How to start swimming?

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How to start swimming?

Postby Gunlock » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:52 pm

Hey guys.

Am planning on entering the Gatorade or Brooks Tri series in Melbourne at the end of this year, so i've already added running to my training schedule...but i have no idea how to go about starting up swim training.

Now, i'm happy to admit that when it comes to swimming i'm pretty hopeless (I can swim, obviously, but i've never actually swum outside of leisure type swimming), so any advice would be very much appreciated.

I was thinking of just working from whatever i can do in my first swim to a continous 1km freestyle. Would that probably do it for me? I dont have any plans of swimming the channel anytime soon, i just need to get past the swim so i can get on the bike :twisted:

Thanks.

EDIT:: Thought it might be helpful to know my fitness level. I've been running for a little under a month and am currently doing 5km runs at about 6m/k (Am working on bringing this down, still finding it pretty hard work) and i can happily ride for 1 or 2 hours at 30km/h + averages.
Last edited by Gunlock on Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by BNA » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:54 pm

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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby Missy24 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:54 pm

Stroke correction, it doesn't cost that much and it REALLY REALLY REALLY helps
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby hannos » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:57 pm

Missy24 wrote:Stroke correction, it doesn't cost that much and it REALLY REALLY REALLY helps



+1
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby tripstobaltimore » Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:24 pm

Missy24 wrote:Stroke correction, it doesn't cost that much and it REALLY REALLY REALLY helps


+2

I'd also add, rather than going out and trying to swim as far as you can each time, build it up in sets. If the furthest you can swim non stop is 700m, then perhaps try doing 3x200m f/s, then 100m f/s 100m b/s four times. You've effectively swam 1km, but it won't be as taxing as swimming 1km straight out. Try building up to swimming 1km in a set.
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby casual_cyclist » Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:07 pm

I am trying to start swimming to and have some questions. Not sure if I should jump in on this thread or start my own...

Anyway, first session yesterday. I just put on my parachute boardies, went down to the local pool and jumped right in. The pool is a 50 metre pool. I could not even manage one lap.

At first I was trying to breathe just on my right hand side every stroke. That didn't work at all. After a couple of laps I decided I needed to breathe on both sides so I did a lap of just breathing on my left. Actually, I found that easier! So I finished up with three laps of breathing on both sides like this:
right arm up (breathe)
right arm down
left arm up
left arm down
right arm up
right arm down
left arm up (breathe)

I think that's right. Next problem was that I was not exhaling properly and trying to exhale and breath in at the same time with my head out of the water. Not good. So I practiced breathing out more when my head was under water.

I think I improved. I am going to download this when I get home which might hopefully help: http://www.swimsmooth.com/beginner.php

I have some questions though:

1) I felt water trickling down my ears while I was swimming, which felt gross. Do people wear ear plugs? If so, what kind and do they hurt after a while of swimming.
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/p/swim/9/Speedo ... 360024519/

2) I spent 40 mins in the pool and the chorine burnt my eyes a bit. What kind of googles and do they start to hurt after a while?
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/p/swim/9/Speedo ... 360015259/

3) I was getting a lot of water up my nose too. Is that just technique or do you wear nose plugs. They look pretty uncomfortable.
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/p/swim/9/Speedo ... 360024520/

4) Is a swimming cap to go faster or to keep chlorine out of your hair?

5) briefs or shorts?
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/p/swim/9/Speedo ... 360050400/
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/p/swim/9/Speedo ... 360046834/

In my first session I managed 8 laps which I think is ok considering most of it I was trying to figure out how to swim ;-)
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby casual_cyclist » Mon Jul 12, 2010 1:58 pm

This is what I was practicing in my first session even though I had not read this page yet http://www.swimsmooth.com/exhalation.html
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby GusG » Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:22 pm

Stroke correction is very good. The other tip I can give you is join a squad. If you want to improve this is way to do it quickly, it is just a lot easier to stay motivated and swim further and faster than swimming by yourself.
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby GusG » Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:23 pm

One other hint, try to practice some swims in open water not just pools. Swimming with a bit of chop in the water and also not being able to turn and push off every 50 meters makes a difference.
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby casual_cyclist » Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:32 pm

GusG wrote:One other hint, try to practice some swims in open water not just pools. Swimming with a bit of chop in the water and also not being able to turn and push off every 50 meters makes a difference.

Good advice but I might wait 'til the weather warms up a bit first :wink:
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby uncle arthur » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:15 pm

In all seriousness, and please forgive this if it seems a simple and short response.....

Go and find a Masters Swim Squad and join them.

Many of the dedicated triathlon squad swim groups I have found are full of semi gun swimmers or at least experienced swimmers. A Masters squad caters for a wider range of ages and abilities, you'll get all the benefits of sprint training, distance training, stroke correction, etc etc etc. You will eventually learn bi-lateral breathing which is breathe left stroke stroke breathe right stroke stroke. Or you can single side breath stroke stroke stroke breath stroke stroke stroke..... Once you learn how to breath both sides, you will then be able to mix it up to assist in finding a good rhythm for open water triathlon swimming, where you will also need to lift your head to spot the markers - basically swimming the way water polo players swim.....

I started swimming with a masters squad many years ago - best thing I ever did for my swimming, and the inseason competitions are damn good fun too :D

In your early days of training it is also a good idea (and perfectly OK) to get some training fins - not the full size ones. Training fins are designed to increase your kick to supplement your arms, not do away with them entirely.

To answer your other questions.....

water in your ears is something you get used to - it will happen in triathons - use aqua ear or similar after training. Some people use ear plugs, but I figure once you are racing they are just one more thing that can possibly go wrong.

Goggles - speedo are pretty good, as are zoggs, vici - go to a sports supplier and have a look - I suppose you could ask to try a few for fit and comfort.

You stop water up your nose by breathing out through your nose when your head is underwater. Breathe in through your mouth on the side, out through your nose underneath.

Budgie smugglers are perfectly acceptable AS LONG as you are at training. Shorts will fill up with water and add drag. Alternatively you could buy some tri-shorts - have a look at 2XU or Jaggad - many specials online. Do not try doing a triathlon in your ordinary cycling knicks - the chamois in tri shorts is thinner to dry out and jnot water log, but thick enough to give comfort on the bike.

A bathing cap is there to keep your hair out of the way and treamline your head (if you feel you are trying to save 0.30 secs over your nearest rival). It is not to keep chlorine out of your hair - in a triathlon they are given to you to be worn to help identify your allocated swim wave.
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby ClownBoy » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:28 pm

uncle arthur wrote:Go and find a Masters Swim Squad and join them.
.


I found this thread a bit late but +100
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby casual_cyclist » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:57 pm

uncle arthur wrote:Go and find a Masters Swim Squad and join them.

Thanks! I found one. I just need a few more sessions in the pool to get comfortable before I go along. Right now, if they saw the way I am swimming they would jump in to rescue me :oops:

uncle arthur wrote:You will eventually learn bi-lateral breathing which is breathe left stroke stroke breathe right stroke stroke. Once you learn how to breath both sides, you will then be able to mix it up to assist in finding a good rhythm for open water triathlon swimming, where you will also need to lift your head to spot the markers - basically swimming the way water polo players swim.....

Fortunately, I was able to get the hang of bilateral breathing in my first session, which I MUCH prefer to one sided breathing. I was looking at some vids on swim smooth which showed an open water swimmer combining sighting with breathing. Looks like a good skill to master.

uncle arthur wrote:water in your ears is something you get used to - it will happen in triathons - use aqua ear or similar after training. Some people use ear plugs, but I figure once you are racing they are just one more thing that can possibly go wrong.

The feeling of cold water trickling down inside my ears was horribly disconcerting and distracting in my first session. I have ear plugs for now but appreciate what you say about race day. I will be practicing open water swims when the weather warms up so will do those sans ear plugs to get used to the feeling of water in my ears.

uncle arthur wrote:Goggles - speedo are pretty good, as are zoggs, vici - go to a sports supplier and have a look - I suppose you could ask to try a few for fit and comfort.

Got them yesterday. I have another pool session tonight and didn't want to face it without goggles.

uncle arthur wrote:You stop water up your nose by breathing out through your nose when your head is underwater. Breathe in through your mouth on the side, out through your nose underneath.

Ah ha! I kinda figured that out in the first session and watching the vids on swim smooth that is definitely how they do it. I can see how that would keep water out of your nose. I have a lot of air to expel in those three strokes and breathing out mouth and nose will get rid of it quicker. I found when I didn't get rid of all of my air and was breathing out and in with my head out of the water I got out of breath really quickly. Tonight I have a couple of drills to do and one of them will be an exhalation drill.

uncle arthur wrote:Budgie smugglers are perfectly acceptable AS LONG as you are at training. Shorts will fill up with water and add drag. Alternatively you could buy some tri-shorts - have a look at 2XU or Jaggad - many specials online. Do not try doing a triathlon in your ordinary cycling knicks - the chamois in tri shorts is thinner to dry out and not water log, but thick enough to give comfort on the bike.

Basic jammers are on sale at my local Jim Kidd which look kinda like this: http://www.swim2000.com/product.php?pd_ ... M_REFERRAL

I guess they would be ok for training.

uncle arthur wrote:A bathing cap is there to keep your hair out of the way and streamline your head (if you feel you are trying to save 0.30 secs over your nearest rival). It is not to keep chlorine out of your hair - in a triathlon they are given to you to be worn to help identify your allocated swim wave.

:oops: My preferred hair cut is number 3's all over, so hair drag isn't much of an issue. I might get one later just to practice putting it on and taking it off and to get used to the feeling of swimming with one. Do they keep your head warm? Might be useful if the water is cold.

Anyway, I really appreciate the advice. It's all a bit intimidating for someone new. Swim smooth is turning out to be an excellent resource as well.
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby casual_cyclist » Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:49 pm

Back from the pool. That was just horrible! I have been reading way too much theory on how to swim (mainly from swim smooth) which is all great but the most important thing is to be relaxed in the water. That feeling of being relaxed in the water and just gliding through is amazing. Unfortunately, I didn't get to feel that tonight except for a few brief moments.

This is what I was thinking while I was trying to swim:
* long reach
* head down
* roll side to side
* bum up
* kick from the hips
* legs up (because I tend to drag my legs)
* feel pointed by relaxed
* lead from the elbow
* stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, breathe
* roll my head, don't lift it out of the water

So, I would start off nice and relaxed, stroke, stroke, oh! forgetting to roll, roll, roll feels good, mouthful of water, choke choke, stroke messed up. Start again. Nothing to kick off from.... blah!

My lap times are horribly slow. Around 1:30 for 50 metres. I am supposed to breathe in the wake but at that speed I am not creating one! I fear that I simply have no upper body strength.

For two laps I tried just swimming as fast as I could and swam 25 metres in 30 seconds, which felt a lot better but I conked out after 25 metres and had to have a rest.

I know I am probably being hard on myself because it is only my second session ever (I have never swum freestyle laps in my life) and I am really out of practice. I managed to swim 12 laps (600m) and some of the stroked felt pretty good (for a second or two in there I actually swam well).

The ridiculous thing is that I am dying to do it all again. Mostly because I know that if I can just relax and feel it, I will be able to swim well. That and it is a fantastic full body workout. I actually feel great!
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby GusG » Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:58 pm

get yourself to stroke correction classes and find a coach that wont overload you with tips. just work on one or two things in a session then when you have those sussed start working on the next one or two and build up that way. You cant work on everything at once
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby RobertFrith » Tue Jul 13, 2010 11:56 pm

Another + for stroke correction. I've done three rounds of it at Freo pool while junior has his lessons. The first coach was good, the second OK and the third fantastic. I learnt something from all of them. I was swimming 1 to 1.5 k a week beforehand. Not swimming any more now, just getting there in style!

Goggles. I must've had a hundred pairs and 99 of them leaked. I couldn't tell you the name of the best pair, but I got them at Beatty Park where they actually bother to stock a decent range and help you find a good fit.

Swimming caps are good for keeping your head from hurting if you swim in cold water! Seriously.
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby casual_cyclist » Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:50 pm

Looks like for some of us it might be a long, hard, uphill road:

http://www.dobkanize.com/why_does_swimm ... wkward.asp

but by all accounts very rewarding too :D
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby uncle arthur » Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:42 pm

You'll get there - it's like learning to ride a bike, only wet, and horizontal, and well - actually completely different..... :D

....... but my point is you only get better with time in the saddle, and with time in the saddle you can only get better. Same goes for following the black line.

If you want to "cheat" a little in the lead up to joining a masters squad, go and swim in the lane next to them - listen to the coach and follow what they are doing to the best of your abilities :) Then join in.

Oh - and get a pool bouy - it goes between your thights and makes you feel like you are swimming down hill. Us guys don't have as much bouyancy around the hips so they really help you develop a feel for the water, without sacrificing your development of core strength in the water.
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby casual_cyclist » Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:46 pm

uncle arthur wrote:You'll get there - it's like learning to ride a bike, only wet, and horizontal, and well - actually completely different..... :D

....... but my point is you only get better with time in the saddle, and with time in the saddle you can only get better. Same goes for following the black line.

If you want to "cheat" a little in the lead up to joining a masters squad, go and swim in the lane next to them - listen to the coach and follow what they are doing to the best of your abilities :) Then join in.

Oh - and get a pool bouy - it goes between your thights and makes you feel like you are swimming down hill. Us guys don't have as much bouyancy around the hips so they really help you develop a feel for the water, without sacrificing your development of core strength in the water.

Thanks! Yeah, I was reading about bouy's today. I get what you mean about swimming down hill. I noticed that when I put my head down further my legs came up and my swimming was smoother. However, I have accepted that I can't just jump in and expect to be able to swim perfectly. Freestyle is very foreign to me and I am not used to how my body is moving through the water. Breast stroke, backstroke and side stroke all feel very fluid for me but with freestyle I am constantly fighting the water and wearing myself out. So I am going back to basics. Next session I have drills to do starting with exhalation which currently feels unnatural to me, floating "downhill", gliding "downhill" (kicking off from the wall), rolls, one armed side swimming etc. So, instead of fighting the water and thrashing out 10 horrible laps and I am going to go and discover how my body feels in the water doing something that is outside of my comfort zone. My reasoning is that I love the water and love the feeling of freedom that comes from being in water. All of that should not suddenly change because I am swimming a stroke I am not used to. I have a good book which applies Alexander Technique to swimming which I will read before my next session and see if it helps. Also, I need to stop being so hard on myself and start enjoying what I am doing more. I realise that it is going to take some time to build up.
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby uncle arthur » Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:12 pm

I love that you're so enthusiastic about it - I found swimming to be my "zone" - it's hard to think about the worries of the day when all you have is breathe, stroke, line (black), glide.....

My old swim coach taught me one key thin that I remember - long, and strong. Keep your body long, and your stroke (and core) strong. Take your time feeling each stroke.

A really useful drill for you to try is called "catchup".

Put your fins on.

Grab a kickboard.

Hold the end of the kickboard at full arm's length, with each hand holding one corner (imagine your hands like sock puppets talking).

Push off the wall, with a slow steady 6 beat (as in 6 kick "beats") per 1 arm strokes - find that kick rhythm. Kick kick kick (breathe left as you do the first three) kick kick kick (head down and exhale strong through the nose on the second three), kick kick kick (breathing right) kick kick kick (exhale). The rhythm for the kick alone is a bit like a traditional waltz 1..2..3.. 1..2..3.. 1..2..3.. 1..2..3.. about 2 seconds per 6 kicks. That sets the timing for bringing in the arm drill.....

Bringing in your arms - as you breathe left, bring your left arm through it's stroke overhead (three beats), still holding the kickboard in your other hand, then let that first hand "catchup" to hold the kickboard for the remaing three, making the full 6 beats kick. Then as you breathe right, do the same thing with your right arm. Concentrate on pulling through the water with your arm, more so than concentrating on the overhand movement.

Do one 50 m length, and rest for 20-30 seconds. Push off and go back. Do this over 6 repeats to make 300 m.

Once you have the rhythm starting to come together, you can take away the kickboard, letting one hand trail stretched out in front - think long and strong - as the other hand makes the stroke. Repeat for 6x50, making 300m at a time. As you begin to speed it up and find your stroke, it will begin to look like this below - you can see how her stoke hand "catches up" to the leading hand:



Here it is again:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlfCsA81LAs&feature=related[/youtube]

Here is is under the water:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SB8JHwSVGM&feature=related[/youtube]

Thus endeth today's lesson. :)
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Re: How to start swimming?

Postby casual_cyclist » Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:24 pm

uncle arthur wrote:I love that you're so enthusiastic about it - I found swimming to be my "zone" - it's hard to think about the worries of the day when all you have is breathe, stroke, line (black), glide.....

My old swim coach taught me one key thin that I remember - long, and strong. Keep your body long, and your stroke (and core) strong. Take your time feeling each stroke.

A really useful drill for you to try is called "catchup".

...

Thus endeth today's lesson. :)

Thanks for that! That is a good drill. I will add it to my list :wink:
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