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Thread: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

  1. #1
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    Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    After being "spoken to" by the lifeguards about training SDKs, I am wondering how dangerous it really is to do multiple full 25 SCY SDKs.

    Consider this set:
    Fins on.
    10x[
    25 SDK on belly +
    25 free ez +
    25 SDK on back -(or until you can no longer keep the water from flooding your nose) +
    25 bk ez]/2:00

    This is just an example. Basically I'm referring to any set that contains multiple full 25 SDKs on a fixed time interval.

    I've seen multiple people post sets like this in their blogs.
    I've heard that on some age group teams the coach will demand that swimmers complete N full 25 SDKs on some fixed interval or everyone does it over.
    The above observations would suggest that training full 25 SCY SDKs is a reasonable thing to do, but I've talked to some coaches and guards who seem to genuinely believe that even going past mid-pool underwater is just asking for trouble.

    For a reasonably fit masters or age-group swimmer (Let's say a "BB" or stronger swimmer between the ages of 10 and 70 who can comfortably train 4x1hr/week), what do you think:


    1. -Sets like these are generally safe as long as you don't do something stupid, like intentionally hyperventilate to the point of making yourself light headed before your push-off.
    2. -Sets like this are generally safe, but you can never know if you have an un-diagnosed medical condition that renders them very dangerous so you shouldn't do them.
    3. -Such sets are a little risky, but it's a risk you have to take to get really good at SDKs.
    4. -If you do this kind of training regularly, you will eventually pass out under water and possibly die.
    5. -The modern world is sufficiently rampant with litigation that no one can admit that sets like these are safe, even as anonymous vote on this forum.
    Last edited by Karl_S; April 9th, 2014 at 10:38 PM.

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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    karl,
    underwaters are highly personal.
    some can do them with ease and others cannot.
    my only recommendation is do what you are comfortable doing and dont take stupid risks. (and by you i mean the swimming community).
    dont push others to try and make it if they simply cannot.
    even on breath control sets. do what you can do and dont push others.
    as an example, i can make 25s pretty easy (thanks mark and those firestone 500s we did in the dive tank) and breath sets have no issue taking 1 breath for a 50. one guy on my team, we'll call him tom, cannot do that. so even though the written set says take only 3. i take just 1 and he gets my extra 2. i am safe and tom is safe. both doing what we can safely do.

    steve

    p.s. and yes i have pushed myself in the past (and also as a masters) on how far i can go. but ive never thought i was in danger. however i wasnt so stupid to think i could make it past the turn at the 75 all under either!

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    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    I believe 25s underwater are reasonably safe for a proficient swimmer.If they are taking less than 20 sec and you haven't hyperventilated you should be well within safe parameters.Past 25s,or with slower swimmers I think one wold be pushing there luck.Also,if you are underwater and feel the urge to breathe,don't fight it,come up and breathe.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunruh View Post
    karl,
    underwaters are highly personal.
    some can do them with ease and others cannot.
    I think this is really the key. Pool staff hate people doing underwaters because they really don't know who knows what they're doing and who could potential push it too far.

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    Very Active Member arthur's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Coached breath control sets can be more safe with other people in your lane who will notice if something is wrong in a fraction of a minute. Fast 25 SDKs with fins that are completed in less than 15 seconds on 30+ seconds rest I think are as safe as any set. 25s and further distances that take someone a lot longer are probably less safe. Saying going past half way is asking for trouble I think is ridiculous for the vast majority of masters swimmers.

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    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Quote Originally Posted by Karl_S View Post
    After being "spoken to" by the lifeguards about training SDKs, I am wondering how dangerous it really is to do multiple full 25 SCY SDKs.
    According to experts shallow water blackout is the #1 cause of swimming related deaths in physically fit swimmers. So if death is on the "dangerous" side of the ledger, then yes, SDK 25ís can be dangerous.

    http://shallowwaterblackoutprevention.org/
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

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    Very Active Member Jimbosback's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Copeland View Post
    According to experts shallow water blackout is the #1 cause of swimming related deaths in physically fit swimmers. So if death is on the "dangerous" side of the ledger, then yes, SDK 25’s can be dangerous.

    http://shallowwaterblackoutprevention.org/

    The web site does not assign a time to 'prolonged.' I do a few different underwater 25s sets, the slowest of which takes 22 sec, and the fastest of which takes16 or so.

    Dangerous?
    I'm not sandbagging. Those are my times!

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    Very Active Member gobears's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    I know I coach with a "breathe when you need to" policy because I really don't want to have to get in to rescue you! Each person has their own tolerance level. I consider all my swimmers alive and breathing a good thing...

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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Thanks for the thoughtful replies.

    sunruh writes:
    ... do what you are comfortable doing... yes i have pushed myself in the past (and also as a masters) on how far i can go. but ive never thought i was in danger. however i wasnt so stupid to think i could make it past the turn at the 75 all under either!
    When I was in HS the PE teacher had a (probably ill-advised) "let's see who can swim the farthest under water" contest. As a long time age-group and HS swimmer I knew 25 was easy. Most kids weren't making it 25 so I figured winning would be easy. Then, total surprise, some kid, NOT on the swim team, NOT super-jock, did 50 SCY. As a swim team member I knew I could not let that stand. I did a 50, turned under water, pushed off and came up just past the flags. A couple of times I felt my diaphragm "jump". I started to get tunnel vision and I was slightly convulsing at the end. It scared the $%#& out of me. For years after that I would not even attempt a 25, not even a no-breather on the surface. When I do 25s SDKs now, they aren't comfortable, but I don't feel anything like I did that day in HS. I'm figure I'm quite safe. With all the hysteria about this today, now I'm wondering if I am kidding myself.

    BTW, fins off I am taking ~26s. fins on I'm taking about 17s. I get ~45s rest on the set mentioned in the OP.

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Since the longest you can stay underwater in a (non-breaststroke) race is 15 meters, does it really make a lot of sense to do underwater 25s?

    By the way, my team does underwater 25 kicks and I hate them.

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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    Since the longest you can stay underwater in a (non-breaststroke) race is 15 meters, does it really make a lot of sense to do underwater 25s?
    I think this question gets to the real point. I do shooters with and without fins very regularly, but one of the points of doing them for me is to know just where the 15m mark is. Because I dabble in the 50 back, I care both about how to SDK well and also about when to stop.

    If I raced the 50 free or the 50 fly I might practice my intended breathing pattern from time to time. But I don't race those events, and aside from such practice I see no point in face-down efforts without breathing. To the contrary, because I race pretty much only 100s and up in face-down events, and because the shortest of those events still take slow-twitch me about a minute at best, I see far more point in practicing efficient breathing technique than in practicing holding my breath. If I want to practice keeping my head still I can put on my snorkel.

    One of our assistant coaches assigns "breath control" sets pretty often and I always tell her that I refuse on principle to do them.

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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Quote Originally Posted by ourswimmer View Post
    I think this question gets to the real point. I do shooters with and without fins very regularly, but one of the points of doing them for me is to know just where the 15m mark is. Because I dabble in the 50 back, I care both about how to SDK well and also about when to stop.

    If I raced the 50 free or the 50 fly I might practice my intended breathing pattern from time to time. But I don't race those events, and aside from such practice I see no point in face-down efforts without breathing. To the contrary, because I race pretty much only 100s and up in face-down events, and because the shortest of those events still take slow-twitch me about a minute at best, I see far more point in practicing efficient breathing technique than in practicing holding my breath. If I want to practice keeping my head still I can put on my snorkel.

    One of our assistant coaches assigns "breath control" sets pretty often and I always tell her that I refuse on principle to do them.
    Agree!

    Breath control sets generally seem to me to have little value. Exceptions:
    1) Training yourself to not breath until N strokes after the breakout. I'm convinced not breathing on the breakout stroke is faster. If you are going to do this in a race, you need to train it in practice. I essentially never breathe on the breakout stroke in fly or free unless the total distance is 500+.
    2) Breathing alternate sides in freestyle. This helps smooth out the stroke. As an added benefit it gives you the ability to check out where your competitors are. I'm not saying we should breathe every three all the time, but it's great practice and we can all benefit from being good at it when we want to do it.
    3) Low breath count sprints. For freestyle races that are not dominated by the aerobic energy system (50s and 25s) the cost of oxygen deprivation would appear to be compensated for by the speed benefit of not breathing. This should be practiced.

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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    Since the longest you can stay underwater in a (non-breaststroke) race is 15 meters, does it really make a lot of sense to do underwater 25s?
    What about the principle of overload, that without overload there is no (or minimal) growth?

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    By the way, my team does underwater 25 kicks and I hate them.
    Yes, they are awful. Perhaps I am subconsciously looking for an excuse to forget about them.

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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    By the way, my team does underwater 25 kicks and I hate them.
    my team does a kick set, instead i do underwaters

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    Very Active Member Jimbosback's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    Since the longest you can stay underwater in a (non-breaststroke) race is 15 meters, does it really make a lot of sense to do underwater 25s?

    By the way, my team does underwater 25 kicks and I hate them.
    I do underwater DS breaststroke. It really helps with my feel for the water and timing. I also do dolphin kicks, and I think that the last few kicks that get me to the wall really help. I can finish 25 easily, and I let my respiration rate come down in between reps. This thread is still making me second guess something I have done for years.

    Is swimming 25 fly without breathing the same thing?
    I'm not sandbagging. Those are my times!

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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    My understanding is that there isn't the same principle of overload, because the issue isn't muscle strength so much as tolerance of CO2.
    Quote Originally Posted by Karl_S View Post
    What about the principle of overload, that without overload there is no (or minimal) growth?


    Yes, they are awful. Perhaps I am subconsciously looking for an excuse to forget about them.

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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Quote Originally Posted by trexleradam View Post
    My understanding is that there isn't the same principle of overload, because the issue isn't muscle strength so much as tolerance of CO2.
    I'm not sure. For a 25 SCY SDK, especially with fins, I think muscle strength/endurance is at least equal to, if not more limiting than, CO2 tolerance for me.

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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    It's going to be a lot easier to push off from the wall and kick out 15 meters after you've rested in practice than it is when you are fatigued and oxygen-starved during a race. I think that much is a given. If there's an argument for doing underwater kicks for a full 25 yards I think it's because you need to do something much more difficult in a workout to get close to the same "feel" as you'd have during a race.

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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    i think its called lactic acid buildup

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    Re: Is it possible to train 25 SCY underwaters safely?

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    It's going to be a lot easier to push off from the wall and kick out 15 meters after you've rested in practice than it is when you are fatigued and oxygen-starved during a race. I think that much is a given. If there's an argument for doing underwater kicks for a full 25 yards I think it's because you need to do something much more difficult in a workout to get close to the same "feel" as you'd have during a race.
    good point. It never ceases to astound me when I watch someone do ca 8 SDKs off the last wall in a 200 back! Sometimes I am so starved for oxygen at that point it takes all the will power I can muster just to put my head under for a flip turn, let alone a long kickout.

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