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  #1  
Old 06-08-2009
atreides atreides is offline
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Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 293
atreides
Default How Do I Build Endurance?

Almost a year ago, I decided to "learn" to swim again. As a kid I had learned to swim at the local pool and was good enough to earn a swimming merit badge in the Boy Scouts. The only problem was that I did it by swimming the side stroke for 100 yards. Even then I knew that I didn't like freestyle.

Fast forward 40 years and here I am again. I started with the the TI materials and tried to do the drills. At almost the same time I decided I would accelerate the process by obtaining instruction at my athletic club. The well meaning instructor knew nothing of the TI method and taught me in the traditional way. I could barely move a kick board but nevertheless tried. I got to where I could "swim" 25 meters but it was usually an all out effort which resulted in near hypervintillation. A "masters" coach told me to where fins which helped immensely. I could streak through the water barley stroking at all. But a month later, I tried to swim without them and found that I was just as exhausted after 25 meters as before.

I came back to TI and this time discovered body position, active streamlining with body rotation. And finally the two beat kick which relieved a lot of the exhaustion that I was feeling in the water.

I don't have that sinking feeling anymore and can comfortably swim 25 meters and have recently began to do 50's. But that's where I need help. When I breathe every other stroke, I do just fine but when my heart rate begins to climb I tighten up and feel like I want to stop. So I do. I'm a runner and generally the first 10 minutes of a run are the hardest. But once you settle in, you can generally get through what you want to do even if you don't really feel like it. Since a lot of you swim hundreds if not thousands of meters in a session, how do you get to that point? Do I need to just gut it out and break through whatever mental barriers that I have built up. I am very tall at 6'7" with long legs. Is this holding me back? I notice that I'm not clearing my lungs totally when I breathe every other stroke. I do when I breathe every 4th stroke but I get into oxygen debt so I go back to every other stroke. How do I get to the same point as I am when I run? That is, that I can swim as long as I have energy stores. I'm not worried about speed. I just want to go up and down the lanes comfortably. Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 06-08-2009
jpanzer jpanzer is offline
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Location: Fairfield, CT
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jpanzer
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It took me a long time to be able to "just keep going" in the pool. A very long time. I also come from a running background and started from zero on the swim. It's hard to pinpoint what your problem is but my experience was about comfort and balance and how they affect breathing. I constantly worked on these things until finally the laps started to build.

Comfort - are you sure you are really comfortable in the water, exhaling enough and generally feeling relaxed? I swam for months without kicking at all. Kicking even a little turned into a panic kick and prevented me from really swimming. I also did some swimming with fins just to get the feel of swimming longer. Finally, using a pull buoy once I became tired swimming without it helped me to go longer. Also, I almost never try to swim fast. I just try to relax and watch my stroke count. I am getting faster without doing any speedwork.

Balance - this is where I finally started to really swim - feeling really supported by the water, exhaling under water, allows me to float along and breathe easily. I can really feel the difference when my head is in the right position. Swimming with fists helped a lot here.

Comfort and balance are closely linked and solving these two problems got me swimming longer in the pool.

Hope this helps.
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  #3  
Old 06-08-2009
CoachBrian CoachBrian is offline
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The suggestions about balance and comfort are excellent, and essential.

Going from 25 meters to 50 meters is (someone check me on the math here) nearly double the distance. Most runners don't train for a 5K and then do a 10K. Perhaps you should increase your distance in smaller bits. For instance, you can swim 25, make your turn, and then see how many strokes you swim until you feel your stroke breaking down. Stand up or go to sweet spot to finish the length. Gradually add strokes after the turn until you can do 50M, and continue from there.

And note that I said to go until you feel your form break down. It's okay to be a bit uncomfortable.

Another way to increase distance is by altering the number of repeats and the rest time between repeats. For instance, you could swim 20 by 25M with 20 seconds rest. When that becomes comfortable, do the same with 15 seconds rest, then 10 and 5. If you start feeling good about swimming 50 meters with the previous method, you can start sprinkling in a few 50s. For instance, swim 4 rounds of 4 by 25 plus one by 50, using whatever rest is required to maintain your form. As it becomes comfortable, reduce the rest, or add more 50s.

I would suggest you use both methods, either in the same workout, or on alternating workouts.

I assume you don't breathe to both sides. If you feel that breathing every 2 strokes is too often, but every 4 strokes is not often enough, try breathing 2, 4, 2, 4 and so on. Also, use swim and nod drills to develop your other side.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, remember these two things:

1. Endurance is the ability to repeat the same efficient stroke for a distance of your choice.
2. The best reason to swim longer is more opportunity to imprint efficient habits.
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  #4  
Old 06-08-2009
atreides atreides is offline
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atreides
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JPanzer,

Thanks for the tips on balance and comfort. I have to admit that it has taken some time for me to get comfortable in the water. But for the most part, I think I'm pretty comfortable. As to balance, I could probably get better especially when I rotate on my right side. I'm not sure I'm gliding well enough on my left hand pull. I'm pretty sure I rotate well enough on my left because if I don't , then breathing become problematic. This weekend I began counting strokes which caused me to accentuate gliding more which caused me to feel longer in the water. So I'm going to emphasize minimizing SPL which should improve my balance and comfort. I think I was at 13 or 14 strokes per 25 meters. I think I can easily improve that by being more patient. I wish I could do more of the TI skating drills but when I try skating on my right side the results are pretty disasterous. My left side is much better but all of that flutter kicking is more exhausting than just swimming with a two beat kick. One day I can raise the money for a workshop and someone can show me how to do the drills properly.

Coach Brian,

Thanks for the work out routines. I will implement them on my next swim date. I've been swimming on the week ends mostly. Either Fri, Sat, Sun or Sat and Sun. I run every other day so on some days I run and swim (well there's not much swimming on run days). To become more proficient do you recommend at least 3 days a week or can I get it done the way I'm going about it now. I think I know the answer to this question (I probably need to schedule at least 3 days where I do nothing but swim) but would be interested to hear your reply.

When I swim a 50, I can usually maintain good form throughout. It just that close to the end I start to get reminded of the bad ole days and so I don't want to continue. I also have this thing about stopping mid-lap which I use to do regularly before I got better. I usually rest until I know I can swim at least a complete lap. Maybe stopping but taking less time to start up again is a beter approach. Thanks again for your routines and insights.
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