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Thread: Solo Swimmers

  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.)

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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
    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.

  5. #5
    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

  6. #6
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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.

  7. #7
    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/

  8. #8
    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

  9. #9
    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.

  10. #10
    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

  11. #11
    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!

  12. #12
    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimspire View Post
    Great thread, Elaine! Hopefully many people will post here. Good luck everyone!

    Thanks, Julia! Hey, keep up the great work with your Swimspire site. Your articles are terrific-- very inspiring!
    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

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

  13. #13
    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    I think this is a great idea for a thread and Elaine's ideas about video are helpful.
    I find 2 things very important for consistency in workouts; a pace clock(or watch) of course and always counting strokes every length. If your pace is what you want and your stroke count is what you want then your technique is likely OK(but can always be better, hence the need video or knowledgeable observer.) If you count strokes every length it becomes second nature and you don't need to think about it.
    I generally love the challenge of coming up with my own workouts and love the freedom to modify them any way I wish. Where solo swimming becomes tough for me is midway in my meet preparation cycle.I try to do 3 taper meets/year(SCY,LCM and SCM) and like to do a 15 wk cycle to prepare. The first few weeks are usually easy to motivate for as I either was satisfied with the last meet and am excited about carrying it forward,or I was not satisfied and that is more motivating.The last few weeks are also relatively easy as I get excited about the meet.The middle weeks are where I have trouble,especially if I get a little sick or hurt and feel like my conditioning is going backwards.How do others cope with this?
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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

    100% concur with Alan!

    • Swim with a pace clock
    • Count your strokes

    To which I would add,

    • Show up

    They say, "Showing up is half the battle." If you're not the water, you can't do the workout. Show up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Stark View Post
    I ... love the challenge of coming up with my own workouts and ... like to do a 15 wk cycle to prepare.
    I like coming up with my own workouts too. But I don't know how to organize a nearly 4 month long preparation cycle.

    Alan, can you comment? What 15 week preparation cycle?

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Stark View Post
    I think this is a great idea for a thread and Elaine's ideas about video are helpful.
    I find 2 things very important for consistency in workouts; a pace clock(or watch) of course and always counting strokes every length. If your pace is what you want and your stroke count is what you want then your technique is likely OK(but can always be better, hence the need video or knowledgeable observer.) If you count strokes every length it becomes second nature and you don't need to think about it.
    I generally love the challenge of coming up with my own workouts and love the freedom to modify them any way I wish. Where solo swimming becomes tough for me is midway in my meet preparation cycle.I try to do 3 taper meets/year(SCY,LCM and SCM) and like to do a 15 wk cycle to prepare. The first few weeks are usually easy to motivate for as I either was satisfied with the last meet and am excited about carrying it forward,or I was not satisfied and that is more motivating.The last few weeks are also relatively easy as I get excited about the meet.The middle weeks are where I have trouble,especially if I get a little sick or hurt and feel like my conditioning is going backwards.How do others cope with this?

    Thanks, King Frog! Thanks for jumping off the lily pad and joining us solo swimmers over here.


    Your suggestion about counting strokes is an excellent one. I took your suggestion back when I was a tadpole in USMS, and I have been obsessive about it ever since. I keep a dive slate and pencil next to my watch at the end of the lane to keep track of my workout and times as I go; and breaststroke always gets a stroke count notation next to every recorded time. For a 200 breaststroke, my stroke count (lately) has been recorded as "8-9-9-10-10-11-11-12" next to my (way too slow) "race" time.

    I feel your pain regarding the middle weeks in your training cycle. I constantly live in that state with my swimming, not because of a lack of motivation, but because of physical issues that prevent my body from being able to tolerate consistent high-intensity training. It's constantly one step forward, two steps back, so I am forever frustrated that my race times (and practice race times) are slipping in the rankings and motivational chart within my age group. When I first started in USMS six years ago, I made breaststroke NQT's and was ranked well within the top half of my age group. Now, I am nowhere near NQT's and I haven't seen 50% in way too long. I've had to adjust my FLOG goals down in yearly mileage, and although I still get in the pool six days per week, 1-2 of those days MUST be easy drill work. Frustrating.


    K.F., I wish I could offer something helpful to you. All I can suggest is to write down your goal times, and bring them with you to the pool. Perhaps seeing them on a daily basis on a card at the end of your lane in the pond would light a fire under your lily pad? How about on those bad days if you change up your routine and just work on drills or your all-time favorite stroke, backstroke? How about signing up for an off event at your next meet, and work on that race on your bad days? That's all your fellow frog has to offer, I'm afraid.

    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

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

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    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Great tips, and thanks, Elaine, for your kind words! I would add to Allen's ideas regarding the 15-week cycle that keeping a logbook is also a great way to measure your progress in terms of yardage. To further motivate you, charting your total weekly yardage in graph format is a nice visual that will allow you to quickly compare your progress over time.

  17. #17
    Very Active Member Sumorunner's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimspire View Post
    To further motivate you, charting your total weekly yardage in graph format is a nice visual that will allow you to quickly compare your progress over time.
    Yes, always. Though I'm somewhat of a newbie to swimming, for running I have training and racing logs going back to 1978. Also pushups, situps, squats, etc. So naturally I keep track of swim yardage as well.

  18. #18
    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimosaur View Post


    To which I would add,

    • Show up

    Hey, Swimosaur!
    Will you be showing up to the SouthSide Pentathlon on September 10? Join me in the Ironman??
    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

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

  19. #19
    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Solo Swimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by Sumorunner View Post
    Yes, always. Though I'm somewhat of a newbie to swimming, for running I have training and racing logs going back to 1978. Also pushups, situps, squats, etc. So naturally I keep track of swim yardage as well.

    Do you use the USMS Fitness Log? Although I miss the cool prizes sponsors used to give out for the milestone achievements, I use the FLOG daily. It's a great tool! Thanks, Jim Matysek!
    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

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

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

    Quote Originally Posted by ElaineK View Post
    Do you use the USMS Fitness Log?
    No. I have a spreadsheet of my own design. My log books precede availability of home computers and networks by a couple decades. I originally kept the sheets in binders. A few years ago, I used the Log-a-run website because a group I belonged to was doing it as a motivator. I was sort-of the king of the pushups list, doing upwards of 4000 per month. The year I turned 65 I managed to do 500 pushups, run a half-marathon and swim 1 mile. Not all at once mind you. The group was cardiac athletes, all of whom have had a heart procedure at some point. I have an artificial aortic valve.

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