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Thread: beginner swimmer | lacking coordination | need help

  1. #1
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    beginner swimmer | lacking coordination | need help

    Hello All,

    I am taking swim instructions through the local USMS ALTS program. it is a new program where adults are given swim instructions. I am in my early 50's and just never till now. I am in the 4th week of my lessons and seem to have (mostly) overcome the fear of water =).

    We are now at the part of the instructions where we are learning freestyle swim and that's where I am at a complete roadblock.

    I am unable to co-ordinate my feet/legs movement with the arms. I can hold my breath and move my feet/legs and do just fine for several feet in distance but the second I start using my arms, my feet/legs stop.

    Its one of those cliche's about unable to walk and chew gum at the same time, while I say that in a lighthearted joke, I am feeling very frustrated with this issue and feel that I won't be able to proceed with the next phase of the lessons where I learn how to move my head side to side and breathe.

    Is this common (unable to coordinate legs and arms)?
    I am open to ANY suggestions/advice/suggestions from you to help overcome this mental block.

    all feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

    Thank you
    XMFan

  2. #2
    Active Member airborne18th's Avatar
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    Re: beginner swimmer | lacking coordination | need help

    Quote Originally Posted by xmfan View Post
    Hello All,

    I am taking swim instructions through the local USMS ALTS program. it is a new program where adults are given swim instructions. I am in my early 50's and just never till now. I am in the 4th week of my lessons and seem to have (mostly) overcome the fear of water =).

    We are now at the part of the instructions where we are learning freestyle swim and that's where I am at a complete roadblock.

    I am unable to co-ordinate my feet/legs movement with the arms. I can hold my breath and move my feet/legs and do just fine for several feet in distance but the second I start using my arms, my feet/legs stop.

    Its one of those cliche's about unable to walk and chew gum at the same time, while I say that in a lighthearted joke, I am feeling very frustrated with this issue and feel that I won't be able to proceed with the next phase of the lessons where I learn how to move my head side to side and breathe.

    Is this common (unable to coordinate legs and arms)?
    I am open to ANY suggestions/advice/suggestions from you to help overcome this mental block.

    all feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

    Thank you
    XMFan
    In short... yes.. when you are learning it is very hard to coordinate the two. and kicking properly is actually not easy either.. ( kicking from the hips ).

    Congrats on getting past the fear.. some people take a very long time, and that is big hurdle.. A woman at our pool who came in for lessons took weeks just to get her face in the water.. but months later she swims laps and loves swimming..

    The ALTS program is a great progression for adults learning to swim. Everyone goes through the progression at their own speed. I personally don't conduct group swim lessons for adults. If you are an adult and can't swim it typically is not because you love the water.. so doing it as a group is difficult for me to do. ( I also deal with adults who have physical limitations.. so it is not practical to do groups ).

    With all that said.. stop thinking.. you have a mental block because you are using your brain. Developing the stroke technique.. even with athletes requires time in the water. Swimming should not be a thought exercise. So how do you remove the mental block? First.. swimming is about training muscle memory.. which takes time in the water focusing on each aspect. correctly. until it is automatic.

    go to the pool 3 times a week.. and just work on kicking while maintaining proper body form.. when you can go up and down the pool with your legs without thinking.. then you will easily be able to connect the arms and legs.

    and a good way to perfect your kick is to do it on your back.. and kick from the hips. ( if your calves hurt your are not kicking properly... your hips and upper thigh should burn )..
    Swim Speed Secrets - STGRID

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    Re: beginner swimmer | lacking coordination | need help

    Quote Originally Posted by xmfan View Post
    I am unable to co-ordinate my feet/legs movement with the arms. I can hold my breath and move my feet/legs and do just fine for several feet in distance but the second I start using my arms, my feet/legs stop.
    That's the first thing I would address. You shouldn't be holding your breath. You should inhale through your mouth, and as soon as you rotate your face back into the water, you should start exhaling through your nose. It may not sound related to other body parts coordinating, but if you are working on holding your breath, that's one more thing you are having to process. Plus it'll fatigue you more quickly than breathing regularly.

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    Active Member airborne18th's Avatar
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    Re: beginner swimmer | lacking coordination | need help

    Quote Originally Posted by 67King View Post
    That's the first thing I would address. You shouldn't be holding your breath. You should inhale through your mouth, and as soon as you rotate your face back into the water, you should start exhaling through your nose. It may not sound related to other body parts coordinating, but if you are working on holding your breath, that's one more thing you are having to process. Plus it'll fatigue you more quickly than breathing regularly.
    he is learning to swim... and air exchange with the stroke is actually probably the next lesson..
    Swim Speed Secrets - STGRID

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    Very Active Member Sojerz's Avatar
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    Re: beginner swimmer | lacking coordination | need help

    Yes this is a common experience for both adults and kids learning to swim. Good swimmers make it look easy, but many of them have been swimming for years. Patience and practice will get you there and as you progress.

    AFTER you learn the basics and can get in a few laps, ask about swim aids (aka pool toys) like kick board, fins, swim snorkel, pull buoy, and paddles. These are great practice tools even for beginners struggling with coordination, breathing and other technique issues - a pull buoy helps keep your rear afloat while you work only on arm stroke, a snorkel helps concentration on arms and legs without the complication of breathing, a kick board helps develop your kick, and fins will help you move faster in the water with a higher body position and allow you to use less energy.

    Don't worry about the struggle, everybody goes through it in the beginning. You'll make it!
    Some guys they just give up living and start dying little by little, piece by piece. Some guys come home from work and wash up and go racin’ in the street. (Bruce Springsteen, 1978)

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    Re: beginner swimmer | lacking coordination | need help

    Quote Originally Posted by airborne18th View Post
    he is learning to swim... and air exchange with the stroke is actually probably the next lesson..
    Yes, I understand that, which is why I mentioned it. As one who jumped back into it last year, over 30 years after I had quit as a kid, I found that getting my breathing correct made everything else much easier (to be clear, at this stage, I'm not talking about head position or anything, I just mean inhaling and exhaling, rather than holding one's breath)
    Last edited by 67King; May 9th, 2018 at 02:03 PM.

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    Re: beginner swimmer | lacking coordination | need help

    thank you all for the encouraging feedback. I greatly appreciate it. Glad to know this (lack of) coordination is common. I am not giving up, rather becoming more determined to conquer this part of the learning =)

    @airborne18 - you are absolutely right. We are not quite there to learning the breathing techniques, that will be next.

    Going through the building blocks, I have the basics down where I am able to hold the streamline position and using only my legs/feet, and hold my breath, I can swim several feet in distance and do a recovery.

    The current steps are to add the arms WHILE holding the breathing, we are asked to do three arm strokes, which is where I struggle with the arm/leg coordination

    @Sojerz - thanks for the accessories tips, I have just purchased a kick board and a pull buoy. I am hoping, especially the pull buoy to help me isolate the legs by keeping them afloat so I can 'practice' the arm stokes' by themselves.

    @67king - I will ask the instructor if incorporating breathing at this point will be of help.

    as I sit at my office desk and think about my swim lesson tonight, I am trying to 'not get into my own head' and 'stop thinking'...but, at the same time I can't help but to 'think' about the techniques itself to make sure I would do them correctly so it's become a catch 22 situation - LOL

    once again, I thank you all for your feedback.

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    Re: beginner swimmer | lacking coordination | need help

    xmfan,

    I agree with 67king. Not alot of learning and improvement can take place until you can swim without stopping and that means you need to master breathing - whatever pattern works for you. This is the first thing I work on with new swimmers - coupled with body position.

    if your instructor is not including breathing and body position, this is going to take you alot longer to figure out.

    Just my two cents worth.

    Paul

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    Re: beginner swimmer | lacking coordination | need help

    Hello All,
    Just an update. I stayed with practicing and at some point, a few days back, it happened.
    My arms and legs are no longer uncoordinated :-).

    thank again for all the encouraging words.

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