View Full Version : My first mile

02-18-2012, 09:22 AM
Actually it turned into 2km :D

My story first, i am 41 and started swimming 1 year ago after i tore my calf muscles from a very short running hobby( 2 Months )
So as part of the recovery i started swimming and all i could do was swim Ĺ a lap then walk to the end of the pool then turning around to do the same back and being exhausted from this.
A quick google to improve my swimming and thatís when TI come into it.
I only did some of the drills to improve which helped and this got me up to being able to swim 20 laps of a 25 meter pool .
Then summer come along and i have been swimming most nights in the ocean doing about 1km and up to 1.6 (1 mile)with a wetsuit on thatís pretty easy to do i found but with a few breaks along the way at the buoys that i swim around but lately i found my technique to be sliding downhill with the extra buoyancy but am loving every bit of it watching the ocean life below as i go.
So back to the pool this last week and doing a few of the drills and watching the DVD over and over i hit the pool today to only find myself feeling really comfortable with the first couple of laps and relaxed so after 20 i thought i would keep going and going and then for the magic 64 laps(1 mile) but to my shock i was holding up really well in both my strokes and times as i time each 20 laps each time i swim.
78 laps later i even had the gas in me to sprint home the last 2 laps and then stand straight up and run 15 laps that i always do after my swim session to keep the heart rate going for longer.
Although not the fastest of times to most peoples standards but right in amongst my best times everything seemed to hold up the whole way, the main things i was concentrating on was keeping balance so as my legs didn't sink keeping the recovery arm relaxed and low and trying to rotate my body at 45 degrees to keep my elbows high and with this rotation i think keeps my body more centre lined.
My times after each 20 laps were 10.58, 22.09, 33.30 and finally 44.30 making my last 20 better than my 2nd and 3rd times.
I think i could have kept going but as i was mainly breathing my right side as i seem to use a lot more energy breathing on my left side i started to feel it in my neck so next week its back to work on my bilateral breathing to maybe next time go a bit further.
Anyway sorry to rave on but i had to tell someone and a big thanks to everyone here for which i read all about each night and take in every bit of what i read.


02-18-2012, 10:24 AM
Great account. Thanks for sharing it with us. The detail you included also makes it easy to point you toward your next improvements.
The key to being able to carry on for a mile (or in your case 2km or 1.25 miles) - and feeling sufficiently fresh and strong to swim your final 500m at a brisker pace than the middle two -- is to be found in the Focal Points you listed:
- keeping balance so as my legs didn't sink
- keeping the recovery arm relaxed and low
- trying to rotate my body at 45 degrees
- keeping my body more centre-lined.

Balance, relaxation, alignment and streamlining are the Focal Points I would recommend to anyone aiming to complete their first continuous pool mile.

I applaud you for having the presence of mind to monitor 500m splits because you now have valuable 'data points' for what I would recommend you adopt as your next goal - to swim a slightly brisker mile.

I recommend this because, having swum 2km, you could progress to the swimming equivalent of a half-marathon -- 5km --by simply doing a bit more of what you've already been doing. But I'd advise you to turn your sights instead to pace-improvement for the distance you've already swum.

Mastering new skills is known to be one of the best things you can do to enhance brain function as an adult. Progressing from 2km to 5km would keep you focused on the same set of skills, you've been working on recently. But to swim 2km faster will require focus on a new set.

So here's a 'formula' for a faster 2km: Begin practicing with a Tempo Trainer (http://www.totalimmersion.net/store/gear-and-accessories/tempo-trainer.html). You didn't mention SPL during your swim. I imagine you were too preoccupied with counting laps to count strokes.

We know this about your 2km. You maintained a moderately steady pace
1st 500 10:58
2nd 500 11:11
3rd 500 11:21
4th 500 11:00
Your first and final 500s were only 2 seconds apart. Great!
But you had up to 23 seconds total variation between fastest and slowest 500. Improvement opportunity!
Eliminating that variation will immediately improve your 2km by over 30 seconds.
Can you swim it instead in 11:01-11:00-10:59-10:58 -- total of 43:58 instead of 44:30? That would be Ninja Level Pacing.

Best way to accomplish that will be to find a comfortable tempo, then swim sets of repeats adding up to 1km to 2km, where your focus is keeping SPL absolutely consistent throughout -- possibly with small increases in tempo as you go.
A fairly simple example - (I'll choose a hypothetical tempo of 1.3 sec per stroke; you'll need to experiment a bit to find one that's right for you at this moment.)
Swim 4 rounds of 5 x 100
1-5 @ 1.30
6-10 @ 1.29
11-15 @ 1.28
16-20 @ 1.27

This will involve a bit of experimentation.
Your primary goal is to keep SPL as consistent as possible throughout the set.
First experiment will be to learn how much rest you need between 100s so fatigue doesn't cause SPL to increase.
You might try resting for 10 beeps between 100s within rounds. If you can't keep SPL consistent, try 15 beeps rest, or 20.
If you satisfy goal of keeping SPL consistent for 1-5, then you can go with a slightly faster tempo for 6-10. In this instance I've suggested changing it by only a hundredth of a second.
Take a bit of a breather between rounds. Taking time to reset tempo provides the extra rest naturally.
Continue through the final two rounds in the same way. If it feels easy to maintain SPL for one round of 5 x 100, you have two choices
1) Experiment with resting for fewer beeps between 100s
2) Experiment with increasing tempo from one round to next by a bit more - .02 rather than .01 second.

Enjoy and let us know how this goes.

02-18-2012, 12:22 PM
Terry, wow thank you for the reply and direction on which i need to go which i will take every bit in and work on.

My SPL i have no idea as counting my strokes like you say takes up the only bit of brain space left at the time of concentrating of all the small details required to balance and streamline and go the distance i did as i have not spent enough time with the drills to have the small details imprinted into my style to happen naturally for the duration.

My split times i was lucky with keeping the times as i started the session right on the hour as well as having a watch with 2 stopwatch timers built in left me with only the 3rd round of 20 to remember during the session.
I always use both timers for the few times that i have been able to complete over 20 laps.

I have ordered an automatic lap counting watch that should be here this week that will take out the worry of keeping up with lap counts therefore helping me to focus more on relaxation and this will allow me to count some of the SPL's.

During drills i can achieve only SPL's of 17 (i am 180cm) but during the session i am guessing its more like 19 to 20 but i did feel as if i held a consistent stroke throughout till the end but i have a long way to go with reducing this down to a possible drill SPL of 15 which i have set as a goal fr this year.

The tempo trainer i will definitely look at as i do need to pick up the pace to be in a competitive time range to not finish last and having the stewards waiting for me at the finish line as i would like to enter some competitions next summer, open water 1.2 and 1.4 km races.

Funny enough though throughout the 1600 odd strokes with a 2 beat kick there was 2 kicks in succession in the middle of it all that i really felt like i had propelled forward but i was never able to repeat it so until the tempo trainer is ordered i'll be working on finding that hidden leg propeller point and bilateral breathing for the next week to help with the distance and maybe take a second or 2 off even before i start on your advice.


02-25-2012, 08:56 AM
Tempo trainer and watch have arrived but i am yet to try them out with the hot weather we are having with my time swimming in the cooler ocean waters for the shear enjoyment.

I have been working on increasing my speed by writing notes and reading them before i swim and then trying to pull(not push) a bit more water using a bit more energy but still not too much as to get too tired.

I have made some progress with most nights swimming a 1.2 km course at an average speed of 2.6km/h previously but last night swimming a 59:30 minute 2.8 km course at 2.8km/h (my furthest distance at a faster pace :)) and then today swimming a 1.6 km course(1 mile) at 3.12 km/h in just over 31 minutes.

So some progress made just with some note taking so hopefully with the pool exercises you suggested with the tempo trainer i can improve even further.


02-25-2012, 12:01 PM
If you have trouble counting strokes then you can have a little rhyme in your head which will give you 16 strokes. It can be anything.

Mine used to be

Ricky Martin
Jennifer lopez
and ShaKira
Bib bob, Bib bob

this is 8 strokes so if you say it twice a length you know you are at 16SPL and can work out other SPL's accordingly. the chant in your head also helps you get into a rhythmic trance for your swimming which can help with longer swims.

I know its random but its just what came in my brain that I found easy to repeat on auto pilot. I used the bib bob to re-enforce the rhythm of left to right.

02-27-2012, 07:55 AM
Thanks Andy but i'm more into AC/DC and Iron Maiden so i'm worried the head nodding may upset the balance:)

02-27-2012, 08:59 AM
Thanks Andy but i'm more into AC/DC and Iron Maiden so i'm worried the head nodding may upset the balance:)

there's the first four of your own count

ac - dc iron - maiden, two more bands and you have your chant :)

02-27-2012, 09:11 AM
ac - dc - iron - maiden - relax my - head and - glide like - van halen

There's 8 so if i can finish the lap before i can say this twice then i'll will be very happy:D

Good work Andy i'll give it a go for sure

04-08-2012, 10:11 PM
I have ordered an automatic lap counting watch that should be here this week that will take out the worry of keeping up with lap counts therefore helping me to focus more on relaxation and this will allow me to count some of the SPL's.

Hi Nick, First congrats and hitting very close to a 30min/mile pace. Believe it or not that will put you above mid pack at most triathlons, AND with 50% more energy too!

I generally swim a 50m pool, and given my age I frequently lose count of my strokes mid-way, and often just count the last 25m which preserves my brain for focal points (other than counting). I picked up a poolmate watch from swimovate.com -- it counts strokes, laps and records elapsed time (and other goodies too)! You can adjust to any pool length, 25y, 25m, 50m. The data is stored in logs/sets on the watch so you don't have to recall what you did a few sets previous - easy to monitor progress. I have found the stroke count very accurate in 50m pool, but sometimes it's a count short in 25y pool. This count is off one arm, so you double the count for complete stroke cycle, i.e. 17 strokes/50m one arm = 34 strokes/50 both arms

Tempo trainer (I believe) is one of the best training aids a swimmer can own. I call it "Coach in a cap" - set the tempo, stick the TT inside your cap and go. You can easily increase/decrease tempo by .01 sec without taking it out of your cap.

Here is a slighlty modified version of one of Terry's TT practices. It's on 50's not 500's and is a lot of fun to find your personal tempo and SPL (at lower yardage) given your height and current ability: Tempo Trainer Practice - find your best sustainable pace and SPL

Good luck, have fun, keep up the good work - Happy Swimming!


04-10-2012, 11:18 AM
Hi Nick,
Great post and thanks for sharing with everyone. Your post will not only motivate others to stick with their workouts but only encourage them to start exercises after some major accident or any serious physical issue.

04-11-2012, 10:51 AM
Thanks For the replies.

Stuart since i posted this i have purchased a swimovate watch and also a tempo trainer and i found both of these to be terrific.

I have complete another 80 lap swim and also a 100 lap swim and it was good to be able to quickly stop and start it with a button push after each 20 laps to later go back over and look at the splits later.

This week the summer has come to an end and its getting too cold for me for ocean swims so its going to be back to the pool for drills and practice for the winter to get ready to enter my first competition swims next summer and cannot wait but have i got some work to do to increase my speed and make my style anything near TI swimming and hopefully i'll have fun trying and not get to frustrated.

30min/mile, now there's my challenge for the winter