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  #1  
Old 05-14-2013
terry terry is offline
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Default The Evolution of a Swimmer

I'm planning to write a blog shortly on this evolution in a swimmer's purpose

Casual (Lap) Swimming

'Serious' Training

'Deep' Practice

What are your thoughts on--or personal experiences with--this?
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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Old 05-16-2013
BP BP is offline
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I like the phrase 'evolution in a swimmer's purpose'.

My evolution:

I think I began my swimming life - a few years ago - as a 'Casual lap' swimmer. I started because my eldest son was swimming for a club - and was doing rather well - so I just wanted to 'get a feel' for what he was doing. I was in the 'heads up' breaststoke category initially and then tried my hand at freestyle, based on - I suppose - a mimicry of my son's technique. Whilst I would put myself in the 'Casual lap' swimmer during this time, there was nothing casual about my struggling efforts and I was very much in the primordial swamp of a swimmer's evolution!

I then commenced lessons with a local swim coach, who - happily - happened to be a TI swim coach; which is when I feel I entered my 'Deep' practice phase. I take this to mean a 'deep' focus/emphasis on technique and drill work...a phase that I suppose I am still in. I only get about three hours a week in the pool - I would love to do more - and I primarily spend my time mindfully working through the drills/tips I am given to me by my coach, with a little bit of 'casual' lap swimming thrown in, trying to put it all together.

I don't think I have ever been a 'serious' trainer; but I suppose I would like to reach a place where I can maintain my 'deep' work and casual workings of my stokes, yet also have the space to apply some mindful yet 'serious' sets to perhaps test my speed over various distances.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by keith : 07-03-2013 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 05-17-2013
terry terry is offline
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BP
I overlooked the possibility - which is quite great - that people would bypass the 'serious' training phase, as you did.
My assumption was that many would be drawn directly into conventional training -- how far, how fast, what HR, what rest interval -- from casual swimming. Perhaps to train for a triathlon. And when that led to injury, stagnation or Terminal Mediocrity they'd look for something else and find TI and 'deep' practice.
But I suppose just as many, if not more, may find their way to TI and deep practice without first dabbling in conventional training and finding it wanting.
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Old 05-17-2013
igorner igorner is offline
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Hi,
Before TI my swimming pattern went (using your template as a standard)
1. struggle
2. even more struggle
3. retrieving my locker key from the bottom of the pool...(deep practice)

Now I simply go straight to deep practice...where I am very conscious of all my swimming motions and try to refine each time. I do try to keep track of my total distance and total time...but I don't stress over it.
I also got a combination lock. :)
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Old 05-17-2013
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Terry,

as always I'm looking forward to your blog!

Quote:
Casual (Lap) Swimming

'Serious' Training

'Deep' Practice
These includ some of my questions, I'd like to get individual answers.

When can I call my casual laps 'serious' training? What's to do what's to be avoided under any circumstance?

Is it an evolution process as you pretend, or may I work in 'Deep' practice without going through 'serious' training?

How to classify my 500-1000m swims in "march" tempo (still ridiculously slow) with a focus on most laps but just take them as I think I should while not as a summerized intent before swimming? (May be that's not of any sense in your terms?)

Do you see it as evolution in every training set or as evolution over longer time?

Aren't there all three in every stroke,... when we swim the right TI-way, are they?

And last but not least my life question: How many laps with wat strength swimming in which of your terms ist necessary to still improve to the better for 62 years old student? Not as much as possible unlike as much as necessary...

Best regards,
Werner
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Old 05-17-2013
dprevish dprevish is offline
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Default Evolution of swimming

Terry,

My progression is similar to what you laid out:
YMCA at 6 (minnow to shark)
Swim team for two years - 3rd and 4th grade
The next 30 + years of swimming w/bad form
A triathlon 3 years ago (swam mindless laps to prepare)
Then a Triathlon 2 years ago (got the TI DVD three months before that and joined the Masters). In this time frame I just took where I wanted from the training. There was improvement in the SPL from 24 to 18 in a 25 meter pool.

Then now:
Triathlon # 3 at the end of June, I am and have been for the last 6 months purposefully practicing drills and attempting to blend into whole stroke. I actually feel like I've been "dismantled" a bit. Meaning, it's been a challenge to get back to a comfortable whole stroke w/bilateral breathing as before. I'm wondering if others have noticed this and if it's normal for where I'm at. I've guessed that perhaps it's because now I'm learning how to swim through the water and not trying to swim "over" it.


Anyway,
Hope this helps
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  #7  
Old 05-17-2013
tpamperin tpamperin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
BP
I overlooked the possibility - which is quite great - that people would bypass the 'serious' training phase, as you did.
I don't think I ever got too far into the "serious training" phase, if at all. But I wanted to qualify for the Coast Guard rescue swimmer program, which meant a 500 yd swim in less than 12:00 to officially qualify, but with substantially better results needed if you actually wanted to actually pass.

Self-coaching with non-TI materials, I started barely able to complete a 25 yd freestyle (I had comfortably "swum" all my life but didn't realize I had never learned freestyle until I tried it). Over about a year of near-daily training (during which I got very fit and strong and learned a few things about balance and almost none about technique), I managed to work down to an 8:34 500 yd swim. I did quite a bit of open ocean swimming along the way, and had my first glimmerings of how mindfulness can lead to better performance. Then a shoulder injury (non-swimming related) kept me from attending the rescue swimmer school.

It was enough to convince me that long open water swims were cool--not to race so much, but just to accomplish as a heroic feat of sorts. And somewhere in there about 10 years ago I found TI. Almost immediately my focus shifted much farther toward 'deep practice' and indeed, I find that far more rewarding for its own sake than physical training. In fact, I now use swimming to learn 'deep practice' and mindfulness so I can apply it to the rest of my life--the swimming itself is just a pleasant path. And it's something I have actually become good at, which is a pleasant change for me.

I do still have ambitions for some real long-distance swims, and I'm confident I can probably complete them now. I've swum as far as 6-7 miles by myself, and have done some shorter (2-3 mile) official swim events. But the daily practice is what I've really come to value even though I haven't set a date for a big swim to train for. Yet!

Tom
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  #8  
Old 05-30-2013
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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I began doing casual lap swimming after my doctor told me that I needed to get more aerobic-type exercise. I chose swimming, in part, because I was doing volunteer youth work at the time and had recently seen some of the teens I was working with participate in high school swim meets. It had been my first encounter with competitive swimming, and when I swam laps, I was really fantasizing about being a competitive swimmer myself, in spite of the fact that, as far as I knew, there was no way an adult my age could actually do that.

It was something of a shock, though, when I got in the pool the first time, expecting to swim up and down the lanes like I had seen them do, and instead had to stop and rest after every length before swimming the next one! For awhile, my workouts consisted of swimming single lengths for a half hour. Then, on one daring day, I actually swam 2 lengths without pausing, and my workouts changed to swimming 50s, with rest periods in between, for 30 minutes. And then I progressed to doing 75s, and then to 100s, always swimming that distance as many times as I could in a 30 minute workout. I didn't pay any attention to swimming speed (after all, I "knew" I was too old to actually be able to race). My only goal was to increase the distance I could swim without needing to stop.

I kept gradually increasing my non-stop yardage until I was getting close to doing a mile non-stop, but at that point I realized that it was starting to take more than a half hour to complete the distance. So I decided that maybe I should start paying attention to my speed - not with the goal of racing, but so I could swim farther without my workouts lasting more than a half hour.

I reached this point during the summer of 1996, when the Atlanta Olympics were going on, and I thought it might be interesting to time myself swimming a distance for which world records were kept, so that I could see just how bad I was! I was swimming in a 25y pool and the world records were all for meter distances, but I calculated that 35 lengths of a 25y pool is almost exactly 800m. So I timed myself swimming 800m. It took me 23 minutes and 50 seconds, and the next time I went to the pool, I remember saying jokingly to whoever was in the lane next to me "If I can cut my times by a factor of 3, I can go to the next Olympics!"

Although I had just been joking, I was a little startled, about a week later, when I did 800m in only 23 minutes and 35 seconds! And a week after that, I did it in only 23 minutes and 20 seconds! I calculated that I was reducing my time by about 1% each week. Just for fun, I computed what my time would be in 4 years if I could continue cutting it by 1% per week, and found that it would actually be a world record! I knew, of course, that that wasn't likely to happen, but it made my workouts a bit more fun knowing that as long as I could continue cutting my time by 1% per week, I was actually proceeding toward a world record time!

I continued reducing my time by 1% each week for several months before I hit my first plateau at around 21 minutes. But by then, I had progressed to 'serious' training, and one indication of how serious I had become is the fact that I invested, for the first time, in a training aid: a ring lap timer (similar to the SportCount Chrono 100 that is available through this site, but not quite as sophisticated).

I also talked to a friend of mine who was a cross-country runner and who had begun doing athletic training on a consulting basis. He suggested that I try splitting the distance I was swimming into pieces that I could swim at a faster pace, with rest periods between the pieces, and then to gradually cut out the rest periods until I was again swimming the entire distance non-stop, but at the faster pace.

After some experimentation, I began swimming the 800m as a combination of 50s and 75s, swimming 75s until my total average time per 25y went over 30 seconds, and then inserting a 50 to bring the average time down again. Gradually over time, I found myself doing more and more 75s and fewer and fewer 50s, until finally I was swimming the entire 800m as a series of 75s. And then I began adding 100s to the mix, always keeping the average time per 25y under 30 seconds.

It was during this time that the Y where I was swimming, for the first time, had a one-hour stroke clinic for adults. For many years, they had been having a week-long stroke clinic every fall for kids, but this was the first time I know of that they had offered anything like that for adults. This first stroke clinic was on flip turns, and while a friend of mine had shown me how to do freestyle flip turns several years before that, I had never learned to do backstroke flip turns, so I signed up for the clinic, hoping to learn them so that I could swim backstroke for more than 25y at a time.

The stroke clinic was well attended, but I was dismayed to discover that they weren't planning to cover backstroke flip turns - just freestyle flip turns. But I was still glad I went, because I identified no fewer than 7 things I had been doing wrong in my flip turns. When I went to my next workout, I tried to think about all 7 things every time I did a turn, and ended up muffing every turn, because you can't think about 7 things at once. So I had to content myself with focusing on a couple of things that didn't happen at the same moment, even though I knew there were other things I was doing incorrectly. But in spite of this, the benefits were immediate: Even though I had missed my Monday workout because of the stroke clinic and even though I had largely wasted my Wednesday workout by muffing every turn, I still managed to make as much progress in my training program that week as I would normally have expected to achieve in a month!

In the next few months, I was able to correct more and more of the 7 flaws in my flip turns, though one remained elusive, and by August of 1997, I succeeded in swimming 800m non-stop in a total time of 17 minutes and 30 seconds - more than a 25% reduction in the time I had started with a year earlier! But I had also been introduced to the benefits of a different kind of training: 'deep' practice, which consisted of learning how to do something that I already "knew" how to do.

Having achieved this major milestone, the next question was how to proceed in the following year. I realized that the method I had used the first year relied heavily on being able to swim shorter distances at a significantly faster pace than I could maintain for longer distances, and the speed at which I could swim 50y hadn't dropped by as much as my 800m time had. I calculated that I could keep using the same approach for one more year at most before my 50y speed would begin to become an obstacle to further progress. So I decided to begin devoting one of my workout days each week to improving my sprint speeds.

Improving my sprint speeds, however, proved to be much harder to do. Stroking faster didn't seem to provide the speed improvements I expected, and I couldn't figure out what else to do to increase my speed. The next spring, the Y had another one-hour stroke clinic, this time on freestyle, and I signed up for it, hoping to discover technique errors similar to those I had discovered with my flip turns.

This clinic, however, was taught by a different coach, and while she said at the end of the clinic that I was the one whose stroke technique had improved the most, I didn't see any speed improvements from it. In retrospect, the clinic was a sort of a smorgasbord of coaching approaches which included tools like kickboards, pull buoys, and hand paddles, which was not taught in any unified manner, and which (I now realize) utilized arm positions that were dangerously close to those that can cause injuries.

After this stroke clinic, I tried to see whether I could improve my sprint speeds using the new techniques I had learned, and instead experienced, for the first time in my swimming career, shoulder pain. In August of 1998, when I had been hoping to see the consolidation of another year of progress, I was instead having to take a break from swimming to let my shoulders recover! I began wondering whether this was going to be the conclusion of my quest to see whether I could really, at my age, become a competitive swimmer: that my joints could no longer adapt to the movements required for the speeds needed to win races. But I had enough contact with the swimmers on their kids' swim team to know that some of them were also having shoulder problems at that same time.

It was around that time that I became aware, through several different avenues, of the existence of a program called Total Immersion, which seemed to be a center of controversy but which some people, including the aquatic director at the Y, highly recommended. So in February of 1999, I went to a TI weekend workshop. I was a bit apprehensive because some of the things they were asking us to do were uncomfortably similar to drills we had done at the Y stroke clinic. But at no time did I experience any shoulder pain, and as I continued practicing the drills after I got home, the residual shoulder pain I had been experiencing gradually went away. Terry also taught me a drill at the workshop which allowed me to overcome the one remaining technique flaw in my flip turns that I had identified at the stroke clinic in 1997 but had never been able to overcome (because, I now realize, the flaw had become an engrained muscle memory).

Total Immersion proved to be the realization of the 'deep' practice approach which I had realized, after the flip turn stroke clinic I had attended in 1997, was the key to achieving my swimming goals. I participated in my first swim meet in 2002, and have, since that time, continued to set new personal best times each year!
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  #9  
Old 09-07-2013
dougalt dougalt is offline
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I'm planning to write a blog shortly on this evolution in a swimmer's purpose
Casual (Lap) Swimming
"Serious" Training
"Deep" Practice


Terry,

These categories of Purpose seem to be constrained by "swimming competition" and "indoor pool" mind-sets. Many other categories could be operative:

• Desire to "look good in the water' to peers (especially those of opposite sex)

• Need to get from "Point A" to "Point B" (especially if opposite sex members are at "Point B")

• Desire to just "burn calories" by spending hours in the water

• Desire to exercise, gently, a large percentage of the muscles in the body

• Physical therapy for injuries

• Desire to "prove something", such as my cold water swims (including 150 yards in Minnesota this April in the 37º St. Croix River - had to wait a few days for a clearing in the ice cover to melt)

• Pursuing "Kaizen" philosophy at levels that are more focused than "casual", but which may not reach the level of "serious"

This last-described level is where I seem to fit in - I concentrate on improving my technique whenever I'm in the water, but I am not "serious" enough to fret an inordinate amount if I don't get to the water for a few days, or if water conditions once I get there cause me to swim less time/distance than would have provided the best training effect.

I DO, however, manage to keep an accurate log of my swims and distances: from Jan 1st through Aug 31st of this year, I seem to be stuck with "thirds" - I've swum just over 1/3 of the days (86 days out of 243, with 54 of them being in Open Water), averaging just over 1/3 of a mile each swim (.36 mile, to be exact).

This probably wouldn't be called "serious", but it is certainly more involved than "casual".

Perhaps many more "purposes" would emerge if swimmers were asked,
1 - Why did you START swimming?
2 - Why do you swim NOW?

Regarding the "Point A to Point B" concept mentioned above, I find it curious that I don't encounter people who view swimming as a method of transporting themselves from one place to another.

During my high school years, I practically "lived" at the two lakes in Matawan, NJ. Swimming was used to get FROM the point-of-entry dock I was allowed to use TO other points around the lake, such as boat houses, trees and bridges that we would dive off, rope swings, and, of course, docks on far shores where certain females had permission from those dock owners to "hang out". Self-imagined bonus macho points were earned by "arriving" via water...

Following this "transport" thought thread a bit farther out, are there any swimmers out there who commute to work by swimming?

Just having a bit of fun with this...

Doug

Last edited by dougalt : 09-07-2013 at 01:01 PM.
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  #10  
Old 09-08-2013
CoachLuisaFonseca CoachLuisaFonseca is offline
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I started with "serious training" - I learned to swim when I was 7 and started competing when I was 8. I retired from competitive swimming when I was 18, and I didn't swim for a year or two.
Then I participated in an open water event by chance, and I enjoyed the whole experience so much that I felt the need to return to the pool. Once I started swimming again, I felt a bit lost, because until then my swimming had always been defined by the competitive context, and suddenly I had no concrete purposes. But I kept swimming because I felt it was bringing a certain positive quality to my everyday life and I felt like it made me feel "clearer" as a person, it had some deep mental and emotional effect on me. So I wondered if I could actually find a way to work more directly on that dimension of swimming, and I dedicated my swimming to that. During that process I found Total Immersion. I swear, I remember when I first found the webpage I had that sort of huge relief you feel when you realize you're not alone in your "misfit" ideas.
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