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Old 05-12-2009
whegardt whegardt is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 5
Default Trouble swimming straight

I've been practicing TI methods using the Easy Freestyle DVD for about 6 months. I've made pretty good progress and can swim 2000m in the pool w/o a problem whereas before I'd be exhausted after 50m. I'm sure my form still needs much work, but my biggest problem now is that in open water, I don't always swim straight and can't seem to figure out why.

In a pool, I usually swim in the last lane of the pool that is narrower without a stripe on the bottom and sometimes swim with my eyes closed. I rarely have any trouble bumping into the side of the lane, but put me in open water with a wetsuit on and look out. I'm off course within a few strokes though not always.

I always breath on my left side and veer to my left as well. I could practice breathing on my right and alternate sides to see if that helps, but I think I'd be zigzaging and wasting energy. Better to correct my form errors.

If I'm swimming in the ocean I often feel a little dizzy when I get out of the water - don't know if that could be related.

I plan to get some instruction from a TI instructor as soon as I can afford it.

Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone has any advice. Do any of the other TI videos or books address this issue?

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Old 05-12-2009
ynotcat ynotcat is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 32
Default Zig zagging

I'm working on the same issue. In open water, I tend to veer right when I'm breathing on my left side, and I end up veering left when I breath to my right. I typically take 6 to 8 breaths on one side, then switch to the other side, with a quick sighting during the transition stroke. In the Easy Freestyle video, there is a demonstration (lesson 5 or 6 I think) of how a wide swinging recovery will tend to veer you off course. In my case, I tend to swing the arm on my breathing side wider on recovery than my other arm. After discovering this by watching the video, I started focusing on keeping the breathing side recovery more compact. I also focus on spearing the breathing side arm a bit more to the outside. I have gotten straighter in my swimming, but I still have more work to do on this, especially when I am tired. I swam in a 1.6 mile O.W. race yesterday, and in the last 1/2 mile my zig zagging started up.
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Old 05-12-2009
AWP AWP is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 575

What I have found in my experience is a swimmer will tend to 'push' themselves one way or the other as they spear forward if their focus on "wide tracks" is lost or they're crossing over, even a bit. Cumilatively that can add up to a well off, mis-directed path.
In these instances (whegardt & ynotcat) it seems as if one may be 'pushing' over before the breath and the other after the breath. Perhaps some practice on wide tracks with a quiet entry may begin to help. Become hyper-aware of alignment on each side. Maybe while practicing mix in as many non-breathing strokes as is comfortable to develop a sense of the feeling you need to attain/maintain while 'checking' to see that in fact your extended arms are in line with your shoulders and not moving in (or out too much), especially on only one side. If this is comfortable then maybe begin cycling through breathing patterns ie. 2l 2r, 3l 3r, 4l 4r... and then again, focused on your nice quiet wide entries ( it does help to visualize tracks/rails that you follow, or drawing a line forward as you recover).
Now you can practice this same thing with different tempos!
Much fun

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Old 05-13-2009
naj naj is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 624

Allan you make great points but one thing that has not been said is the issue of currents, ebb tides, flooding etc, these can contribute to the feeling that one is not going straight. In fact in a decent current (doesn't have to be strong), you can very easily veer off from where you want to go. I'm wondering when these guys have been swimming in open water if they swim with or against the currents, are they in a cove or exposed to all manner of twists and turns the ocean or Bay can give them? Yesterday I had a strong wind coming off the water and the white caps were brutal even in the cove, but I swam into the current slightly and this caused me to veer to where I wanted to hit my landmark. I like what Coach Leslie says about your arms, "they're like steering wheels, so go the arms so goes the body! But the currents have a bit to do with it as well."
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Old 05-13-2009
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CoachDave CoachDave is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 249
Default Straight swimming tips

Lots of good pointers here. A few more things to try

In a double-wide lane (one lane wide is probably too narrow to really learn), swim some lengths blind. You know your stroke count, so if you haven't bonked into something by one shy of that number, open your eyes then to finish. Try some lengths breathing on the left, some breathing on the right, some bilateral, some not at all (for as long as it lasts). Try some including a sighting motion every few strokes. See where the problem is most pronounced and tackle that aspect of your stroke. This works even better in still open water. Take 30-40 strokes and check the same things.If you are straight when not breathing but when breathing on the left you veer left, you are probably breaking posture to roll your head to the left, crossing your right arm to stabilize, or widening your kick to stabilize in a way that you don't on non-breathing strokes.

Remember that wandering left on one side and right on the other do NOT cancel each other out. Every stroke should take you forward, without another direction vector to it. Diagonal vectors can still overlap and get you there, but not as quickly.

Lastly, many people don't realize that the sighting motion itself makes them move off course. If you lose symmetry with the breath to sight or sight to breath motion, trying to see your direction may be ruining your direction. I recommend separating the sighting motion from breathing so that you don't keep the head up as long and are not prone to going off course on the way to or after a breath.
Dave Cameron
Total Immersion Master Coach
Head Coach- Minneapolis YWCA Otters and Masters and MN Tri Masters
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