for the w00t! :lol

Redbird Alum
January 7th, 2007, 11:40 PM
Lisa -

It's never too late. I "restarted" for the second time about a year ago. Only swam my first competition in 15 years this past weekend. Prior to that, alot of time just enjoying the water and the other folks in the pool.

At 49, it's as much about weight control, blood pressure control and cholesterol for me as it is about swimming faster, but it's still fun to try something for time every once in a while.

Try a meet, you'll be amazed how friendly everyone is, because we all started out (or restarted out) at one time. Congratulations on getting your feet wet!


January 8th, 2007, 08:30 AM
Break throughs are a weird phenomenon. You'll be working out for weeks, or in some cases months, then one day you'll jump in the pool and be faster. That's why you want the "good angel" to keep winning. Some days that bad angel will win and that's ok, too. All you can do is try and limit the bad angel days. The best way I've found is to workout with a partner. I swim before I go to work so I'm usually in the water at 6:00am. Believe me if I knew no one else was counting on me showing up the warm bed and soft pillow would win out more often that not. But, because I know my partner is waiting I somehow manage to get to the pool. Once you develop your routine, it gets easier. Good Luck.

January 8th, 2007, 09:10 AM
Suggestions to get past that mental block I seem to have? It would be appreciated. Thanks for reading.


Lisa I got back for fitness too in Sep. I've dropped soa little weight and am getting into my 34's again (motivator #1)

The people here will keep you laughing and support you if you need it (motivator #2)

Enter a local competition, don't worry about your time too much. Then build your swim around training for your event (motivator #3)

I definitely think entering a race will help you work a bit harder---at least it did for me.


January 8th, 2007, 09:19 AM
I don't know about breakthroughs in terms of competition, but in terms of conditioning I have experienced a breakthrough of sorts. Back in the early 90s when I was in college, I picked swimming back up again for health and got really serious about it, almost militant. One day, I was in the middle of a 600 warm-up and around the 400 yard mark I felt my body tiring out, but then something happened. I got some sort of second wind during the next 200 yards... I could stare down the next 25 and not even need many breaths. This strength came out of nowhere. I decided to just keep going to see how long I could go. I ended up doing a 1500 yards at a good clip. I likened the experience to what runners call "the zone" where pain and fatigue seem to just go away and you feel like you could just run forever. I didn't know it existed in the pool. It took me about 3 months of 3x per week of swimming to experience it. I'm looking to find it again....

January 8th, 2007, 09:45 AM
I totally understand the part about wanting to go crazy if you even think about swimming one more lap. For me swimming is amazing, and the general feeling I get (i think its a lot like running).... while you're doing it you're wondering why, and what you were thinking.... but once you accomplish that goal (be it distance, time, etc....) it's amazing how much you forget about how difficult it was to get there. I agree with some of the above posts- enter a competition and dont worry about anything. If you're going to think about time, just think about beating (or setting) a best time for yourself. I've been in lots of races where I've had the best swim of my life and still came in last.... so it can still be ultra-rewarding! have fun!!

January 12th, 2007, 11:52 AM
I have never competed in a swim meet, so cannot be of much help in that realm. But the fitness and health benefits are strong for me, and sticking with it when one more lap seems impossible does wonders! I am NEVER sorry I have gotten up early and dragged myself for a swim, but often sorry when I have skipped a swim.

Near the end of a swim, when I am thinking I can't do another lap -- I think about how I will feel later -- after my workout. I'm already in the pool -- wet and all -- and another lap or three is right there at my finger tips. Afterwards I will be a bit remorse if I skip those laps, and joyful if I don't!! I will think gosh, I could have done xxx number of yards/meters if I had only done xx more laps. Just a few mind games I play.

And recently (this month) using the new "Go the Distance" fitness swim posted on this site is proving to be a major motivator for me -- ALMOST like having a workout partner to meet! My :2cents:


January 12th, 2007, 12:03 PM
Just get on the starting block and fall in swim to the end of the pool turn and swim back, repeat, repeat, repeat...

That is all there is to it.

January 13th, 2007, 08:15 AM
For me(starting at age 39), break throughs came in spurts. I remember the first real breakthrough was about 8 months into swimming and it really was more of a mental, yes I can moment. Other breakthroughs took time, learning flip turns, about a year, learning backstroke flip turns about 2 years, learning fly.....still working on it. Learning to race something without holding back....still working on it. For me, I worked on things pieces at a time. With the backstroke turn, I tried and tried, and just ended up swallowing water. Had one coach berate me for not doing the turns, for opening them up. I finally told her I would learn them when I was good and ready to, and not before, and I have.

About competing. If you really truly want to understand your age grouper, compete at least once. I often hear parents at a meet sit and wonder why their child cannot do well on back to back events, after all, they swim yards more in practice, how can they possibly be tired. By competing you feel in your body the jelliness of your muscles, and why a quick turnover can be so hard.

Plus, meets are fun, and it does not matter your speed, your ability to start, your ability to turn.

Speedo Racer
January 13th, 2007, 01:34 PM
If you're new to swimming in a club, you want to make sure you are in a lane appropriate for your speed. I've found that a lot of newer swimmers get into a lane that is too fast (especially men...go figure) for them, so they end up primarily working anaerobically, fatiguing early, have to sit out sets and hit the wall too early. In addition, the shoulders will start to bother you if you are trying to keep up in a lane that is too fast.

Slow it down, work on body position and technique, ask the coach to watch you do a lap and give feedback, enjoy the process and improvement will happen. Each time you get in the water, say to yourself: today, I'm going to work on _________.

January 13th, 2007, 03:07 PM
you have to give it time. You have to be humble when you start this swimming thing. When I started almost two years ago, I was a little cocky until I started working out with an experienced swimmer. I was shocked at how fast he left me. Today he still owns me, but it is not as bad.

In the beginning, 100% of it is just showing up and doing workouts. They all don't have to be great workouts. Practice on technique as a new swimmer and your streamlining, your shoulders will thank you. As you strengthen the muscles and get conditioned, then you can start bringing up your intensity.

What I like about swimming is that it takes a long time to become proficient, and as masters, that is exactly what we have..........time.

January 22nd, 2007, 10:03 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions! Today we did a T-30 (well, a T-20) and I was amazed that I swam 32 laps in 20 minutes. That's a lot for me and I didn't really stop. I just kept plodding along, lol. So, I feel pretty good today. My husband says he expects me to pass out around noon. Little does he know I'm dragging him to Home Despot (yes, I know it's spelled wrong) to look at paint samples.

January 22nd, 2007, 10:11 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions! Today we did a T-30 (well, a T-20) and I was amazed that I swam 32 laps in 20 minutes. That's a lot for me and I didn't really stop. I just kept plodding along, lol. So, I feel pretty good today. My husband says he expects me to pass out around noon. Little does he know I'm dragging him to Home Despot (yes, I know it's spelled wrong) to look at paint samples.

Are you going to give hima T-3months to paint the house? :p

January 22nd, 2007, 10:16 AM
Heh. Hope he won't be unemployed that long. How 'bout T-3days? Besides, I'll "help". I'm great at supervision and direction. :p