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  #41  
Old 02-19-2009
mjm mjm is offline
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Originally Posted by terryhand View Post
Early on in this thread, one of the posters asked Fred if he pushed away into a glide from the wall underwater did he rise to the surface in a horizontal position. I would have to say emphatically no. Despite the fact that I am looking straight down and my arms are straight out in front, my shoulders always, without fail bob to the surface first. I can feel the angle of my body changing very quickly after pushing off. I have tried doing this completely relaxed and relaxed with the core engaged. It makes no difference.
Terryhand: sounds like you are trying to learn to swim using videos and books. That is the more difficult path. However, if you are so inclined go to this website:
http://www.h2oustonswims.org/
Click on articles, click on "What Floats Yer Boat". Look at the videos.
Start with a kickboard across your thighs for superman glide. Your arms may need to be lower in the water than you expect. Once you can float with a full kickboard, cut it in half and proceed with the drills as before. Keep floating using a smaller and smaller kickboard. You will eventually be able to keep you legs up and it will make swimming sooooo much easier. Good luck, good swimming--mjm
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  #42  
Old 02-19-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Originally Posted by terryhand View Post
Early on in this thread, one of the posters asked Fred if he pushed away into a glide from the wall underwater did he rise to the surface in a horizontal position. I would have to say emphatically no. Despite the fact that I am looking straight down and my arms are straight out in front, my shoulders always, without fail bob to the surface first. I can feel the angle of my body changing very quickly after pushing off. I have tried doing this completely relaxed and relaxed with the core engaged. It makes no difference.

Something I noticed recently in the DVD is that Terry’s legs appear to be quite engaged on the upstroke as well as the down stroke. That is, the passive leg is actively raised at the same time as the other leg kicks down the initiate the rotation. This seems counter to everything that I have learned so far as the emphasis has always been on kicking down. Could this be the answer, or have I got it completely wrong?
I think the non-kicking leg reaches the surface partly due to body rotation. There might also be a sub-conscious counter motion to the kicking leg. Then again, maybe Laughlin-sensei will tell us he in fact actively kicks up.

As far as gliding to the surface in a balanced position, why not work on it with a little power applied? Push off below the surface and flutter kick. (I dive about 2 feet.) Actively work on keeping your ascent gradual. Maybe you will even be kicking downhill. Just see if you can get your body level at one point in time; the point at which your break the surface.
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  #43  
Old 02-19-2009
freshegg freshegg is offline
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OK, at least I've discovered the problem -- I only eat junk food twice a day instead of three times ! Thanks for the advice. And I only have two long fingernails.

Believe me, I'm not trying to use my body type as an excuse. I've come up with countless excuses over the years -- "The water is thicker than usual today!", "Someone put jello in the water!", "I didn't tie the cord of my Speedos tightly enough!", "I ate breakfast too late", "I ate breakfast too early", etc etc. So, I don't really need yet another one.

Thank you, "Terryhand", for commiserating.

Anyway, here's the deal: I am 50 years old. I am 5'8" tall, 140 lbs, 13% body fat using the calipers. According to my chiropractor, my spine is "too straight" (i.e. not enough natural curvature). I have very bowed legs and flat feet. On the plus side, I have really big nostrils!

I have been swimming for fitness for just over 20 years; I took it up when I turned 30 as a way to challenge myself. I had been doing aerobics and weight training for about 10 years prior to that, but decided the aerobics were too injurious.

I am pretty much self-taught, but of course I taught myself the old, non-TI, "pull and struggle" method, not knowing any better -- although I do have a strong core and have always been a "hip-thruster". Still, I managed to progress over the first few years to the point where I was able to swim a full mile (1600 metres) of continuous laps, without stopping. At my best, I was doing a mile in about 27 mins 30 secs. I've never done much sprinting, but I think my fastest 100 metres ever was around 1 min 30 secs - so, not very fast. I maintained this level of swimming up until about 2 years ago.

I should probably add that throughout all this time, I have continued to do moderate weight training -- nothing too too much, just once or maybe twice a week for 20 to 30 minutes in the gym, just to help stay toned. I don't do heavy heavy weights, but rather more repetitions with light-ish weights.

Two years ago, my swimming suddenly started getting slower. I have no idea why. My technique hadn't changed. My pool hadn't changed. My junk food consumption hadn't changed. My fingernails hadn't changed. My nostrils hadn't changed. All I could think was that somehow my body composition had changed. Suddenly, I was down to a 28-minute mile. Then a 29-minute mile. Now, I'm barely breaking a 30-minute mile. If I attempt a 100-metre sprint, I'm pushing myself to crack 1 min 45 secs.

So, a few months ago, I turned to Total Immersion as, hopefully, a way to change my stroke and philosophy of swimming and at least get back to where I was, if not even better.

My speed hasn't improved, but I do have to say that I find the overall swim to be much easier. I'm still swimming 1600 metres in about 30 minutes (or 2000 metres in 37 to 38 minutes), but at the end of the swim, I get out of the pool and barely even feel as though I've exercised. I'm not panting for breath at all, and I wouldn't be surprised if my heart rate isn't terribly elevated, either. And I also feel a lot less stress in my shoulders and neck, something I used to experience quite a bit. And my nostrils!! You should see my nostrils now, they barely flare at all !! So in those respects, I'm thrilled with Total Immersion. But maybe I'm just being impatient, expecting too great a result too soon?

But I still can't help thinking that my body type has got to have something to do with my inability to get faster. I watch other people with terrible strokes, straight arms, kicking like an outboard motor with turbulence all around, raised heads, you name it, and they're still faster than I am.

Living in New Zealand, there ain't much opportunity for TI coaching or workshops. I will certainly consider asking someone to videotape me, though.

If anybody actually read all the way through this harangue, congratulations to you, go treat yourself to an extra handful of pork rinds.

cheers
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  #44  
Old 02-20-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Originally Posted by freshegg View Post
If anybody actually read all the way through this harangue, congratulations to you, go treat yourself to an extra handful of pork rinds.
Wow, that was a marathon read. hehe Hmm...pork rinds...

I will play coach again. You go beyond what I can do, so it's like I'm a worn out coach and you are a star athlete. Maybe that's not so far off.

Why not break your swim down to "smaller" intervals? Maybe 4x400m with some amount of rest in between. Start each interval at normal pace and increase the speed as you go. More rest should allow you to exert yourself more, swim the intervals faster, maintain technique, and think about what you're doing. Your overall time should be faster, if you subtract the rest time. If so, just work up to maintaining whatever you did for the duration of the 1600.
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  #45  
Old 02-20-2009
terryhand terryhand is offline
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Good suggestions MJM and Shuumai. The h2ousonswims website is a great resource, thanks. I've bookmarked that one. But I think the diminishing sized kickboards drill might be a bit problematic in a crowded public pool. I’ll just have to improvise something.

I did have a block of lessons in the beginning, but most of that was concentrated around improving my kick. Unfortunately, in the part of the UK where I live there are no TI coaches, and now what with the credit crunch… So I’m afraid it’s the DVD and the book for the time being.

I do have another question related to the question of balance, but I think it might be better to start another thread once I get my thoughts together.
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  #46  
Old 02-20-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Originally Posted by freshegg View Post
I am 50 years old. I am 5'8" tall, 140 lbs, 13% body fat using the calipers.
Does that mean you are muscular? I calculated my body fat to be in the upper teens at best. I'm 5'8" and 150 lbs. Maybe I just have 10 lbs more fat due to that bags of sweets on the table.

(Yeah, you have me beat with the easy 1600m. I was getting tired during a 5x100y set last night.)
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  #47  
Old 02-26-2009
FredMcG FredMcG is offline
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Originally Posted by Rhoda View Post
Well, I just happen to be one of those "fatties" who go "whizzing by", and I can assure you that I have never gained any advantage in swimming from this and have had to work long and hard to improve. So some ex-tennis player is miffed that he can't just jump straight into a pool and swim really well straight off the bat, just because he was a competitive athlete once upon a time? Well, perhaps he should try getting out of bed at 5:00 a.m., morning after morning, devoting 5 or more hours a week to working on stroke mechanics, as I do.
Oh, and just for the record, I do not eat junk food three times a day.
Look, I'm sorry if I've offended any "fatties" out there. You should be pleased you can swim well while I can't. In any case, I'm replying to your post because there seems to be a mixture of interpretations re what I really started the debate for - some of them quite defensive and derogatory. You talk about "some ex-tennis player is miffed that he can't just jump straight into a pool and swim really well straight off the bat, just because he was a competitive athlete once upon a time? Well, perhaps he should try getting out of bed at 5:00 a.m., morning after morning, devoting 5 or more hours a week to working on stroke mechanics blah blah blah...". You must have missed the part where I explained that up to my mid teens I was doing 5am starts, 6 days a week, plus evenings - 11 sessions. If I was a beginner, I wouldn't be so bold as to make the points, or rather maybe I wouldn't be making them so boldly. At a very comfortable 1min50sec (up to 2mins if I've been going for a couple of kms) per 100m, my swimming technique is every bit as good (and mostly a lot better) as friends of mine who cruise around in say 1min20 or 1min30. This differential gets even more pronounced when I try to put the speed on. I've got lots of friends my age (mid 40s) who swim 50m in under 30 seconds, but if I put my foot down I barely break 40 seconds.

In any case, I'm not here to defend my swimming style. I'm also not here to rubbish training and proper technique. Of course you can make yourself a better swimmer if you work on your technique - not to mention the sense of satisfaction etc. My point is that if you think about swimming, it makes perfect sense to me that some combination of the volume, density, mass of the bits that are doing the propulsion/pulling, relative to the bits that are being dragged, has got to be a factor. It seems like it would be right, and I just thought that if I posed this question in a forum of people that know more than me about swimming someone might have considered this - but alas, no cigar.

It seems to me that the sport of swimming has another dimension that you simply cannot control by technique. Consider sprinting (on the track). Sprinting in entirely about leg speed. While there are things you can do to help move your legs quickly, the simple fact is that if you can move your legs as quickly as Usain Bolt, you can run as fast as him. If you put a small child on your back you would be slower because you would not be able to move your legs as quickly. If I tie a small child to my legs when I swim, I could theoretically do everything else exactly the same - same arm speed, same kick, same rotation, same everything, exactly the same, but I wouldn't go as fast. Why not? It's obvious why not (if you have a feel for physics) - because, even though I am doing everything exactly the same, the arms will go backwards through the water rather than the whole mass going forward. If you change the ratios, ie put bigger arms on, then the arms would be more inclined to stay put while the body (with child) moved forward. That's my only point. My contention is that two people could theoretically have the exact same technique, but they won't go at the same speed because one could be pulling a larger dead weight with smaller paddles, while the other pulling a smaller dead weight with larger paddles. My further contention is that, if my anecdotal experience (of myself) is anything to go by, this is a significant factor, rather than an insignificant one.

That's all. I hope the above rant helps clear up the point, and I hope it also causes people to stop posting stupid straw men arguments like 'you can't expect to swim well just because you used to play tennis', and 'if you want to get better you have to work on your technique'...

Thanks

Fred
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  #48  
Old 02-26-2009
FredMcG FredMcG is offline
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Originally Posted by terryhand View Post
I have been following this thread with a great deal of interest as I do have some sympathy with Fred’s position. Of course it could appear to be all too easy to blame body type on a lack of progress, but this is something that has been nagging at me ever since I started to learn to swim as an adult onset swimmer. I have to admit that on occasions I have begun to feel that some of us just aren’t built to be swimmers.

In my case, unlike Fred I would not claim even to be an average swimmer. After a year and a half I am still struggling to get past the switch drills to a passable full stroke. Neither would I claim to be an Adonis, but I do have a running background, and a typical runners physique. Sinking legs have been a perennial problem from the beginning.

Early on in this thread, one of the posters asked Fred if he pushed away into a glide from the wall underwater did he rise to the surface in a horizontal position. I would have to say emphatically no. Despite the fact that I am looking straight down and my arms are straight out in front, my shoulders always, without fail bob to the surface first. I can feel the angle of my body changing very quickly after pushing off. I have tried doing this completely relaxed and relaxed with the core engaged. It makes no difference.

In the full stroke and in the switch drills the effect is that I hardly glide at all.

Something I noticed recently in the DVD is that Terry’s legs appear to be quite engaged on the upstroke as well as the down stroke. That is, the passive leg is actively raised at the same time as the other leg kicks down the initiate the rotation. This seems counter to everything that I have learned so far as the emphasis has always been on kicking down. Could this be the answer, or have I got it completely wrong?

I really am trying to progress, and don’t want to appear as negative. I am looking for a way ahead.
Good questions. I'm not a swimming coach so you can take this or leave it - it may be completely wrong. Even though I'm not a swimming coach, I have been swimming all my life, but also I played at professional level in quite a technical sport, and have played quite a bit of golf too. There is a book by Timothy Gallway called the inner game of tennis (also, there is the inner game of golf). Mr Gallway advocated that he has taught people to play tennis by getting them to look at someone play, and then telling them "OK, go and do that.". My point is that I am a big advocate of the idea that you can over-analyise and over-thing sports when you are trying to learn them, and thus prevent yourself from actually being able to do it. With you talk about active and passive kicking legs being engaged on certain up and down strokes etc you may be over-analysing it - I have been swimming all my life and I don't think I could keep track of all of that. If you are having trouble getting through a passable full stroke can I suggest that you simply try to get into a swimming rhythm doing all the arm and breathing strokes just standing up on the pool edge, or standing in the pool if it is shallow enough. While standing up, get yourself into a rhythm of arms and breathing, copy what the real good swimmers are doing in the pool, but get a rhythm going. Once you are feeling good and you feel that you have a real comfortable rhythm going, just start swimming, and keep that rhythm going. Push on with it and don't give yourself a chance to sink (It's a bit like rubbing your stomach and patting your head - when you first try it there's no rhythm - if that is how you are, don't start, but if you have an easy rhythm going, then you can go. You may only make a few strokes. It may not work at all - you may sink straight to the bottom. I'd be as interested as you are to know if this is useful advice, as I've never given it before (for swimming).
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  #49  
Old 02-26-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Originally Posted by FredMcG View Post
Look, I'm sorry...
You should have just stopped there. hahaha
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  #50  
Old 02-26-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Originally Posted by FredMcG View Post
GMy point is that I am a big advocate of the idea that you can over-analyise and over-think sports when you are trying to learn them, and thus prevent yourself from actually being able to do it.
That I have to agree with. You might also apply that to your thought that you have a limitation that cannot be compensated for due to your physique. Perhaps you've over-analyzed or just stopped short. I mean, now that you've concluded that physique is a problem, try to come up with a way to work with it or turn it into an advantage. That's the "track" that most of the people here are on.
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