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  #1  
Old 01-08-2013
casper4x447 casper4x447 is offline
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Default New to "freestlye" - sinking in zipperswitch prep

As the title implies, I'm new to freestyle swimming and needing a little help with sinking.

I'll get us started with a little background that may or may not be helpful. I've never been a "swimmer". That doesn't mean, I've ever really been afraid of water. I grew up spending most of my summers in one of two 4-foot deep pools owned by relatives, but I never really swam, and certainly never learned anything like the freestyle stroke. I could "dog paddle" and perform enough of an overhand stroke, keeping my head well above water, that I didn't drown, but none of the actual "swimming strokes". I have, however, always been a "sinker". I had to take the swim qualification in Marine Corps boot camp twice to pass. I don't know if I have overly dense bones/muscular structure or if I just don't relax enough, but historically I have been a sinker. In high school I did a lot of power lifting, but have none of that former muscular thickness now.

In June of 2012 after reaching a weight considered morbidly obese (BMI over 40) (280 lbs at a height of 5'6") and struggling to walk up the stairs at work, I was encouraged to start walking and then introduced to a program called the couch to 5k. Soon after, in July, I bought a bike. It was lower stress on my joints, and in August I ran my first 5k since my Marine Corps days (20 years ago). Soon after, based largely because my boss at work does Ironman distance triathlons, I decided to give triathlon training a try. At first I avoided the swim portion of the training. Partly because I had to join a health club to be able to swim and partly because, "I'm a sinker". In November I bought the O2 in H20 dvd, the self coach workshop dvd, and the beginner freestlye stroke ebook.

I've been doing the drills following the ebook and the dvd's since November and have gotten to a level where I can float along with an easy kick in skate position, keeping a shoulder above water, fairly easily (couldn't at first). However, as soon as I started "zipperswitch prep", when I brought the pocket hand forward, dive, dive, dive, down I go, sinking until the top of my elbow just barely clears the water.

Based on reading some of Terry's blog posts on Kaizen and making subtle incremental improvements and concentrating on doing each segment of each drill well rather than on getting to the other end of the pool, I'm willing to start completely over or do other drills concentrating on the small parts to achieve a better whole if necessary, but I need a little nudge in the right direction.

Which portion of which drill should I concentrate on to be able to "stay afloat" once the recovery hand comes forward?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Blake
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  #2  
Old 01-08-2013
CoachToby CoachToby is offline
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Blake. Glad to hear you're taking steps to improve your health and fitness.

Sinking a bit in Zipperswitch (now called Swingswitch) as the recovering arm comes forward is normal. If your sinking excessively I'd guess that you may be lifting the arm too high. Also, the slower you recover the arm the more prone you will be to sinking.

So, when performing Swingskate drill or slow Swingsitches, try to get the recovering hand floating around the same depth as your head - favour on keeping it deeper rather than too shallow. As the switches get more dynamic you can start lifting the arm higher, to the point where you're just dragging the knuckles through the water. Then It's just a small hope to doing Overswitches!

Getting someone to video your efforts and posting the results here is an excellent way of getting advice specific to you.

I hope this helps.
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  #3  
Old 01-08-2013
casper4x447 casper4x447 is offline
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Coach Toby,

Thank you for your response. I will try to be extra mindful tonight of how deep my recovery hand is when doing "swing skate".

I'm not sure how "excessive sinking" would be defined versus "some sinking". However, when viewing the self coaching dvd, in the swing skate section, Terry's shoulder, a bit of his back, his entire upper arm and his elbow all are above the water when doing this drill and he leaves the elbow forward of his head for several seconds in the video. When I try this drill, as soon as I begin bringing my arm forward, my shoulder, back and most of my arm instantly sink underwater.

I'll ask at the local YMCA where I swim if my wife can video a bit of me doing this drill and maybe some whole stroke, but I'm not sure if they'll let us or not. I know they have a "no camera/cell phone in the locker room policy" so I'm not sure how they'd handle getting a video camera into the pool area, but I will ask.

Thanks again,
Blake
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Old 01-08-2013
CoachToby CoachToby is offline
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Blake. How much a person sinks depends largely on body type and is therefore personal. When doing slow swingskate/swingswitch drill, I sink to the point where my elbow clears the surface by just 3-4". The important thing is to make sure that the arm position remains relative to body position, not to the surface of the water. Its sometimes tricky to guage exactly where your arm is in relation to the body without looking. If you can get your wife to have a look under water as you perform this drill, she should be able to tell whether your recovering hand is too high. Aim to get the finger tips hanging level with your face.

Try it out and let me know how you get along.
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  #5  
Old 01-09-2013
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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TOby's advice is spot on, I couldn't imagine a better explanation!!
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  #6  
Old 01-09-2013
casper4x447 casper4x447 is offline
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Thanks for the additional information Coach Toby.

This makes sense to me. I'll continue with the drills being mindful of "arm position relative to body rather than water" (repeating it and writing it helps to set it in my mind so I can remember it better).

I wasn't able to get a digital camera into the pool, but I had my wife watch. She thought (1) my finger tips are actually lower than my face and (2) my shoulders were maybe more vertical than Terry's shoulders in the dvd, so maybe I'm over rotating and loosing some buoyancy. I just feel really flat, in skate, if I don't rotate as much (maybe that's because I've practiced it wrong too many times) and, in skate, my high side shoulder doesn't seem to clear the water as much if I'm flatter, but maybe that's the density thing again.

On the way to the pool tonight I picked up a tempo trainer and tried some short whole stroke segments keeping pace with the TT (only 4-6 strokes because I haven't learned continuous breathing yet). Seems at anything slower than 1.6 I really sink taking on a "bobbing motion", but faster than 1.6 and I don't sink as much. At around 1.4, I can keep up with the pace without feeling rushed and can nearly cover the distance to the half point of the pool in 6 strokes before I have to stand up to breathe. I would probably take another 2-3 strokes to get to the half way mark (if I don't push off from the wall).

I found your youtube video of "TI Advanced Drills" Coach Toby. While during the swing skate drill, you do seem to sink slightly more than Terry, I'm pretty sure I'm sinking even more than you. As long as it's just a density thing and not a balance thing, I'll continue with the drills being mindful of your advice here.

Thanks for the advice Coach Toby and the "moral support" Coach Suzanne and thanks again to you both for taking time to respond.

Blake

Last edited by casper4x447 : 01-09-2013 at 06:25 AM.
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  #7  
Old 01-10-2013
Joe Novak Joe Novak is offline
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Blake,
I would also recommend trying to stay flatter in the water, pressing in maybe even more than you think you should, and trying to get the lead arm down a bit as possible things to explore in helping you stay at the surface more.
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  #8  
Old 01-13-2013
casper4x447 casper4x447 is offline
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Okay, guys and gals, the pool at the Y was slow enough today that we were able to get some video. Let me start with a variation of what's been said by others who've posted up video of themselves for the first time. I didn't realize I was "wobbling" or swaying side to side this much until I saw it on the video. It feels a lot different, until I saw it. Oh well, that's why they call it learning, right.

The video shows just how much I'm sinking in swing skate. My wife may be correct about too much rotation in swing skate, what do you think?

Also sorry for the video quality, especially the above water shots. I didn't realize the camera was in a low quality resolution setting until I viewed the videos.

Here's a link: http://youtu.be/CfsRleui-H8

Let me know what you think.

Blake
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  #9  
Old 01-13-2013
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by casper4x447 View Post
Okay, guys and gals, the pool at the Y was slow enough today that we were able to get some video. Let me start with a variation of what's been said by others who've posted up video of themselves for the first time. I didn't realize I was "wobbling" or swaying side to side this much until I saw it on the video. It feels a lot different, until I saw it. Oh well, that's why they call it learning, right.

The video shows just how much I'm sinking in swing skate. My wife may be correct about too much rotation in swing skate, what do you think?

Also sorry for the video quality, especially the above water shots. I didn't realize the camera was in a low quality resolution setting until I viewed the videos.

Here's a link: http://youtu.be/CfsRleui-H8

Let me know what you think.

Blake
The amount you are sinking is totally normal. as in you're not really sinking it just feels like it. You have a good amount of body surface area above the water during your drills.

Rotate a little less and even more of your body will be near the surface. Spear to a target a little narrower and that will decrease some of the wobbles. You are doing well.
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Suzanne Atkinson, MD
Level 3 USAT Coach
USA Paralympic Triathlon Coach
Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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  #10  
Old 01-13-2013
casper4x447 casper4x447 is offline
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casper4x447
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Thanks Coach Suzanne,

You guys are awesome, providing helpful tips and encouraging feedback on videos, even when the "full stroke" in this video is, shall we say, less than average 8-).

Glad to know the past 8 weeks haven't been a complete write off!

Thanks

Blake
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