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  #1  
Old 02-19-2011
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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Lawrence
Default How long does it take to get good?

It has taken me two years but, within that, I would estimate about 1,200 painstaking hours. It's been a pretty intense period and I couldn't have done it without the credit crunch meaning work became quieter.

I realise 'good' is imprecise but I can't think of another way of saying it, so you're allowed to use your idea idea of what the word means.

I ask this question out of general interest but also because I've been wondering how hard it is to become a good swimmer compared with other skills one might pursue from scratch (e.g. a new language or musical instrument).

I realise the journey never ends and I agree with the philosophy of continuous improvement, but I don't think these points defeat the question.

Interested in everyone's views and personal experiences.
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Old 02-19-2011
JBeaty JBeaty is offline
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That's a good question. I have been a swimmer for years. To this day, I don't consider myself a good swimmer.

I would like to think that each practice, each year, I am taking steps to become a good swimmer. During my high school career, I was a multi state finalist that contributed points to my team's state championship victories. I scored points for my college team at our conference championship meets. During my career as a masters swimmer, I have recorded multiple Top Ten swims.

But I have never considered myself a good swimmer. Speaking for me, if I ever consider myself a good swimmer, I would lose my desire to compete and improve the mechanics of my strokes.

So my answer, I am still working towards being a good swimmer.
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Old 02-19-2011
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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Couldn't you consider yourself a good swimmer who wants to keep getting better?
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  #4  
Old 02-19-2011
JBeaty JBeaty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence View Post
Couldn't you consider yourself a good swimmer who wants to keep getting better?
No, because I am not a good swimmer. I am a swimmer through hardwork has gotten lucky by being surrounded good coaches, teammates, and races happen at the right times.

At best, I am an average swimmer that keeps striving to be a good swimmer. When I watch my strokes on video, I know there is so much work to do make my strokes better.
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  #5  
Old 02-19-2011
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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Admirable honesty.
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  #6  
Old 02-20-2011
daveblt daveblt is offline
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In the book Extraordinary swimming for everybody on page 152 Terry brings up a point about how long will it take before your stroke is perfect and permanent ? The rest of your life ! You can continue to improve endlessly. I've been practicing TI for over 15 years an still try to improve my stroke every time I go to the pool.

Dave

Last edited by daveblt : 02-20-2011 at 02:57 AM.
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  #7  
Old 02-20-2011
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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Perfect, perhaps, but good?
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  #8  
Old 02-20-2011
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Hi Lawrence

I think it's similar to learning a musical instrument. Usually progress is rapid initially and then one comes to a point at which it's easy to stop and be satisfied with modest skills. It usually takes young piano players several years to reach a level when they can consider going on to be teachers or professional performers. They can start at about age five and are usually in their late teens when they reach the diploma stage. Some (probably most) never make it that far and some seem to be born to it, but still need a lot of work to get there.

Most recreational swimmers, as you have pointed out before, never get beyond the level of modest competence, so they can swim as much as they like and they will never improve because they aren't trying to improve. Serious swimmers who do try to improve can continue to improve as long as they live, but who's to say when they are good? Competitive swimmers measure their excellence by their achievements in competition, but the serious swimmer with a more artistic approach to swimming is more interested in elegance and grace and perhaps efficiency. These are harder things to measure than time and distance, so there will probably never be a hard and fast answer.
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Old 02-20-2011
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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Richard, I accept that, but I would say Shinji is much more than a good swimmer, even if there is no exact answer to what 'good' means. Furthermore, he seems to have achieved his current stroke in 8 years or perhaps less.

Further still, every time I'm in a swimming pool I can take one look at someone and tell whether I would describe them as good, so, rightly or wrongly, I don't find myself struggling to apply the label.

In my own case, I feel I've attained the 'good' standard because I can now swim consistently in straight lines with little felt effort, no splash and a feeling of relaxation and peace, at a speed that seems to fall within the 'normal' range for those in the so-called 'fast' lane at my local pool (which includes the usual quota of amateur triathletes and more dedicated swimmers).

I don't think anyone is going to mistake me for Shinji, but I'm about a hundred times improved from the gasping, lost soul that first appeared at my local pool in early 2009. Six months ago, by the way, I wouldn't have said I was anywhere near good. But some breakthroughs seem to be quite momentous.

Last edited by Lawrence : 02-20-2011 at 08:03 AM.
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  #10  
Old 02-20-2011
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Hi Lawrence

I learned to swim in 1947, when I was twelve, on holiday in the Isle of Man (my mother was Manx). My first stroke was side stroke, which I still swim occasionally just to make sure I haven't forgotten how to do it, although I don't think I do the scissors kick correctly. I do a kind of sideways breaststroke kick instead. I also used to do the overarm side stroke, where the top arm recovers over the water rather like one-armed freestyle. My next stroke was breaststroke, which is still my best stroke, although the form I swim is probably now rather old-fashioned. I'm working on modifying it in the direction of a more modern stroke with an element of undulation in it and an even narrower kick.

Front crawl eluded me for years, although I could do a form of crawl without any kick, but then in 2006 I discovered the original Total Immersion book and in a very short time was swimming a fairly respectable crawl, with a very sporadic and uneven kick and probably much too much rotation. I took a week-long Total Immersion course in 2007 in all four strokes but my version of butterfly did not pass muster. I continued to try it and think I have got closer but it is still basically a failure. I have become deeply devoted to backstroke in both its forms but mainly back crawl at the moment - I think I'm in love. I'm hoping the work I do on back crawl will help to improve my front crawl as people say it does.

Basically I swim every day for about an hour and sometimes longer if I can. I usually do short repeats, seldom longer than fifty meters at a time, because otherwise I impede the progress of the faster swimmers. Recently I've been doing some work with the Tempo Trainer and trying to increase my turnover, although of course I realize that swimming faster isn't simply a matter of increasing turnover and that fast turnover can sometimes make you go slower.

As far as classifying myself as "good" is concerned I would prefer to classify myself as "slow", which I can confirm by looking up the rankings on the British Swimming web site. I'm told my breaststroke looks OK and I think my front and back crawl look presentable but extremely slow. I have read that with backstroke in particular it is much more important to swim correctly with good form and add speed later.
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