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  1. #1
    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Solo Swimmers

    Hey, solo swimmers! Welcome to the thread for all of us who train solo. Whether you train on your own due to a lack of a Masters team in your area (or for any other reason), this is our virtual locker room. Please post training tips that you think would be helpful, or anything else you would like to share with the rest of us. Have a rant? Go ahead and vent here!

    I'll start with a tip:

    The most frustrating thing for me training solo is not having a coach on deck to evaluate my stroke and keep me on track, so I bought a waterproof camera and enlisted the help of my husband to periodically shoot video of all four strokes. Shooting underwater video became a knee/back buster, so I bought a camera mount and attached it to PVC pipe, so my husband could stand up straight to shoot underwater video. The camera gets dunked underwater, and he twists the pipe to pan the camera as I swim by.

    Today, I bought a 2-pack of 12-inch "Gear Tie" reusable rubber twist ties (available at Home Depot), so I can tie the PVC pipe to the pool ladder (located in the corner of the pool) and shoot video myself. (If I angle the camera just right and keep it on wide angle, I can video me coming and going.)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    After each video session, I upload the videos to my desktop computer and compare my stroke to my favorite Go Swim stroke videos to see what I'm doing well (or not). I also post them on the Forums for feedback.

    Ok, solo swimmers, what's your tip?
    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

    ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations ~Karla Peterson

  2. #2
    Very Active Member Sumorunner's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    I have no tips, still too much of a newbie, but I have to swim alone because I could not find a local team. I'm hoping to find one in fall or winter. I go to a fitness center with a 4 lane, 25y pool and I have yet to find a good time to go. I suspect it will get better after kids are back in school since one or two lanes are always taken for swim lessons. There is no set schedule for that. The teachers make themselves available at whatever time parents choose, so I can't say 11 or 12 or 1 is a good time. Until September, that is. For the summer I joined a local Triathlon club which has Tuesday night open water sessions, so I can get out and do a mile or so at least one day a week with a friendly group.

    I'm retired, so I go to the pool during working hours and mostly it's other old-timers then too. Those people are not competitive masters and not cross-training for other sports and several are not even what I would term fitness swimmers. Judging by their movements, they are probably rehabbing from serious age-related illnesses. A couple are what I call snorkel guys. They are wide-body 70-80-somethings who wear a swim belt, snorkel, mask and flippers. They will not share a lane since they insist on staying dead center in the lane and the way they flail their arms one wouldn't want to join them anyway. Then there are the floaters, a couple people who do not have any discernible stroke, they more or less tread water, sculling about 10 yards a minute. Often one lane will be taken by 2 or 3 elderly women doing their own style of water aerobics instead of laps, even though there is a larger activity pool just 8 feet away. The big pool is salt water, the lap pool is not, so that's their reason for taking up a lane.

  3. #3
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    My rant is that after shoulder surgery last year and assurances I'd be fine by now, I have an inflamed trapezius caused by packing for our move. I can't do anything that uses my shoulder muscles. It's been months since I've been able to swim. I bought a house in an over 55 development that only has a 50 foot pool (it was still under construction when we purchased and I was told it was a lap fitness pool. That's code for inadequate for fitness swimmers). So I'll be trekking out to LA Fitness up the road, or the aquatic center 10 miles away.

    Elaine, I envy you that awesome pool.

  4. #4
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Don't get discouraged. I had a shoulder replacement 2 1/2 years ago. Just know your limits & don't cross them. I am able to swim but only freestyle. I formerly swam back & fly & physically cannot any more

  5. #5
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Reading some of the comments here makes me incredibly grateful for the 8-lane pool at my Y. They can have three lanes for water aerobics, three lanes for the swim team practice, and still have a couple of lanes left over for lap swimmers. In addition, there is a small pool, so people who are doing water exercises or getting in with their babies won't be taking up space in the lap lanes. Plus, the lifeguards and team coaches are generally good about moving people around if the big pool gets crowded and a newcomer can't get a space in a lane for a workout. The building hours are good and the times for lap swimming are generally reasonable--there is usually at least one lane open, if not more, and as soon as team practice/ aerobics class ends, the lifeguards open those lanes as well.

    What I don't understand is why the aerobics class always needs three lanes. I get this when there are 20 people, but do 5-6 people need three entire lanes to themselves? On the bonus side, the class is scheduled to run until 8:45, but generally everyone gets out by 8:30, so those lanes open up.

    The locker rooms were renovated last year and now have suit spinners. Now, if they could only get rid of the persistent funky smell, all would be good.

    Seriously, this is the best facility I've had the pleasure of using since I was in grad school at Syracuse and had the use of two 25-meter pools (that were always kept nice and COLD). My Y pool is on the cool side, but I'd really prefer it 5-7 degrees colder.

  6. #6
    Very Active Member Sumorunner's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by Nancy H. View Post
    What I don't understand is why the aerobics class always needs three lanes. I get this when there are 20 people, but do 5-6 people need three entire lanes to themselves? On the bonus side, the class is scheduled to run until 8:45, but generally everyone gets out by 8:30, so those lanes open up.
    Because they need to be able to touch bottom, which eliminates half the length of a lane, therefore the width of 3 lanes gives them room to move several yards in all directions. In the town fitness center we have only 4 lanes and they use 3 of them, so the lap pool is unavailable from 8-10:30 AM. At my YMCA there are 8 lanes as in yours, so water aerobics never shuts us out completely.

  7. #7
    Very Active Member Sumorunner's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Yeah, I pulled a deltoid in Aug of 2014 racing my son and grandson across the pool and the pain stayed with me for about 18 months. I was able to swim with it. The pain eased after a lap or two, but afterward, that's another story. And oddly, a gentle arm swing while running hurt quite a bit.

  8. #8
    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Sumorunner: I am convinced the people who use your pool have cloned themselves and populated every pool across the universe! Everywhere I have swum, I have seen the same types you have described. We have them here in my Sun City community as well. I feel your pain.

    Denise: I hope you enjoy your new community. Did you ask how long the pool was going to be when you were shopping for a house? "Lap fitness pool" is up to interpretation, as you found out.

    My main requirement in moving to a new community was that it had to have an indoor pool I could train in all year around-- or, be located very close to one. Ground had just been broken on the pool when we first looked at this community; however, I asked A LOT of questions about the pool before we made our decision. The only bummer for me was that I was told the water temperature would be kept at 82 degrees; however, the whiny noodlers won out in getting the temperature increased a couple of years after we moved in.
    Thankfully, they didn't get their desired 86 degrees-- the compromise of 84 was bad enough!

    Regarding the assurances you received after shoulder surgery, I'm sure you doctor based that on normal usage and activities. Packing and moving is very strenuous repetitive stress on the shoulders (as I remember). Did you continue to do physical therapy after your surgery to keep the shoulders strong and prepare them for such stress? If not, it is something I HIGHLY recommend.

    I had back surgery in 1987, TOS surgery on my shoulder in 1993, and hip surgery in 2014. I am still doing the PT exercises I was given for all three of those surgeries, and I do them each day after my swim (six days per week). Some of them are great for warm-up, so I do those before I swim.

    Denise, I would recommend going back to physical therapy. and seeing what you need to do to get back in the pool.

    Good luck!
    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

    ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations ~Karla Peterson

  9. #9
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    I hear you, Elaine. I went to pt before my surgery and for months after, and kept up the stretching exercises, too, but I just overdid the packing.

    I did ask about the size of the pool in my new community, which was under construction (of course). I was assured by several people that it was a lap pool. Hilariously, the hostess at the clubhouse tried to tell us it was a 50 meter pool. Ha, if only. I talked to the developer and told him I'd never use the pool, that IMHO it was for the shower cap and noodle set. The upside is that there are miles of biking/walking trails in and around the community, and some mediocre but serviceable equipment in what they laughingly refer to as a workout room.

    I'm a member of LA Fitness, though, and there's one about 3 miles from me.

    I'm sad to be giving up my incredibly awesome recreation department here in Fairfax County, where nine of the rec centers have Olympic sized pools (because it's where a lot of the high school teams practice).

    My game plan is to try and get a job with UMd so I can use the wonderful natatorium where the Masters meet was held a couple years back (where we met). There are two big swim centers in Anne Arundel County, they're just a bit of a drive. I'm headed back to the physical therapist next week and fingers crossed, my shoulder will be all right.

    Your journey continues to inspire me. I swear I will get better and get swimming again.

    Thanks for starting this thread.

  10. #10
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by Sumorunner View Post
    Yeah, I pulled a deltoid in Aug of 2014 racing my son and grandson across the pool and the pain stayed with me for about 18 months. I was able to swim with it. The pain eased after a lap or two, but afterward, that's another story. And oddly, a gentle arm swing while running hurt quite a bit.
    Jack, how is that shoulder now? Having a similar problem here.

  11. #11
    Very Active Member Sumorunner's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by cmolnar65 View Post
    Jack, how is that shoulder now? Having a similar problem here.
    It went away eventually. Never had a recurrence. Maybe I got over-protective and never went that hard on it again. All sorts of things get achy every time I do butterfly, but I have such poor technique I should just avoid it altogether.

  12. #12
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by Sumorunner View Post
    It went away eventually. Never had a recurrence. Maybe I got over-protective and never went that hard on it again. All sorts of things get achy every time I do butterfly, but I have such poor technique I should just avoid it altogether.
    Fly is hard. I have a friend I lap swim with. About 15 years ago she did tri-events and learn to swim as adult. She has been swimming about 2 to 3 days a week around 1,500 to 1,800. yards a week. She has difficulty with fly too.

  13. #13
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Hi, I'm a brand new forum member and a relatively new swimmer. I started swimming infrequently with one local masters training group back in 2016, and then somewhat frequently with another training group of the same team last year, but the practices were all at oh-dark-thirty and getting to bed early enough proved to be too difficult. Too many teenagers still in the house. So this year, like everyone else here apparently, I joined the ranks of solo swimmers.

    Elaine, I enjoyed your article on your blog concerning keeping yourself motivated while training "alone" (even though you're sharing a lane at a crowded YMCA or community pool). One of my own motivational goals is to try to swim at the same level as my middle son, who is a senior in high school and swims for a local USA swim team. Yes, yes, I know, "the same level" obviously can't mean swimming the same times, or I'd be packing my bags for USMS Nationals and FINA champs every year. What I mean is using the same concept as the USA age-group motivational times for the kids, but designed for us. Unfortunately, USMS doesn't publish these times like USA-S does.

    Doing a quick online search, though, I found the work that another USMS forum contributor nicknamed Swimosaur did for the past several years. This work was great, and it helped me get a sense of where I was in terms of development. But I never saw an update of the masters motivational times for 2018 or 2019, and I also noticed that Swimosaur's approach didn't guarantee that the AA times (for sprints) and AAA times (for other distances) exactly matched the official Nationals Qualifying Times (NQTs) published each fall by USMS for the upcoming short-course championship meet the following spring.

    Being a retired aerospace engineer, I decided to go ahead and compute my own age-group masters motivational times (MMTs), starting with the official published NQTs instead of the published Top 10 times for the previous three years as Swimosaur did. This approach was actually much simpler and was guaranteed to produce times that exactly matched the NQTs, but it also lacked a bit of the flexibility that Swimosaur introduced for situations in which event times were fairly sparse in some of the higher age groups. For me, though, the simplicity and exact match to the official NQTs won out.

    So I created unofficial age-group masters motivational times (MMTs) for 2019, using the NQTs recently released by USMS for the upcoming short-course yards National Championships in Mesa, AZ. It turns out I'm swimming at least B times in several events, and better than BB in a few, which actually does help me stay motivated in the face of times that are much, much slower than what I see while volunteering at my son's USA swim meets. And the intermediate goal of making the next level in each stroke helps to break down the longer-term goal of making an NQT cut into something manageable and not *quite* so intimidating.

    Anyway, if anyone is interested in getting a copy of the motivational times or in the details of how I computed them (hint: I used the same percentages as USA-S does for age groups 13 and over), I'd be glad to oblige with one caveat: I'm a brand new forum member and I can't post any attachments. Or at least, I don't know *how* to post attachments. I'll need to email them to somebody who has that part figured out.

    So please let me know if these MMTs might be useful to anyone else, especially those of us basically going it alone.

  14. #14
    Very Active Member Sumorunner's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Aha! Good news. I found that the YMCA only 10 miles north of me has an 8 lane 25y pool, and I can join for free within the terms of my health ins. That should have enough room for the floaters and snorkelers and me. And guess what they also have.

    http://cdymca.org/program/c-masters-...-1200pm-100pm/

  15. #15
    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Thanks, Denise! And, you're welcome!

    Good news, Sumo! That sounds perfect for you!
    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

    ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations ~Karla Peterson

  16. #16
    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    My #1 tip for solo swimming is already being discussed - live near great pools. For those of you who have the option to relocate, I highly recommend the greater Phoenix area. We have a stupid number of great pools with generous (and uncrowded lap swimming) and a bevy of great masters teams. Yeah, it's a little toasty in the summer and a little chilly swimming in the mornings outdoors in the winter, but, until the Colorado dries up or we lose access to our fair share of that river's bounty, Phoenix really is the land of pools.

    My second tip is for those of you traveling and training - make the USMS 'Places to Swim' and www.swimmersguide.com as your top favorites on your browser and you'll almost always find a place to train.

  17. #17
    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by pwb View Post
    My #1 tip for solo swimming is already being discussed - live near great pools. For those of you who have the option to relocate, I highly recommend the greater Phoenix area. We have a stupid number of great pools with generous (and uncrowded lap swimming) and a bevy of great masters teams. Yeah, it's a little toasty in the summer and a little chilly swimming in the mornings outdoors in the winter, but, until the Colorado dries up or we lose access to our fair share of that river's bounty, Phoenix really is the land of pools.

    My second tip is for those of you traveling and training - make the USMS 'Places to Swim' and www.swimmersguide.com as your top favorites on your browser and you'll almost always find a place to train.

    Thanks, Patrick! I LOVE swimmersguide.com . I use it everywhere I travel, and I have had great luck finding pools.
    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

    ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations ~Karla Peterson

  18. #18
    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Great thread, Elaine! Hopefully many people will post here. Good luck everyone!

  19. #19
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by pwb View Post
    My #1 tip for solo swimming is already being discussed - live near great pools. For those of you who have the option to relocate, I highly recommend the greater Phoenix area. We have a stupid number of great pools with generous (and uncrowded lap swimming) and a bevy of great masters teams. Yeah, it's a little toasty in the summer and a little chilly swimming in the mornings outdoors in the winter, but, until the Colorado dries up or we lose access to our fair share of that river's bounty, Phoenix really is the land of pools.

    My second tip is for those of you traveling and training - make the USMS 'Places to Swim' and www.swimmersguide.com as your top favorites on your browser and you'll almost always find a place to train.
    Patrick, I'm looking for a 50 meter pool in Phoenix that has lap swims lasting 2:30 hours so I can complete a USMS 10km Postal swim. I live up north in Prescott(short course pools only)I've referenced "places to swim" but it doesn't give enough info. Do you know of any pools for my purpose? I'd love to find a masters team that is planning a group 5/10km postal event.

  20. #20
    Very Active Member FindingMyInnerFish's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    I train with a great masters group, not that near where I live, but worth the commute. ..The coach is excellent and gives feedback to all the swimmers, not just the speedsters. But when I can't make it to the group workouts, I do solo ones. My favorite of the different pools near me is the one at the local high school. That one always has lap lanes up during its posted hours, and, although the pool is typically shared w open swimming, I have yet to see more than 2-3 people in the lap lanes. Often, I have a lane to myself and the pool is kept in good shape. My least favorite is the pool nearest to me. The water is too warm, lap swim hours are sparse (and the aquatic director has no problem pulling rank and taking over lap space with lifeguard and swim classes. Add to that swimmers such as those Sumorunner described, and it's a place I reserve for my short, easy swims. Another y a bit further away has better hours and a better pool (w a hot tub!), but it gets pretty crowded, so can be frustrating to do a workout. Still, I've been able to get in some nice quality swims. I think having a few options for swimming really helps. Also a sense of humor, and flexibility in one's workout plan. For instance, in crowded conditions, I'm less likely to use paddles or try IM sets. And I tend to do shorter repeats b/c that way I can more frequently monitor whether lanes open up.

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