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segressel54 07-13-2015 02:16 PM

How do I do more lengths?!
I am working on increasing my laps. I use to be only able to do one lap before stopping (25m). Since then I have concentrated on my inhale and exhale technique, have tried relaxing my head and neck in the water, slowing down my strokes. I am now able to do two lengths, stop, 2 lengths, stop, etc.
I want to be able to push it further and do more laps without stopping but my heart rate gets so high I feel like I have to stop.

Is this normal? When will I be able to push through this "wall"? It is getting frustrating. Any suggestions?

Richardsk 07-13-2015 04:55 PM

A trick that has been suggested before is the following:

You know you can swim two lengths.

Swim two lengths as easily as you can, and when you come to the wall, instead of stopping, turn and push off. When you surface, either take one stroke or stand up, depending on how you feel. You have now broken the two-lap barrier, which is probably more psychological than physical.

From this position you could then try swimming the rest of the length, turning and swimming your usual two lengths. You have now almost swum three lengths.

Another possible approach is to swim your two lengths, turn, roll on your back and swim a length of backstroke or breaststroke, if either of those are in your swimming armoury. Most people find back or breast easier because breathing is easier. I certainly do.

CoachStuartMcDougal 07-13-2015 05:04 PM

Hi segressel54,

This is the most common problem with new and novice swimmers, and often swimmers that have been struggling for years. Time to turn off the busy kick. Lot's of kick is the most common culprit and where the o2 demand is greatest (the legs). Quiet the kick. If your hips are low increasing drag profile, effort goes up crawling your way across the length. You will need to learn the skill of balance in both drill and freestyle to build a solid foundation that doesn't trigger fast arms and busy legs to remain stable.

The Ulta Efficient Freestyle Tookit (eBook and videos) is the best place to start with the progression building a solid platform, *Balance* that will allow you to be streamline and slip through the water with far less effort than you are currently experiencing.

Enjoy the journey!


Mike from NS 07-19-2015 08:50 PM

Hi segressel54,

I started a thread a couple of years ago on this subject. The thread, which went on for 11 pages was titled " a question regarding "continuance"".

There were many helpful suggestions made --

I think my personal greatest hindrance to swimming lap after lap is a level of dedication less that what it should be. With greater dedication in combination with all that was suggested, I feel my continuance would be .... continuous.

I have improved quite a bit and 50 M is matter of fact still but much more is a struggle. Now that I am back at the "summertime" pool I will be working on this each day.

All the best ...

Streak 07-19-2015 09:29 PM

Mike I was in the same position as you and others.
I was also doing 2 lengths at a time and resting for no real reason other than thinking I needed to. I did this for a year or so.

Then one day I arrived at the pool and said to myself enough of this. I am in the water for 30 minutes but spending more time resting than swimming. So I just got in and swam 4 x 25. After realizing it was not so bad I slowly started increasing.

This was before TI. Now in the same time I get a whole lot more lengths done with improved DPS.

So yes Mike, get more dedicated and swim more laps!

lloyddinma 07-20-2015 01:31 AM

Hey Segressel54,

the technique will help. But there is still a component of stamina that comes from swimming consistently over time. This I believe explains that guy in the pool, swimming with bad form, but is able to do countless laps.

He has been swimming for years and conditioned his heart and lungs.


junkman 07-20-2015 02:36 AM

I ride bikes and can go for miles slightly running a slight oxygen debt. I swim a lap and stop but have an oxygen debt lower that what I can continue to function with on the bike.

I "think" the trick is simply to turn and continue swimming while maintaining whatever is my current focal point. Tomorrow's focal point is weak side breathing while staying level, not coming up for air and continuing as much forward motion as possible when breathing.

I seem to travel further when not breathing and everything I read points to losing streamline. The answer is ALWAYS streamlining. Whatever takes you off path or sticks out and drags must be put back in line. Simple concept...difficult to implement.

Mike from NS 07-20-2015 02:03 PM


I agree ... there are several of us in this boat that wants to swim farther without stopping. The most consistent comments a couple of years ago spoke to "just doing it!" Without the dedication, which produces focused and goal oriented practices, we tend to become sloppy. When this happens we can become frustrated that years of practice have yielded little improvement. (Ignoring the requirement of dedication to the "cause".) I tend to think if and when I fix my breathing all else will flow better. However, as junkman points out, the aspect of being streamlined plays a huge part ... just as does being balanced.

A girl I see at a local pool who swims non-stop - length after length. I asked her secret. She says she feels she could go on all day because she constantly is breathing out. Hmmmmm ... we've all heard this before here. She isn't a TI disciple but she has the breathing down!

I'm headed for the pool in an hour and today will focus on being streamlined and breathing out more consistently -- and see if this helps. Nothing new ... but maybe more goal oriented this time.

tomoy 07-20-2015 05:46 PM

Undoubtably, swimming farther without stopping requires dedication and breaking through mental hurdles. However whenever I watch swimmers (including myself about 8 years ago) who have to stop every lap or two, it's clear that they're flat out winded. Even if they're in good cardio shape. If they're not, the process of learning (say 3-months of trying to improve) will inherently build their cardio capacity.

They key is to burn less energy while swimming. I'll make up some numbers: it seems like beginning swimmers use 80% of their muscles, constantly firing. It looks like thrashing or horizontal hip-hop. Conversely, it seems like good distance swimmers are using about 30% of their muscles.

Anyway, it is totally normal. I'll second Coach Stuart - learn the techniques of balance in the water (get those feet up w/o kicking), streamlining. Gotta relax. That'll get you there. Some keys to my learning were Terry's talks:

novaswimmer 07-22-2015 01:03 AM

I echo Coach Stuart's advice. Work on balance in the water.

This way your legs and hips will avoid sinking. Then as you rotate to breathe, that air will be available to you without having to panic and do extra-hard kicks with legs and/or downward movements with arms just to catch that air. Those movements are more exhausting than you realize. And once panic sets in, it's hard not to just stop and catch your breath. Once you finally are assured that the air will be there, you will begin to relax and swim with less effort.

This means, practice the drills that teach proper body position - or if you are working on full stroke, be extra mindful of body position and a streamlined form as you swim. And practice, practice, practice! This can all take months! Or weeks, depending on where you are at.

After 18 months of fairly serious commitment to this, I am finally beginning to feel more ease in swimming. I'm still slow though. And it took a lot of practice, plus I can't tell you how much water I swallowed or inhaled in the process!

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