View Full Version : Manatees get there slowly

07-30-2013, 10:37 AM
After just over 18 months, I've gone from a thrashing gasping 25m 'swimmer' to swimming my first mile and a bit (2000m)non-stop, last night.
All thanks to TI swimming, especially Terry and the coaches, Charles, and all the posters on this site, I've read the lot even the one's I couldn't understand! all provided insights and ideas that have helped.
As Terry said it is good to be able to do something (anything!) better at age 66, than at age 16 ;)
I've not been the most dilligant pupil mostly twice a week for about an hour going through the various drills and whole stroke swimming.
I reached many plateaus along the way, sometimes feeling I was getting nowhere and was just too old, but luckily this forum showed there were others in the same boat (or in the water!), in particular Talvi's experiences were almost a perfect match, his ups and downs mirroring my own.
I have been swimming in the sea for the last couple of weeks seeing if my TI form would hold together, the extra buoyancy and waves makes the feel different, and I had to concentrate more to banish the feel of cold water. Last weekend swimming across the incoming waves I noticed I was being forced more on my side which created a pleasant side to side pendulum effect as the wave passed, which seemed to create drive without effort, from which I deduced I had probably been swimming too flat. I had had a session with coach Toby who had picked up that in skate my arm was too close to my centreline and instead of correcting this, I have been swimming flatter, which made the arm seem further over :o So back to the pool, with this and Charles's advice to Mike in NS to slow down, to find my 'walking' pace, and the incentive of Talvi getting his mile. Finally it all came together.
I think it was Andy in Norway who said that it takes about 18 months to come together and in my case he was right.
So now to make it look better and speed up a bit, tempo trainer on order.
Thanks again, to all posters.
Stuart :D

07-30-2013, 02:43 PM
Thank you for sharing your breakthrough, and a bit on what led to it, with us. I have no doubt there are more than a few who will read it, who occasionally experience some of the self-doubt you felt along the way. Your post will surely give them more confidence and perhaps even a sense of direction.

As you may have read in some blog or forum posts, a key attribute of those who eventually rise to the level of Mastery has been to adopt the attitude of Loving the Plateau when they encounter those inevitable periods of progress that slows or seems to stop. What helps them do so is the insight that there are periods where incremental change--at the neural level, below the threshold of our awareness--continues to accumulate day by day if you stay constant with purposeful practice.

Did you learn anything of value when you encountered plateaux?

I smiled when I read of how you found the side-to-side pendulum sensation to be pleasant. That reflects working with, not against, wave action.

07-31-2013, 12:38 PM
Sooooo happy you mentioned this on the other thread or I might have missed it!!! And now I can again say:

CONGRATULATIONS dear manatee :)

What fantastic news!!! Well done!! You've really made my day.

...Last weekend swimming across the incoming waves I noticed I was being forced more on my side which created a pleasant side to side pendulum effect as the wave passed ...

That's one of the things I got from my time in the forest. I find it elusive but it's so nice when it comes.

btw If I haven't said and you hadn't realised before then I have to say that your support has really been a lift for me too. I feel like breaking into a refrain of "..hands across the ocean.." :)

Time for more celebratory tipples!! :)

Hang on, 2,000 m, that's nearly 400m MORE than a mile ! And as someone once wrote to me:-
... you leave me splashing in your wake! ... now you've raised the bar ... have some pity!
I told you, you'll be doing marathons in no time!! :)

07-31-2013, 04:39 PM
I like to think these plateaux are more like steps, some of which are large landings between flights of stairs often twisting you around and giving new insights, before sending you on your way. A bit frustrating at first but once I accepted the advice to relax and enjoy where I was and that sooner or later I would get there I was fine, it's this must have it NOW world we live in, it unfortunately rubs off on everything we do.

I have never had any sporting prowess but was a keen small boat sailor with an interest in their design, which was what first attracted me to your system. It fitted in with my ideas of good sailboats and sailing, long easy waterlines, good form, balance, maintaining a flow over the hull and sails, centres of effort- if the helm is heavy adjust the sails, even the fingers slightly spread made sense (tightening the foresail too close to the mainsail stops the flow between the sails just like water between the fingers). There's nothing worse than sailing with everything over tightened so even the controlled relaxation is the same.

I'll never win a swimming race but I think that I will now always swim as it keeps me fit, even the Docs impressed with the numbers (for a man my age :rolleyes:) and will continue to try and perfect the TI style, it just looks so right when done by the experts yet pleasurable and absorbing for beginners. So in twenty years who knows?

Thanks :) the feeling is mutual some of those 'sloughs of dispond' were a little deep it was good to have someone around to fish you out, even if only a Manatee. I think your best advice was to not be afraid to go back a step or two.That and knowing that your progress was uncannily mirroring my own, it's probably this 18 months thing.
A glass or two has aready been taken, as Jersey is a Tax haven booze is cheap (the one compensation for the working man who has to live here) so a bottle or two was more like it Hic :D
The 2000m was your fault, I was following your advice and didn't intend to even try for the 64 lengths. I was just going to try slowing down more and to see if I could get a little bit further on my side so after a length I thought I'd carry on and do 10 laps (there and back 50m) holding this form so 500m came up easily so another 10 made it 1000 and there was no point stopping then so at 3000 I thought just in case I'd miscounted I'd better do another 10 = 2000m! about 40 min and heart rate 120 at the end, caused by grinning!
I'm toying with the idea of seeing if I can do a mile in the sea just to reassure myself it was not a fluke. I'm hoping it will warm up another degree or two, my nearest beach has two slipways almost exactly half a mile apart - there and back along the shore at high tide? - I'll keep you posted.

My advice (for what it's worth) to all beginners is to keep at it, it will come, some grasp it easily, the rest of us take a little longer but you will swim a mile, if I can anyone can, and it's an amazingly satisfiying achievement the one drawback is, you too will be stuck this silly grin :o

08-03-2013, 07:57 AM
About 30 yrs ago with a few friends I crewed a square rigger to the Channel Islands and our first port of call on the trip was Jersey! We dropped anchor a few hundred metres out and rowed ashore. The sun was hot, the sea felt warm, the ship looked close, so I thought I'd swim out. She seemed further than she loooked, but I kept going, shimmying up the anchor rope with a sense of accomplishment. On board though I was quickly cold, despite the sun, and, as my clothes were on the shore, I felt I had no alternative to diving back overboard! The water felt in turns icy then warm, and as I swam a feeling of tiredness grew. I became simply fed up with swimming. It's a hard thing to describe. It wasn't that feeling of wanting to reach the other side. I just felt like stopping swimming. When I finally walked up the beach I realised I had tunnel vision. Children stopped and stared as I lurched like a drunk towards my friends. Not long after we went to get some lunch but as soon as we turned into the shadows of the houses I couldn't go on. I needed sun. The sand was hot and welcoming. I burrowed in, and the next thing I knew, my friends were preparing to return to the ship.

I realised it had been my first taste of hypothermia. It's a problem I have with my OW swimming here too.

My own ability to keep going is a state of mind more than a physical limitation but no less real because of that. My 1km was in open water, along a 110m island shore which, until I charted my progress on a map, I hadn't realised curved so much that it's actually not possible to see more than 25m "ahead". Doing repeated laps along that is something I can do relatively easily, but, starting from the same point, doing much more than one lap across the 105m bay on the other side defeats me still ! The distance is virtually identical but the experience is totally different. My mile was in a pool but, staring across various stretches of open water, it makes no sense!

What did you mean by "to see if I could get a little bit further on my side"?

I'm envious of your three stroke breathing because it enables better balance between sides. Mine settles into a two stroke pattern as distance increases, with my out-breath following immediately my head submerges, in much the same way as I breath when I become tired jogging. In this I never hold my breath. I just time in-breaths to coincide with not being underwater! Three stroke breathing entails much more control of out-breaths though, and that's where I start getting into problems. Any thoughts?

08-04-2013, 10:41 PM
30 years ago I used to regularly sail a little quarter tonner, I probably sailed around your boat, we may of exchanged waves!
I went for a swim this afternoon, the water is a bit warmer especially very close to the shore but I would not want to try diving off a boat anchored any distance off.

I am trying swim along the shore but I don't find it easy, unlike a pool there are no lines on the bottom and the waves mess up the timing and my form feels unstructured and fragile. The other problem is there is no way of measuring the distance or speed as you swim and when you stop to check it seems as if you've covered very little distance. I miss the pool lane lines giving me an idea of how fast I'm moving, or if I'm moving at all! just more practice required I suppose, it's like starting again.

The 'getting more on to my side' was reference to an impression I had that I was swimming too flat when on my right side, that I needed more rotation, but I think it was an illusion. I must get a video of myself swimming as my imagination sometimes runs riot.

Don't get me thinking about breathing, at present I'm running on automatic and I breathe as and when required on either side. I don't know why but it has just clicked. One thing that I changed in the pool was I started using a nose clip as I was suffering from sneezing and a running nose for hours after swimming. It was difficult to start with but once I got used to the idea of breathing out through my mouth there was no problem and it is easier to trickle the air out. I don't know if it would help but might be worth trying breathing through your mouth. The only trouble was when I started and forgot about the clip and found I could not breathe out you get this sudden jolt when you try and a moment of panic but I suppose it reminded me that I had the option to breathe both in and out through my mouth. In the sea I don't use a clip and I don't know if I'm breathing through my nose or mouth, I'll have to check.

A Manatee :rolleyes:

08-05-2013, 06:45 AM
.. I probably sailed around your boat, we may of exchanged waves!..
What a great thought :) and thanks for those answers.

I try and avoid windy conditions as my focus gets dragged into the experience of the waves, but I know what you mean when you write that ".. there is no way of measuring the distance or speed as you swim and when you stop to check it seems as if you've covered very little distance".

Visibility in the lake here is only about a foot, so as soon as your head goes under it's like swimming in a brown pea-souper! Maybe a bit like you, I found this disorientating and disconcerting, but I've since turned it to exercise the "non directedness" in my practice. It's a work in progress (!) but it does force a focus on being in the moment and swimming perpetually i.e "on the spot".

Swimming just in order to swim, rather than to get somewhere, is a challenge:- "..bbbut ..if there's no end, then....Noooooo!". There's a contradiction in this. If we're truly swimming for the joy of it, rather than to break barriers/records etc, then "swimming-on-the-spot" should pretty much be where it's at. So why do we aim to finish? Would a manatee want to stop swimming? ;)

This seems to me to also tie in to the contributions of Charles and others on the "Continuance" thread :)

BTW and fwiw I seem to have discovered that I can float on my back (without kicking at all) if I stretch my arms back over my head. For me, learning to be lazy and at peace in the water seems to really help my ability to practice.


Swam a lap across a 500m bay today. It was actually 1100 and 1200m as I kept drifting off to the breathing side (and into the reeds and lillies!!)! I was really very nervous about setting out but the greatest difficulty (besides my "flat tyre"!) turned out to be the fear. Having done it the lake doesn't look the same anymore. I guess that'll wear off a bit, but wanted to suggest that if that pier-pier route is safe I'd say go for it :)