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  #11  
Old 05-16-2014
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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I just started this thread and read it from beginning to end. AMAZING work!!!! Thank you so much for sharing
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Suzanne Atkinson, MD
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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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  #12  
Old 05-24-2014
Suddethb Suddethb is offline
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Session 9.

Mark's first few laps were a bit off, and I asked if he was thinking his music to keep his pace. He wasn't. I asked him to focus on feeling his thighs touching as he did his flick kick, and trying to keep the switch and kick together. I told him about the Tempo Trainer that Terry uses (the ONLY training gear he now uses), but it isn't useful for Mark yet as he doesn't like wearing goggles, so he doesn't have a strap to attach it to. I'm talking him into getting some that cover the whole eye socket though, so who knows. He's rotating well on his spinal axis, but rather that pointing straight at the wall, his legs are still dragging lower than I'd like (upward body position), and he's not as streamlined as I'm hoping for yet. I'd post more video (sent several to Terry already), but while changing hand positions shooting underwater, an access port on my camera opened up, and I have to get the whole camera open and dry and clean the lens before I can use it again (argghhh).

I spoke to our escort kayaker Peggy about Mark's sinking legs, and she's offered him the pants from a wetsuit a friend gave her. It may be just the little boost he needs to bring his butt up and his time down. It's hard to keep track of your body position with precision when you can't see or feel where all your parts are. I've been working on those little touches with hand and leg as he moves to try to get him more consistent in sliding his hand like a zipper up his side, cocked for the switch, hand through the slot and into the sleeve, etc. Considering we've only met to swim 9 times, we are both feeling very successful so far.

During his laps on Wednesday, he decided to set a PR for laps. His best ever was 42, and so he stayed at it until he'd completed 43 this week. He was stoked! On completing the new distance, he told me that when he'd set his prior best, his legs were jelly, and he was in a lot of pain. THIS time, he felt less pain than when he went in, and was full of energy!

He's getting to that magic point where he's running out of TIME before running out of energy!
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  #13  
Old 05-25-2014
CoachToddE CoachToddE is offline
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I too just read this post from start to finish. Excellent work. I have worked with a blind vet for the past 1 and 1/2 years. Taught him to swim. He now swims by himself in his lane, counts his strokes to know where the end is and brushes the lane line with his right arm on entry to keep straight. I ride my tandem bicycle with him and have done Valor Games in Tx last year and just completed a mini-tri for vets with him (pool swim). We haven't tried any open water as of yet.

You have done a great job!! Good luck with your upcoming OW swim.
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  #14  
Old 06-01-2014
Suddethb Suddethb is offline
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Weeks 9-11. I'm only providing minor observations, and then letting Mark do laps and focus on the feeling of a good glide, keeping his legs closer so his thighs touch, and trying to synch hand switch with flick kick.

"Teaching Mark Rew #9 - Average lap 1:30, Mark did - 36 LAPS - ONE MILE!"
"Teaching Mark Rew #10 - Average lap 1:30, Mark did 43 LAPS - New PR for Mark!" The last time he managed 42 laps, he could hardly breath or walk. This time, he felt great, and the pains he had when he started were gone!
"Teaching Mark Rew #11 - Average lap 1:30, Mark did - 36 LAPS - ONE MILE! "

6/1/2014 We're back from our shakedown swim! Mark and I did a double session in the Severn River today with the US U.S. Masters Swimming group the Arundel Breakfast Club Swimming group in the Severn River, just North of Annapolis, Maryland. What a wonderful group of folks. They include some seasoned swimmers of The Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, folks who have done the English Channel, as well as folks like Mark who are just starting with open water swimming. This was Mark's first serious openwater swim (not just for fun), and the nerves were high at first. He admitted he was thinking he might get started and then just decided it was too overwhelming and bail out. He DID NOT. Our first swim from Winchester Beach headed downriver toward the Rt 50 bridge. We went about 700 yards, turned, and headed back. Mark seemed relieved and pleased to feel sand in his toes again. A few minutes to chat and get grounded again, and he was ready to head out for another lap, this time with more confidence and significantly more relaxed. This time it was about 500 yards each way (a mile is about 1800).

As Mark's legs still have a tendency to sink, he borrowed a wetsuit from a friend, that has full legs, and no arms. Annoying to get into, but it did a great job of helping him float higher in the water, and I definitely noticed an increase in his stroke length and speed. With practice, he won't need it, but as the event is next week, it isn't a bad safety choice. As this swim isn't about me showing off, but about ensuring Mark stays safe, I had no issues in wearing my new one. I'm glad I did, as that cool water was sucking energy out of me, and I didn't mind having my core a bit warmer. I'm surprised to say I'm a bit shagged out. It was worth it though. Mark's confidence level is now MUCH higher, and he's feeling more confident about next week, as long as we stay away from the crowd as we swim.

Our thanks to Terry Laughlin of Total Immersion Swimming for giving me the skills to get Mark this far! It is an honor and a privilege to be his escort for this swim.
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  #15  
Old 06-15-2014
Suddethb Suddethb is offline
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Default Success! June 8, 2014 GCBS One-Mile Challenge!

Mark and I had a great swim. He was a bit overwhelmed at the start of the The Great Chesapeake Bay Swim - One Mile Challenge, and started to hyperventilate. He started out swimming with his face lifting forward to breathe, and that meant the choppy water kept slapping his face. He started panicking a bit, so we stopped to tread water. My friend Peggy who was spotting for us in her kayak pulled up, and the two of us talked to Mark and settled his breathing down. I reminded him about rolling to the side to breath, which would let the chop hit the top of his head, not his face. I also told him how far he'd already swum. It worked. He settled down, started again and finally got his rhythm.

As we got to the first turn, I decided to surprise him, and steered him right into the big beach ball. It was a solid way of confirming he'd really reached it. It was a blast for his confidence. I swam on his left, as all turns were to the right, and only a few times had to call to him to steer back toward me. We passed a number of slower swimmers, and I was glad in this case I decided to wear my new shortie wetsuit, as I didn't want a distraction from monitoring Mark's progress. Toward the end, we had a Coast Guard boat following us, as they'd already pulled other slower swimmers. They wanted Mark to succeed, but the answer is always safety first. We got the word if we finished strong, we'd be allowed to finish, so I got Mark's attention, and he buckled down with much better form for the last 500 yards. One of the race organizers personally met us in the water at the finish gate to congratulate Mark! We walked up and out and across the timing mat, Mark with one hand on my right arm to guide him out, just as I'd guided him in.

We may have been last out of the water at 47:10, but he has a huge sense of accomplishment in finishing his first (but not last) openwater event! It was also the fastest mile swim he's ever done (with help from a full length, sleeveless wetsuit) Thanks everyone for your support! I chose this GCBS event for his first as the atmosphere is so welcoming for newbies and the support in the water is unmatched. THANK YOU Peggy Connor for the kayak support! It really made a difference. I know you had a great day too!

At our next pool swim, after winding down, Mark told me that even after the panic, the trust and the challenge of the swim, when he walked out of the water and across the mat, he was thinking, "Wow! That was GREAT! Can we do it again?"
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  #16  
Old 06-15-2014
Suddethb Suddethb is offline
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Back in the pool. The last time I timed Mark without a wetsuit before our swim, he was 40 SPL, and 1:30 lap and had been on that plateau for several weeks. Following the shakedown river swim and the successful GCBS one-mile challenge, we decided to keep our schedule for pool swimming weekly when we can, just for the fun, relaxation, and continued kaizen.

As I was stretching and watching Mark warming up, I noted a few things. He was more synchronized in switch and flick kick. He wasn't over rolling when he breathed to his right as usual, so his elbow no longer crossed his center line. His kicks were smaller. He seemed to move farther per stroke. I decided to watch and count. 29 SPL at 1:10 per lap (25 yd short course pool). WOW!

One more step in his self-discovery of his balance and streamlining.
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  #17  
Old 02-07-2015
Suddethb Suddethb is offline
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Mark and I are still swimming most Wednesday nights. He's holding pretty steady with his 1:10-1:15 lap at 29 SPL. That's good enough to beat the 45 minute cutoff time in the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, One Mile Challenge, and better than the 47:10 he swam in that event last year, so he's asked me to take him again this year! The event is June 14 (link below). At my suggestion, he’s finally signed up for some coaching from a Certified Total Immersion Coach named Lloyd Henry in Northern Virginia. Lloyd recently recertified with Terry, so he’s up on the latest techniques. I’ll be interested to hear from Mark how workouts with Lloyd differ from the ones with me. I’m hoping this year the water will be warmer, and he can do this event without a wetsuit this time and kick the butt of his prior time! We'll keep working and tuning and see what he can do. He's miles beyond were he started at last year.
https://linmarksports.com/index.php?...162&Itemid=490
http://openwaterpedia.com/index.php?title=Mark_Rew

On an interesting note, I was contacted recently by a limited vision athlete named Deena who is training for her first sprint triathlon and needs work on her swim stroke. We haven’t picked an event yet, but we have to find one that allows her to switch off guides for different stages, or find her a partner who can do all three who can practice swims with us. I have a bad knee that prevents me from running, and biking puts my butt to sleep.

She found my contact information on CDifferent.org, as site that attempts to hook up blind athletes with sighted volunteer guides. She lives in Greenbelt, Maryland not far from me, so we've setup Monday afternoons as our training time at their community pool. A quick glance at her stroke seemed reasonably smooth, but she was obviously working and breathing hard, and couldn't keep laps going.

As with Mark, I started with the balance drills like Leaning Torpedo, Superman, and Skate. While she skated, I noticed something I've not seen people do before. She had her cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk, and was blowing a steady stream of bubbles out her lips. I discussed it with her, then demonstrated relaxed breathing out the nose and in the mouth, and suggested that she not start her exhale until close to rolling to where the air is to refill, and keep the breathing feeling more normal than forced. Apparently this was quite a revelation for her!

She's also taking a beginner triathlon class which I encouraged. She was a bit concerned that they'd be having her do drills that conflict with TI practices. I told her not to worry about it. She should mention to the trainer that she's learning TI basics, and if that person knows about it, they'll probably support her with it, and if not, she'll still have a good opportunity to contrast a "paddle, paddle, kick, kick" course with a relaxed and streamlined approach.

Deena has limited vision, but she can see me somewhat which makes training her a bit easier than it was working with Mark. Toward the end of our first session, I let her see my own form in freestyle and in butterfly. At the end of a lap of freestyle, she said with shock, "I can't hear you when you swim by me!" My reply was that there were a dozen other swimmers in the pool doing laps and I asked her to point them out. She had absolutely no trouble as she could hear them all clearly, even though none were closer than 30 feet from us. I think that was a nice convincer! She is excited about continuing to get tuning from me.

Here’s a twist, she knows Mark and he remembers her too! Mark works in hooking up challenged people with assistive technologies in DOD, and is widely known in the blind community. I’m teaching a celebrity!

Last edited by Suddethb : 02-07-2015 at 08:54 PM.
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  #18  
Old 02-08-2015
terry terry is offline
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Brian
With both Mark and Deena, in addition to skills and form work, both should benefit greatly from learning and working on Green Zone stroke counts with Tempo. Once they reach a good baseline level of efficiency (which should bring significant improvements in their pace/mile) further pace improvements will come largely from making small increases in Tempo while holding an SPL in their Green Zone.
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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  #19  
Old 02-08-2015
terry terry is offline
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Default Tempo and SPL for sightless swimmers

PS: I see two interesting possibilities in using SPL+Tempo for blind athletes
1) I surmise that their enhanced 'sightless sensitivity' might give them some advantage in making these subtle changes in length and rate to 'know in their bones' how to add or subtract a stroke and still feel confident in reaching the far wall in stride. Sighted athletes develop that sense when doing 'gears' practice (changing SPL by choice and for strategic reasons), but also rely on visual cues -- landmarks in the pool, such as where the bottom drops to a greater depth--to assist them. It should be an interesting experiment to do that sightlessly. It inspires me to want to try it with my eyes closed--while knowing I'll probably lose my nerve and take a peek in the last 5 yards if not sooner.
2) Being able to relatively calculate pace from Tempo and SPL gives sightless athletes a 'clock in the head' to keep track of pace during a swim or set, even while being unable to see a watch or pace clock.
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My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 02-09-2015 at 01:58 AM.
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  #20  
Old 02-08-2015
Suddethb Suddethb is offline
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I remember that one of the Olympic golds that Michael Phelps won in Bejing showed him fairly angry and frustrated at the finish. It was because his goggles filled at the start, and he had to swim "blind", trusting in his muscle memory from thousands of laps in order to anticipate when to flip.

I've seen both Mark and Deena with their cane feeling their way around at a normal walking speed with great confidence. I've also had discussions with Mark about how he uses hearing and touch to paint a full visual image with color in his mind, so he literally does "see" what he's experiencing and has a visual memory. Remember that he was sighted until early teens. He speaks of “looking for things” and “I see your point” because his mind does indeed work that way. He also has a passion for music of many kinds and has devoted a room in his home to that purpose.

What I've NOT noticed is any “enhancement” to their senses, just paying more attention to different primary input than a sighted person might. It seems to be a matter of the amount of input from a sensory source drowning out others. For sighted people, we are bombarded with visual input, and still can only focus on and think about a small portion consciously. We allow auditory input to be passively gathered, but can ignore most of it except the out of place or deliberately communicated. We feel the chair and keyboard as we type, but ignore the aches in our feet and back until we stand up stiffened. With vision limited or missing, hearing and touch become a larger portion of sensory input and the primary focus for experiencing surroundings.

I’ve questioned Mark on estimates of his pace, what music he’s “playing” in his head to maintain it at a specific tempo, and his ability to estimate his distance to the wall. While I’ve regularly recommended a pace “playlist”, and use that technique myself, even as a music lover, he hasn’t been doing it. His pace is currently a bit slower than my slow pace, and noticeably slower than my normal pace. He’s also got no “feel” for where the lane line floats are until he scrapes his arm or chest on it, and bangs his hand into the wall fairly frequently. I’ve noted that as he gets to those last few yards, he does have a tendency to extend a palm to try to reach for the upper edge of the wall rather than jamming a finger, but it still appears to be groping, not timed anticipation. He is MUCH improved on pushing off from the wall centered, and now can maintain his direction well enough to only brush the lane lines infrequently, and more and more often he’s delighted to complete a length right down the center with no side touches at all!

I’m thinking that if I can’t get him to think of music to regulate his pace, I’ll suggest a Tempo Trainer. I know you use one.

It took months of practice before he started being able to recognize “in his bones” where his legs and arms are and start to feel the course of the water over his skin as he achieved improvements in streamlining. I’ve seen his legs going wide, rather than the streamlined flick we’ve been working on. He admitted that he thought a wider legged position would make him more stable in the water, thus better controlled. My answer was it would indeed stabilize him the same way a sea anchor does. It was a major impediment to his progress, but once he discussed his reasoning and saw the opposite affect was being achieved by it, he lengthened more freely and cut another fifteen seconds off of his lap time and nearly ten strokes per length.

Another interesting thing is goggle selection. I’m currently using minimalist Swedish style. Mark’s tried a selection of others I use, and he didn’t like any of them. Even though he has no issues with clear vision or fogging, he does like to protect his eyes from the irritation of chlorine and potential infection from contaminants in open water. What he disliked is having anything pressing into his eye sockets. I introduced him to goggles that cover the outside of the eye socket, and he is delighted now. I believe they are a similar style to what I’ve seen you wearing. I noted in our first session that Deena seemed uncomfortable with her standard goggles as well, and talked about Mark’s choice. She brightened up immediately. I plan to ask Mark if I can borrow his set so Deena can try it on Monday, and return them to Mark at our Wednesday practice.
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