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Alphathree
January 23rd, 2007, 07:03 PM
I posted here when I was just beginning to swim at the ripe age of 23.

Since a lot of people helped me both publicly and through private messages, I think you deserve an update.

I'm a lot more comfortable in the water these days. I'm still trying to perfect my breathing, but it's much less of a struggle.

I realized that THINKING and SWIMMING don't go well together. Once I stopped over-analyzing everything and started just focusing on swimming, more things fell into place.

As a beginner adult swimmer, here are the things that really helped me:

-- Swim, don't think (see above)

-- The kicking you see in TI videos is not the way most people kick... and if it is, it's not a good thing to think about when you're trying to kick better

-- Looking DOWN is bad. Look forward slightly.

-- Backstroke in busy pools with poor turbulence absorption (lane ropes, gutters) is a BAD idea.

-- You are too full of hot air to sink to the bottom of the deep end... if you want to kill yourself by going down there, you'll have to try pretty damned hard.

-- Anything that is supposed to help you float is in fact the best way to drown yourself

-- Drinking lots of chlorinated water will make you sick to your stomach and you'll think you have an ulcer for a month until you take a break from swimming and feel fine

-- Jammers are tight

-- Diving is fun

-- Diving improperly hurts

m2tall2
January 23rd, 2007, 07:31 PM
-- Anything that is supposed to help you float is in fact the best way to drown yourself


While I think this is an excellent point and I've definitely been there before...

If only this were true, there sure would be a lot less noodlers left.

Redbird Alum
January 23rd, 2007, 11:14 PM
Alpha -

Congratulations! and keep up the good work. There may be a few folks who take you to task over one or more of your observations, but I'll be the first to say that your persistance will get you there!

Matt

newmastersswimmer
January 24th, 2007, 09:35 AM
Anything that is supposed to help you float is in fact the best way to drown yourself posted by Alphatree

I for one am a big fan of paddles and pullbuoy. Having the poolbuoy keeps my back end afloat since my kick is very weak....I can feel a major difference with the pullbouy in the positive sense. I am glad that you are enjoying swimming so much and making improvements alphatree. I also don't try and over-think what I am doing when I am swimming b/c there are so many simultaneous things going on that it is hard to keep all of them in focus.....I do, however, think a lot about what I'm doing while swimming...especially during drills and such.....I try and focus on one thing at a time when doing drills ....and then when I am simply swimming sets and such I try and focus on the "feeling" aspect associated to proper technique...feeling smooth etc. Good luck with it all alphatree and keep us posted on your progress.

Newmastersswimmer

tjburk
January 24th, 2007, 10:42 AM
Alphathree,

Thank You!!!! Not only for the laugh your post brought out, but also for the memories brought back by thinking back to when I started swimming all those years ago!!!!!:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

The Fortress
January 24th, 2007, 02:23 PM
Thank You!!!! Not only for the laugh your post brought out ...

That post was a scream! Overthinking can sink you. I think newmastersswimmer is right -- better to focus intently on drills or think about one thing at a time while swimming. Thinking about ten things at a time can cause stroke degradation. And sometimes you just gotta swim. I can't kick the TI way either, although I know more expert swimmers who love it. It's better for longer distances or long sets where you use a 2 beat kick. Technique is critical and something that you never stop working on. But just getting in and swimming is critical too. Good luck and keep plugging away! Hope you do not injure yourself swimming backstroke. I rather like that stroke.

Jim-Bo:

I can't believe you are a pull buoy/paddle addict! I hate big fat paddles. Bad for shoulders.

islandsox
January 24th, 2007, 04:47 PM
Alphatree,

What a hoot your post was updating your swim abilities after several months. And, I do want you to know that I agree with lots that you wrote: for me, swimming and thinking is like drinking and driving (it doesn't work very well, or it may for a block or two (a lap or two), and then the swimming starts to fall apart as does the driving, and doing both of these things can cause me to hit a wall, virtually and realistically.:rofl:

And maybe you have never heard this phrase before but it relates to drinking chlorine: Chlorine is the Breakfast of Champions!! I also agree with swimming and looking forward, not down, because looking down causes me to feel very off-balance plus I enjoy seeing where I am going preferably before I get there.

But I am most happy to hear about your update and that you are sticking with it. I just started back swimming a week ago last Monday and am really putting in the work in the ocean with distance and drills and am feeling smoother each day, and I don't TI either because I don't think I could possibly spend my mental energy constantly thinking about swimming; I prefer to just do it and let myself go because I feel my swim style has carried me well for years and years. And my kick is something my body created just for me.

I am somewhat like you, I just DO IT MY WAY, wasn't that a song?
I'm offline more than on due to power problems here, but I just had to respond and say :groovy: on your progress. And anytime you have to stop and hang on the gutter, remember to do this: Gutter Talk with anyone else taking that little break also. I miss having gutter talk buddies.

Donna

Tree
January 26th, 2007, 08:40 PM
Hello, Alphathree. I probably started to learn swimming the same time with you. I've seen some of you posts which benefited me as well. Glad to see your updates.

May I add one more thing to your list: just keep going even you feel frustrated and it will pay off. I almost gave it up when I was learning how to breathe in freestyle. I practised a lot and seemed never got it right. Even my coach once said he had tried everything he knew to help and would let it go if I could not get it for one more time. I was alos thinking of that. But anyway I continued to practise alone. And all of a sudden it just happened, very naturally!

Thanks for your thread.

KaizenSwimmer
January 27th, 2007, 05:46 AM
I can't kick the TI way either

I thought I'd clarified on another thread that there is no "TI way to kick." On our Freestyle Made Easy DVD there were several people using a 6-beat -- including Joe Novak of whom there was more footage than any other single swimmer -- and several using a 2-beat. Which, therefore, is the "TI Way?"

So I'll reiterate. What we teach is to harmonize and integrate whichever kick comes most naturally to you to the rest of the stroke.

KaizenSwimmer
January 27th, 2007, 05:52 AM
The kicking you see in TI videos is not the way most people kick... and if it is, it's not a good thing to think about when you're trying to kick better

Which suggests three questions:
Which video(s) are you referring to and what kicking advice did you find troublesome?
How do "most people kick?"
What is a "good thing to think about" when you're trying to kick better?

With this input I could try to avoid making similar errors on future productions.

The Fortress
January 27th, 2007, 05:02 PM
I thought I'd clarified on another thread that there is no "TI way to kick." On our Freestyle Made Easy DVD there were several people using a 6-beat -- including Joe Novak of whom there was more footage than any other single swimmer -- and several using a 2-beat. Which, therefore, is the "TI Way?"

So I'll reiterate. What we teach is to harmonize and integrate whichever kick comes most naturally to you to the rest of the stroke.

Terry:

As you should know, I wrote this post well before you "clarified" the TI stance on kicking for Poolraat on the "muscular endurance" thread. All I was referring to above was the synchronization of driving the left foot down while recovering with your right arm. And, in my post, I stated many expert and seasoned swimmers I know love to kick this way. When I said I couldn't do it, I was really just admitting my own ineptitude, not criticizing you. I even said technique was critical and that you should work on it all the time. So I think you're overreacting a little here. This is perfect example of how you should lighten up.

If I had to sum up my impressions of the TI "way" to kick based on my own impressions and readings, I think it would be:

1. Throw out the kickboard

2. Don't "waste" your time with kick sets

3. Use the integrated kick I describe above for maximum results in most distances

4. Don't ever use fins to kick

It appears you're willing to admit that sprinters actually need a strong kick.

Maybe Alphathree was just having trouble with #3 as a beginning swimmer and expressed her frustration. Swimming is a heavily technique oriented sport and I think it's very hard to learn it for the first time your 20s. Most super elite masters swimmers seem to have substantial age group experience, including yourself.

KaizenSwimmer
January 28th, 2007, 09:05 AM
Most super elite masters swimmers seem to have substantial age group experience, including yourself.

I swam once a week with my HS team in 10th and 11th grade. Joined an AAU club as a HS senior which mainly served to alert me how slow and clueless I was.

The Fortress
January 28th, 2007, 12:51 PM
I swam once a week with my HS team in 10th and 11th grade. Joined an AAU club as a HS senior which mainly served to alert me how slow and clueless I was.

You swam in high school and college. In fact, I believe you've written that you "majored" in swimming. So you have much more substantial youth experience than many masters swimmers. Most people who swim in college are not considered "slow" either. With your two new LD records, you're definitely an elite master.

The point is it's hard to learn swimming. I've had trouble re-learning it as masters after a 24 year break. I had to re-learn basic stuff like flip turns and how to swim fly. I think I'll be perpetually learning. Probably Alphathree will be too.

Alphathree
January 28th, 2007, 08:20 PM
Which suggests three questions:
Which video(s) are you referring to and what kicking advice did you find troublesome?
How do "most people kick?"
What is a "good thing to think about" when you're trying to kick better?

With this input I could try to avoid making similar errors on future productions.

4 strokes made easy

There wasn't any particular kicking advice in the videos... it's just the kicking I saw visually.

This ties into the over-thinking business I talked about. I found that my kick worked best when I think about kicking fast enough to keep my feet at the surface and feeling the water "boiling" at my toes.

Whenever I think about knees locked, knees unlocked, hip-power, pointed toes, or any of that... it just doesn't work. =)

Frankly, I didn't think my legs could propel me at all until I started listening to my instructor and did some fast, powerful kicking across the pool. Now I trust my kick.

The other thing that I saw in the TI videos was very fast, powerful strokes -- and I thought they were very cool.

"BAM" -- one strokes and the swimmer moves 10 feet!

The problem is that I tried to do that as a beginner -- "have to keep my stroke count low, otherwise I suck" -- and it really slowed my progress.

I've since increased my stroke count and had a lot more success getting across the pool.

I take my time. If it takes me 20 strokes to get across the pool, then that's what it takes. I realize I'm not being hyper-efficient, but trying to go farther in fewer strokes left me breathless more often than not.

I'm sure that once I develop better breathing skills, I'll be able to move to a lower stroke count.

KaizenSwimmer
January 30th, 2007, 06:18 AM
This ties into the over-thinking business I talked about. I found that my kick worked best when I think about kicking fast enough to keep my feet at the surface and feeling the water "boiling" at my toes.

Whenever I think about knees locked, knees unlocked, hip-power, pointed toes, or any of that... it just doesn't work.

So you've found a focal point that was effective for you. Mindfulness and use of focal points is a skill, similar to, say, the skill of keeping your head more neutral while breathing in Fly or Breast. It's usually best to begin with a single focal point, and one that's fairly accessible. As the effects of that focused practice shift toward habit (i.e. moving from short-term working memory to long-term memory in your neuromuscular system) you free up brain cycles, which you can then apply to some other focal point - which may be a more subtle or elusive sensation. If you start by trying to do several at once -- including some which require finer discrimination on position and effort -- you indeed are likely to experience "overthinking."

If there's a "TI" way of thinking about -- and practicing -- your kick, it would be to be curious about how it works, how it interacts with the rest of your stroke and to focus more on how you might better calibrate kicking effort and tune it to your whole stroke -- rather than a set of rigid "diktats" about the kicking technique you should use.

The effect of the focal point you used was to make your kick more compact. The benefits of a lower-amplitude kick include:
1) less likely to cause drag
2) lower-amplitude movements require less power
3) it can also be a "backing-in" path to controlling over-rotation.


The other thing that I saw in the TI videos was very fast, powerful strokes -- and I thought they were very cool.

"BAM" -- one strokes and the swimmer moves 10 feet!

That's less a result of great power and more of reduced drag and better-integrated propelling movements. If you watch those sections again, would I be mistaken in saying that the impressive propulsion you observed follows a stroking movement in which nothing particularly dramatic happens? Would it be accurate to describe the propelling movements as characterized more by economy than astonishing power?

If you regularly review vivid "mental videos" of movements you have observed that leave a positive impression -- whether on video or from another swimmer -- that can materially help your own swimming because the act of thinking about that image will activate brain patterns similar to those you hope to use in your own swim skills.

geochuck
January 30th, 2007, 07:52 AM
Some one help me what in the world is a "super elite master".

I think Terry is selling again, I mention a book I was going to give away and get my post removed, he mentions his DVD and nothing happens.

tjburk
January 30th, 2007, 09:26 AM
Terry, another suggestion......don't take this the wrong way:

I've been swimming competitively since I was 6 and I find your explanations a little hard to follow sometimes......Lighten em up. And it really does sound like you're trying to sell something sometimes.

The Fortress
January 30th, 2007, 10:34 AM
Some one help me what in the world is a "super elite master".

George:

With that 50 fly time I read about, you sure are. You'll only confirm this status after you set those Canadian records in fly and free this year! :groovy:

dorianblade
January 30th, 2007, 12:51 PM
alpha, how are you buddy?? Been 4 months already? Boy time flies.. time to make another swim vid!
I enjoyed reading your post and i agree with most as well. I'm glad you've reduced the "seriousness" of your technique and just focus on having fun and swimming. I agree about the head down thing..i've tried it for 2 months and gave up. i feel a lot more streamlined and powerful when my head is slightly above and looking forward. it makes the breathing much easier too. (not forcing myself up to catch some air).
My kick is definitely one of my weaker points so i've been working on that lately. Is getting better but after 100 yard my legs get REALLY tired and i find myself almost dragging them to finish the set.

one last point. i like pyramids! right now i'm doing my modes 4x25,4x50,4x100,4x50,4x25.

Keep on swimming, and post a vid if you can!

Alphathree
February 4th, 2007, 03:20 PM
So you've found a focal point that was effective for you. Mindfulness and use of focal points is a skill, similar to, say, the skill of keeping your head more neutral while breathing in Fly or Breast. It's usually best to begin with a single focal point, and one that's fairly accessible. As the effects of that focused practice shift toward habit (i.e. moving from short-term working memory to long-term memory in your neuromuscular system) you free up brain cycles, which you can then apply to some other focal point - which may be a more subtle or elusive sensation. If you start by trying to do several at once -- including some which require finer discrimination on position and effort -- you indeed are likely to experience "overthinking."

If there's a "TI" way of thinking about -- and practicing -- your kick, it would be to be curious about how it works, how it interacts with the rest of your stroke and to focus more on how you might better calibrate kicking effort and tune it to your whole stroke -- rather than a set of rigid "diktats" about the kicking technique you should use.

The effect of the focal point you used was to make your kick more compact. The benefits of a lower-amplitude kick include:
1) less likely to cause drag
2) lower-amplitude movements require less power
3) it can also be a "backing-in" path to controlling over-rotation.

That's less a result of great power and more of reduced drag and better-integrated propelling movements. If you watch those sections again, would I be mistaken in saying that the impressive propulsion you observed follows a stroking movement in which nothing particularly dramatic happens? Would it be accurate to describe the propelling movements as characterized more by economy than astonishing power?

If you regularly review vivid "mental videos" of movements you have observed that leave a positive impression -- whether on video or from another swimmer -- that can materially help your own swimming because the act of thinking about that image will activate brain patterns similar to those you hope to use in your own swim skills.

Dont get me wrong, Terry. I would not have bought your book and your 4-strokes DVD if I thought TI was a bunch of garbage. =)

As a dancer, I really respect the TI philosophy. It really clicked with me.

That said, after gaining some swimming experience, I've realized that TI is probably best for an intermediate swimmer rather than a beginner swimmer.

I'm not sure if it was your intent to market 4-strokes to a beginner... maybe it wasn't. I'm perfectly happy with the DVD and I intend to master all of the drills -- once I'm truly ready for them. =) I want to be a graceful and efficient swimmer.

I suppose I teach dancing the same way -- I try to give people too much theory before even teaching them what the steps are.

I want people's dancing to be fluid and graceful from day 1. It's the equivalent of your "don't practice struggle" advice... but in this case, it would be "don't practice choppy movement".

But it's not possible. You have to let people look like idiots for a while and THEN you can show them some technique and theory.

Intellectually, I understood everything I heard in the TI videos the first time through.

But I didn't _really_ understand ANY of it until I had been in the pool for 20 or 30 hours. Then I started to have "ah ha" moments and went back to particular drills with a new understanding of what they were all about.