Originally Posted by a16ksb
In the last week I have returned to swimming after many many years away from it.
I am from the UK, 57 years old, weight is around (18st / 252lbs, heavy built) and would like some advice on how to be more efficient in the water.
I read the book many years ago and it really taught me alot, especially about the glide section of my style.
I have a Garmin swim and today I was doing 25m in 31-32 seconds, 50m in 103 - 110sec and 100m in 2min :19sec - 2min:30 sec, I don't do a proper turn. My stroke count is between 13 to 14
I do struggle with floating and have been told my legs drag below me.
I am a black man and there is a romour that we do not make good swimmers.
Any advice would be appreciated
Often glide and balance and used interchangeably, but it's really balance that is required and it's not negotiable. Balancing the body in the water means shifting and positioning your body over the lung ball or center of buoyancy to become level, legs light with hips high.
None of us are sinkers, we merely pivot about our lung ball, provided we have air in our lungs. Males are often much lower profile (hips legs low in water), females are generally much higher in the water - and it comes down to center of buoyancy and center of mass, every body is different. Lower profile, center of mass is further away from center of buoyancy, higher profile - center of mass is closer to center of buoyancy. Releasing my body to the water, (similar to you) my body pivots about the lungs to 70-80 degs, almost vertical in the water where hips/legs are directly below the lungs (or center of buoyancy). That's in fresh water or pool - salt water, ocean my profile is much higher, roughly 45 degrees. The lower profile swimmers will frequently reach for the pull-buoy to lift the legs/hips hips so they can swim a distance more easily, but they're only masking balance issues that need to be addressed, issues that are easy to solve.
To get your hips and legs light and high, First - balance your vessel by hanging the head no tension in the neck (refer to chapter-1 in any TI book). Our instincts are to look forward in the direction we are moving. Those of us with lower profiles, looking forward hips will drop quickly increasing drag and effort; higher profiles, back arches breaking posture. Neither are desirable outcomes looking forward.
Second, I suspect you're entering recovery arm high and flat on surface or scooping toward surface above the lungs, this will cause hips to fall immediately too. Slice recovery arm in front of head, fingertips first, send hand/arm below the lungs at forward arm extension.
Given your metrics, ~1.05/50m, 2:20/100m, 13-14 strokes per 25m. This puts you roughly at a 1.8 tempo (1.8 seconds per stroke) or 33 strokes per minute, turnover is almost in slow motion. But I suspect most of that time is your recovery arm stopping at the hip thinking you are gliding. Stopping hand at the hip is a Cardinal sin. You are not "gliding", you are "sinking" with the weight of your recovery arm hanging on to your hips - more weight behind the lungs tipping the body down, even more, adding to your imbalanced profile.
Third, I suggest getting those arms moving as they exit the water, no stopping at the hip thinking you need to glide. Get a tempo trainer and start stroking at tempos of at least 1.3 secs per stroke (or 46 spm) and faster.
In short: 1. hang the hand and/or tuck chin toward the chest (don't look forward), 2. slice in recovery hand/arm below the lungs (don't lay arm flat at entry), and 3. continuous motion with high side (recovery) arm, no stopping at the hip to glide.
Re: "I'm a black man and there is a romour that we do not make good swimmers". That is, unfortunately, a myth created by a culture that would rather have you believe you're flawed and not like everyone else. I'm European/Scottish decent, although I'm lighter at 180 lbs, our aquatic profiles are probably identical - which makes us both very human. I had coaches and other programs that led me to believe my body was flawed and one coach even suggested I should stick with hockey. The only thing that was flawed was their coaching, they didn't have a grasp of how to teach swimmers to balance their body in the water regardless of their aquatic profile, and I'm sure they never heard the word "balance" in a swimming context ever.
So you're not flawed, you will learn to balance in the water and swim very well, but it all starts with learning to balance your vessel first AND maintain balance with every stroke.
Enjoy your journey!