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sixtiesguy 08-19-2017 07:35 PM

Help, Endurance Sags at 50 yards
Almost a year ago, at age 64, I started swimming again, and this time chose to learn TI. Take my word for it, I've read and posted to the Forum, I've seen repeatedly many of Coach Terry's videos and lectures, and Coach Shinji's videos, including his brand new YouTube series on "Graceful Swimming", as well as Tim Ferriss' TI endorsement vid, and the one thing that continues to elude me in my indoor swimming routine is endurance. I don't use a Tempo Timer. Maybe some of the members can bear with me on this and offer thoughts:

Regrets, I don't have a video, but I'm 6 feet tall and breathe only on one side, and what seems to happen to me is that my first 25 yards of the swim session, I have my form together, my hips are propelling me forward, I can do 19 SPL and it takes me about 25 seconds. That's within Coach Terry's "Green Zone" chart for my height.....

....HOWEVER, on the return 25 yards, by mid-way, about 37 yards of cumulative swimming, I feel that my hips are no longer pushing forward with the same vigor to give my arms the help they need to propel me forward, and suddenly, I find that on my return 25, I do about 23/24 SPL. PLUS, I'm tired already! My time for 50 yards is about 55 seconds. I don't have any hip problems, and a lot of my aerobic and dumbbell strength training/stretching exercises I do daily have to do with making the hips do the work. My return hand underwater is not rigid, it's flexed so that I don't sap my strength on pulling the water (that was a problem area for a while).

....Rather than stop at the wall after the 50, I try to do backstroke lengths or sometimes TI-inspired breaststroke (12 SPL) until I feel I'm ready to resume freestyle. My swim sessions last about 30 minutes and lately I've been trying to do them daily. I'm just bummed about not having endurance to go freestyle beyond 50 yards.

Breathing: I tend to breathe every switch on the return 25, but on the first 25 I can hold my head underwater for a few switches. I do have that "laser beam for the head" TI concept in my brain. In fact, I have a lot of TI concentration in my brain as I swim; as Coach Terry likes to say, just focus on improving your next stroke.

Any thoughts on my losing TI propulsion form after about 37 yards, and how to build endurance? Many thx for your response!

Danny 08-19-2017 08:50 PM

The reason you get out of breath so quickly is probably because you are not balanced properly when you swim. Your body senses when you are out of balance and your muscles tense up in order to maintain the body position you want. This is usually what tires you out.

One important sign of good balance is if you can swim with your quads (the front muscles on your thigh) completely relaxed. If you are out of balance, these muscles are usually the first ones to tense up. So try swimming 50 yards and see how loose these muscles are when you swim.

Of course, knowing that you have a balance issue doesn't tell you how to correct it, but it does tell you where to look for solutions. Once you know that is your problem, probably other people on this forum can give you advice about learning good balance.

E.L.swimming 08-19-2017 10:52 PM

hello sixtiesguy

Sometimes the big answers are in the small details...

A conscious swimming requires thinking about so many details that sometimes we tend to forget the basics.
When we do not exhale enough air out between inhales our CO2 level in our lungs rises.
Then, our brain begins with a chain reaction of distress signs that bind the mind to breathe immediately.
Constant exhaling of bubbles repels the activation of the distress response.

Another advantage is that when you find appropriate rate of exhaling bubbles, you can reach any inhalation with almost empty lungs and thus shortening the time of the breathing stroke.

hope this helps
best regards

Talvi 08-23-2017 04:44 PM


Originally Posted by sixtiesguy (Post 63371)
... I have my form together, my hips are propelling me forward, I can do 19 SPL and it takes me about 25 seconds. That's within Coach Terry's "Green Zone" chart for my height..... HOWEVER, on the return 25 yards, by mid-way, about 37 yards of cumulative swimming, I feel that my hips are no longer pushing forward with the same vigor to give my arms the help they need to propel me forward, and suddenly, I find that on my return 25, I do about 23/24 SPL. PLUS, I'm tired already! ...

That story reminds me of my own state a few years ago. The only clue in there though is your focus on your hips. My advice would be to not put so much energy into that. It is really amazing how much wasted energy we can put into freestyle and THAT wasted energy is what is exhausting.

IMO the hip thing is not-literal but rather a feel-timing-focus thing. Try focusing on feeling supported floating and relaxed more than on propulsion. Get the feeling of lying on top of the water. Dive downwards a bit to get a hint. Then forget about reaching the wall and focus instead on just enjoying the stroking.

Lie flat on the water, slap its surface with your legs straight and extended in streamline, watch the surface of the water as you rotate (the eccentic load of your recovering arm will get that going) and pull your belly in to exhale just as the water surface cuts across your goggles so you can quickly take a full and early breath.


sixtiesguy 08-23-2017 06:33 PM

Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Based on everything about TI I've absorbed, I think the "hip thing" is central to thinking of long strokes to get length, glide and gracefulness, and not relying so much on the arms to get forward propulsion. SPL is on my mind as a barometer when I swim, largely due to Terry's published "Green Zone" chart, and if I'm in the desired 19-21 range for my 6 foot height, I feel I'm doing something right....

..but the central question remains: why I can't sustain it remains a mystery (to me). It's frustrating to me, I've wanted leisure swimming to become more central to my overall daily exercise regimen, which includes spinning, dumbbell strength training arms and core, and kickbox/MMA shadowpunch. For now, I'm in and out of the pool within 30 minutes, and I'm able to swim actively for less than that. People at the YMCA where I swim "can't believe" I'm not able to do 200 yards at a time and have never heard of my TI technique. Frustrating!!

For now, when I tire, I swim lengths of the other long stroke, the backstroke, and then also the short stroke breast stroke. I'll then return to freestyle for either a length or a lap. I bought a pair if Speedo swim gloves just to get a better upper body workout.

Looking forward to reading other Forum members thoughts on the subject! Thanks!

CoachStuartMcDougal 08-23-2017 07:03 PM

Hey Sixtiesguy,

There could be a combination of issues, but I'm certain one of them is posture and balance is breaking down after the turn and on each breath. Once those hips start to fall - it's difficult to recover and get them back to surface, drag increases, effort and need for more o2 increase quickly.

Make sure to establish "the line" (posture) off the wall, no kick - especially after your turn. Gently tuck chin, tuck belly button, head/spine/hips/ankles in line, legs gently pressed together. Countdown 3, 2, 1 - start your stroke, *then* bring in kick second; this will give you enough time to establish good posture/balance off the wall. Take a couple of strokes before taking your first breath to maintain posture and balance. And when you roll to breathe, head's probably lifting, hips sinking a bit - make sure the return head to neutral and gently tuck chin immediately after the breath.

Rest enough on 50's to breathe on 4's (every fourth stroke) for awhile until posture and balance have stabilized.


sixtiesguy 08-23-2017 07:42 PM

Thanks for your response, Coach Stu. I'll give your advice a go, and let you know...not sure it matters, but I don't currently turn at the wall...

Question: I see some older guys at the Y swim *continuous laps* with what I'll call "imperfect" traditional Red Cross style freestyle strokes, surface reach, lots of splash, and with the *continuous flutter kick*. (I learned that way 50 plus years ago).... in terms of conditioning, is that Red Cross continuous flutter kick and *balance* a function of having a strong core, or what...

...thanks for your thoughts on that!


CoachStuartMcDougal 08-24-2017 05:01 PM

Hi Sixtiesguy,

They have adapted over the years and manage a lower or low enough drag profile to swim continuous laps - but have probably plateaued many years ago. Other than improving fitness or staying fit (which is a great thing!), swimming the same speed, same rate of turnover, same stroke pattern. Terry refers to this state as "terminal mediocrity". I wouldn't say "core strong" since they're swimming "outside-in", legs and arms providing most of the stability/balance. In these cases, you will often see a swimmer with excessive head movement, lateral twisting/bending of spine. So actually going a bit soft in the core due to errors in stroke/kick movement patterns.

Keep focus on posture/balance, core tone (not tight) - don't bend yur' boat :-)


borate 08-24-2017 08:21 PM

Consistent "terminal mediocrity" may be all that's needed for staying fit - especially for seniors - though improvement is certainly desirable.

rjmathers 08-25-2017 02:29 AM

Sixties Guy, I'm in the same boat...52 yrs old, started TI 4 months ago and can now go 50 yards sometimes, sometimes my heart rate is too high and out of breath at about 37 yards and I have to roll on my back for a few breaths. It's a lot of work, not much fun, but I'm keeping at it because the Masters coaches are working with me (though they make me use kick board, pull buoy, and critique my open, spread hands and not kicking) and I am making improvements.

I did try something this week, I used a snorkel. I swam 300 meters without stopping on the wall at all, and my heart rate was lightly elevated like I was doing an easy jog. Swimming was actually fun!

I've done the Nicodemus bobs, bought the TI video "Breathing in O2", do the popeye breathing but never seen to get enough air. I'm not sure if I'm not exhaling enough, not inhaling enough, or as my coach says my body isn't conditioned to use the O2 efficiently yet.

I'll keep at it, hopefully it will click for me soon.

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