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qsjcraig 03-02-2018 02:00 PM

Stumped
 
Good morning everyone,

Started swimming again last fall after years of being out of the pool. Been going 2-3 days a week, 30-60min at a time. Started with a coach a few weeks ago, loving it so far. Got talked into doing the Master's practices MWF and loving that as well. Problem is, in Master's practice, I can go all day with fins on, been doing 1-2k practices and all is good. The minute the fins come off, I need to do a sprint pace to keep my legs from sinking, or what feels like that, so I'm gassed after just 50m. I'm sure (hope?) this is a common problem. Running 5 miles, biking 20 miles regularly so I'm confused about what seems to be a lack of breath, feeling as though my chest is going to blow up after just a 50. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Craig

CoachBobM 03-02-2018 04:49 PM

The general plan of our drill sequences is:

1) Get your core body doing the right things.

2) Add arm and leg movements.

The reason for this approach is that arm and leg movements can be used to mask a multitude of swimming errors. If you haven't learned to be balanced in a horizontal position, for example, you can cover it up by doing frantic kicking.

The central position for freestyle swimming is what we call the skate position. When you are in this position, your body is really like a teeter-totter floating on the fulcrum of your lungs, and your head and leading arm balance the weight of your legs on the other end of the fulcrum. The two factors that control whether you are in balance are:

1) head position - You want to relax your head into the water with your nose pointed down. If you lift your head to look forward, your hips will tend to sink.

2) leading arm position - You want your wrist to be lower than your shoulder, and you want to keep your wrist relaxed with your fingertips angled slightly down. If your leading arm is too high, this will also cause your hips to sink.

The ideal skate position can vary from swimmer to swimmer depending on a number of factors (like their natural buoyancy), and it may vary for the same swimmer over time. When I first began using the Total Immersion approach, for example, I needed a lower leading arm position to bring me into balance than I need now, and I'm pretty sure the reason is that in the early days, I was compensating for other things I was doing wrong, but now those other aspects of my stroke have improved and I don't need to compensate as much.

So I'd suggest experimenting with your skate position and finding the head and leading arm position that are ideal for you (which allow you to keep your hips up with a minimum of kicking), ingrain that ideal position (on both sides), and then practice spearing directly to it each time you take a stroke. If you can learn to keep your hips up through balance, then all of your arm and leg movements can be directed toward propulsion, which will allow you to move faster using less energy.

Be aware that the main thing your kick should be doing is to counterbalance the rotation of your core body. Your kick (particularly in distance swimming) is not a major source of propulsion. But you may benefit from spending some time improving your kick. The best drill for this, in my experience, is called vertical kicking: Go into water that is over your head, fold your arms across your chest, and keep your head above water by kicking. Focus on kicking from your hips and ankles - not from your knees. You can transition from this to horizontal kicking by starting vertical kicking and than letting yourself "fall back" onto your back while still kicking. If you spend a few minutes doing this every time you swim, your kick should gradually improve, and you should end up with a narrow, streamlined, hip-driven kick.

Let us know how you make out!


Bob

Tom65 03-04-2018 06:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by qsjcraig (Post 64875)
Good morning everyone,

Started swimming again last fall after years of being out of the pool. Been going 2-3 days a week, 30-60min at a time. Started with a coach a few weeks ago, loving it so far. Got talked into doing the Master's practices MWF and loving that as well. Problem is, in Master's practice, I can go all day with fins on, been doing 1-2k practices and all is good. The minute the fins come off, I need to do a sprint pace to keep my legs from sinking, or what feels like that, so I'm gassed after just 50m. I'm sure (hope?) this is a common problem. Running 5 miles, biking 20 miles regularly so I'm confused about what seems to be a lack of breath, feeling as though my chest is going to blow up after just a 50. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Craig

Fins are the single biggest swimming cheat ever.

Do the hard work.

Fins make everything way to easy.

Buoyancy shorts can give you a lift to help get more laps in whilst building fitness.

Snorkels are also good to let you get some swim adaption/fitness, although they do allow you to use too little rotation.



....

CoachStuartMcDougal 03-04-2018 03:54 PM

Hi Craig,

Adding to Coach Bob and Tom's responses: The best advice I got came from Terry (in blue and yellow book), he noted rather bluntly, "If you what to improve your swimming, leave all the pool toys at home" (fins, paddles, pool buoy) and learn to balance from the core/middle. The pool toys only imprint human primal impulses to stabilize the body from the hands and feet, not from the core.

I do use fins occasionally, but only for refining kick timing and feeling of flow from hip flexors/glutes through the toes - never for balance or propulsion.

Enjoy your journey!

Stu

Mushroomfloat 03-04-2018 05:40 PM

I dont have fins because A. im too tight to buy them B. sizing will probably be wrong and chafe my heels C. i spend time kicking on my sides in skate as a warm up everytime i go to the pool

Kicking without fins in skate can teach you about balancing from the core whilst rotated and show up if you are bending through the spine etc

I can now do all those cool looking drills that you see on YT videos which require great core stability to do correctly

But when i actually swim i dont bother kicking and i find a 2BK just appears as a flick down each leg which originates as a result of switching body rotation

qsjcraig 05-29-2018 06:06 PM

an update...
 
So it's been almost three months. I'm still going to the pool about 2-3 times a week (missed a week with a bad cold) and frankly, I'm ready to throw in the towel (no pun intended)

I've gone through two coaches now, and while both are very nice and eager to help, 95% of what I've been taught goes completely against what I'm reading, watching and practicing with TI and/or what I follow through other areas like Tower 26, etc. (been coached to breathe every 5 or so strokes, keep a steady strong kick, etc)

I've given the Master's practices a rest for a while because without fins, I'm still unable to swim longer than 250 yards without stopping...these people are doing 3k workout and I'm embarrassing myself.

I feel like my current ability is more brute force than proper swimming. Is this a common roadblock for people? The 200-250 yard mark?


Thanks,
Craig

novaswimmer 05-29-2018 07:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by qsjcraig (Post 65600)

I feel like my current ability is more brute force than proper swimming. Is this a common roadblock for people? The 200-250 yard mark?

If you are in a 25-yard length pool, then, you are experiencing a roadblock at 4 to 5 laps? How often are you breathing? Are you gasping at the end of 4 laps? Have you done all the TI drills? Are you feeling drag? Legs/hips sinking?

CoachStuartMcDougal 05-29-2018 09:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by qsjcraig (Post 65600)
So it's been almost three months. I'm still going to the pool about 2-3 times a week (missed a week with a bad cold) and frankly, I'm ready to throw in the towel (no pun intended)

I've gone through two coaches now, and while both are very nice and eager to help, 95% of what I've been taught goes completely against what I'm reading, watching and practicing with TI and/or what I follow through other areas like Tower 26, etc. (been coached to breathe every 5 or so strokes, keep a steady strong kick, etc)

I've given the Master's practices a rest for a while because without fins, I'm still unable to swim longer than 250 yards without stopping...these people are doing 3k workout and I'm embarrassing myself.

I feel like my current ability is more brute force than proper swimming. Is this a common roadblock for people? The 200-250 yard mark?

Thanks,
Craig

Hi Craig,

Sounds like you're in LA referencing Tower 26 and I'm assuming Gerry Rodrigues. Come out as a guest to my Masters swims at LA Valley College, Sherman Oaks (corner of Bubank and Coldwater) and let's have a look. M/W/F 7:30-9p. Or Culver City Plunge Thurs 8-9p with LA Tri Club - I'm LATC swim coach (on deck and in water) too.

Stu
mindbodyandswim.com

qsjcraig 05-29-2018 10:23 PM

Stu,

Thanks so much, Id love to, but im out near Philadelphia. It was suggested that I start listening to the Tower 26 Podcast, which Ive beem doing for the last several months...Im a big fan.

Nova,
Roadblock is right around 10-12 laps, so 250-275 meters. My form feels ok to me, Im just constantly air hungry, starting as soon as 50 meters sometimes.

Im in good land shape, (running, biking, etc) have been a singer for 20 years, spending tons of time on breathing.

CoachStuartMcDougal 05-30-2018 12:49 AM

Hi Craig,

Philly! Love Philly. If you ever come through LA, pop in for a swim!

The coaches that worked with you will teach you as they were taught swimming which is really almost polar opposite of TI approach. I'm sure you discovered this with Gerry's podcast too. So if you try to head down both paths - you will be stumped from opposing views. Pick one path and stick with it, dedicate yourself to that process whichever path you choose for at least six months.

Re: If you're swimming easier with fins and/or pull buoy then it's all back to the original responses - you must learn positions that make you balanced (from the middle/core) and movements that *maintain* balance with each stroke. When you are out of balance, hips drop, shoulders/neck/chest tighten, triggers the "survival strokes". No matter how good of a breather and in good shape you are out of the water - you will always be out of breath in the water.

So pick a path, stick with it and see how it goes

Good luck and enjoy the journey!

Stu
mindbodyandswim.com

sclim 05-30-2018 03:35 AM

@Craig: I know that this forum may seem like it has a huge bias -- after all it is a TI Forum, but every now and then TI enthusiasts contribute who have some minor variant insights, but generally most contributors have come here because they have found TI works. So I have to basically share the same bias and I must encourage you to have belief, no matter how hard it may seem, that TI principles are based on reality, although the underlying truth may be counter intuitive, and hard to see at first.

I have just turned 70 and have been banging away at TI now for 6 years, and am only now starting to feel a little comfortable in the water. I am very very fit for my age, and I am a powerful and efficient runner, have learned to bike in the same 6 years and have got reasonably good at it. But for some reason swimming has been slow to improve on. But TI has been my best solution to my difficulties with swimming all my life, because prior to TI I just depended on superior fitness and exertion not to die in the pool.

I practice several martial arts and again I think I'm quite good at most of them -- I have a Third Degree Black Belt in Hapkido -- but I seem to be a slow learner in swimming. It doesn't help that I am very lean and don't have any natural buoyancy to counteract my relative current lack of effortless swimming skills. It happens sometimes, and I accept that. But slow or not, the more I practice and try to absorb the teachings of the coaches, the more I do acquire the skills, eventually. Especially if I am able to relax in the process.

Funnily enough, I think a fundamental part of my problem is that at some level I don't believe enough in the fact that it should be easy, and thus I don't allow myself to relax in the water, and I try too hard. The best results come when I am able to relax just the right amount -- then suddenly it actually becomes easier and I become not so short of breath or panicked for air.

Oddly, I am also learning a new martial art, Aikido, which is all about a kind of gentle movement originating from the core (which is paradoxicallv very powerful and effective if done properly), and my problem, contaminated by all my prior years of hard martial arts, is that I am inclined to force my way through the movements which will wreck the dynamics of the intended technique. I find that this is a very powerful parallel of how easy TI swimming is only possible if one can abandon the many years of instinctive terrestrial survival movements (lurch upward for air, churn the legs and arms when one is losing balance, tense up when one is nervous about getting enough air, etc, etc,) that one has accumulated over the years of living on land. I know it can be done, but it is very difficult (for me, and for many others) to completely abandon these terrestrial instincts and surrender to the water. But when I am finally starting to get it, it is amazing and magic when I get it right and everything becomes so easy, until it doesn't (again), but that's another story, haha.

Just thought I'd let you know, a few people sometimes find it harder that others to get TI started and make everything work easily and right. But listen to the coaches -- they are telling the truth. BTW if you can get a real life TI coach to come to the pool and and coach you hands on it will be much faster to get to the right movements and posture than just by videos and e-books, and trying to imagine what your posture in the water is actually looking like.

Tom Pamperin 05-30-2018 07:33 AM

I can tell you from my own experience that TI works very well. When I decided to learn to swim 20 years ago, I was quite fit. I was completely shocked to find that I was unable to swim a single 25m length in a pool. It was completely exhausting. I was completely clueless.

It really is all about balance. Once you are balanced in the water, you can relax, and then your balance improves even more. And you relax more. It becomes a never-ending positive feedback loop that is incredibly satisfying and motivating.

If you decide to embrace TI, you won't regret it. It will lead you on a lifetime journey of improvement and joyful self-discovery. And along the way, you'll probably become a pretty good swimmer. A couple of years ago I trained for and completed a 10-mile open water swim, and at the end I felt like I could have easily gone on for another 5 or 10 miles. And I am swimming farther and faster than I could when I was much younger and fitter.

I agree a hands-on coach might be the best way to move on if you're having trouble with the self-coaching. And I agree that you will only frustrate yourself if you try to learn two methods at once, because they will only contradict each other and confuse you. But I'm convinced that the TI method and philosophy is the best way to approach learning anything, not just swimming.

WFEGb 05-30-2018 07:50 AM

Hello Stuart, hello Sclim,

Stuart:
Quote:

Pick one path and stick with it, dedicate yourself to that process whichever path you choose for at least six months.

...

So pick a path, stick with it and see how it goes...
Sclim:
Quote:

Funnily enough, I think a fundamental part of my problem is that at some level I don't believe enough in the fact that it should be easy, and thus I don't allow myself to relax in the water, and I try too hard. The best results come when I am able to relax just the right amount -- then suddenly it actually becomes easier and I become not so short of breath or panicked for air.
Words of wisdom, thank you, have to remind myself more often... Some days ago I talked with a professional (classical) singer. He said: I'm surely giftetd in music, but I needed around 1000 hours to get a feal for the fundamentals of singing and 10000 hours to get a feeling of myself of what might be called mastery... and going the way of improvement as my abilities allow for the rest of my life, it's helpful to get a worthy hint one and then...

Sad enough, he simply doesn't have the time to take some TI-lectures although interested in after our music-talk... :-)

Improving the own patience often turns out as the most difficult and most important skill.

Thanks and best regards,
Werner

CoachBobM 05-30-2018 10:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by qsjcraig (Post 65603)
Stu,

Thanks so much, Id love to, but im out near Philadelphia. It was suggested that I start listening to the Tower 26 Podcast, which Ive beem doing for the last several months...Im a big fan.

Nova,
Roadblock is right around 10-12 laps, so 250-275 meters. My form feels ok to me, Im just constantly air hungry, starting as soon as 50 meters sometimes.

Im in good land shape, (running, biking, etc) have been a singer for 20 years, spending tons of time on breathing.

The only TI coach I know of in the Philadelphia area is Bill Lang. Have you worked with him at all? Where do you live relative to Philadelphia? (North? South? East? West?)

I swam 500yd freestyle in competition earlier this month. I had no trouble going the distance, but I did have to breathe more frequently than I would when swimming a shorter distance.


Bob

John@NewPaltz 05-30-2018 05:11 PM

Here's one thing that I noticed while getting deeper into TI: While I was able to comfortably sustain a three-stroke breathing pattern for 2.4 miles couple years ago (without seriously following the principles of TI), I now have to use a 2-stroke breathing pattern and the reason is, that my stroke rate went down significantly.
All that "relaxation" and "work less" doesn't mean, that your metabolism will be equivalent to watching TV on the couch. So, after all you still need to keep up with oxygen demand.
I believe, that I've been making great progress on efficiency (June 1st will tell, I'm participating in the Hudson 2-Bridges Swim :-), however, if someone told me to swim 250 yards on a 5-stroke breathing pattern, I'd probably drown.

qsjcraig 06-30-2018 01:28 AM

this is crazy...
 
Important to know, I've only been able to swim 500M continuously one time...and it was a struggle..muscled through it and felt horrible when it was over.

So this week (Wednesday) I started a new 6am morning swim at the summer town pool. Me and a few buddies showed up and like usual, I grinded through my usual 200M swim before feeling like my chest was on fire. After that, I did a bunch of 50s an 100s until I got up to 1000M. Left frustrated again...like usual.

Yesterday, Thursday, we had an early morning thunderstorm and I wound up at the pool alone at 6:30am. On the way to the pool, I was listening to a Howard Stern clip with Dave Matthews and when I started swimming, I still had the songs in my head. Well, for whatever reason, I kept singing them as I swam. I felt relaxed, never once struggled for air, and sang myself to my first 650M continuous swim. I only knew it was 650 when I stopped..not bc I was tired, but bc it felt like I had swam much longer than I have had and I was curious.

Today, Friday, my buddies and I went back again for the 6AM swim. Of course I ate the same exact food prior to the swim yesterday, sang the same three songs in my head while I swam, focused on staying long and lean in the pool, staying relaxed and boom...swam 800M straight.

Now, I know I didn't all of the sudden get better overnight but this is all the proof I needed that swimming is a very mental sport. I am amazed that after swimming 800M straight for the first time, that I got out of the water feeling better than when I went in. This is truly an incredible feeling and up until today, one that I thought I would never experience.

I'm not sure what to make of this, but Monday morning, I'm going to try for 1000M straight and see what happens.

This is crazy!

qsjcraig 07-02-2018 11:36 AM

1100
 
Well, I can say now with complete confidence that TI has changed my swimming and my life. Just got back from the morning swim and did 1100M without stopping. I am amazed and this technique absolutely works. Swimming went from something that left me feeling awful to something that leaves me feeling great and that I look forward to every morning. I feel better all day when I swim. This is incredible! Thank you everyone for your tips and suggestions, they worked!

novaswimmer 07-02-2018 03:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by qsjcraig (Post 65929)

Yesterday, Thursday, we had an early morning thunderstorm and I wound up at the pool alone at 6:30am. On the way to the pool, I was listening to a Howard Stern clip with Dave Matthews and when I started swimming, I still had the songs in my head. Well, for whatever reason, I kept singing them as I swam. I felt relaxed, never once struggled for air, and sang myself to my first 650M continuous swim. I only knew it was 650 when I stopped..not bc I was tired, but bc it felt like I had swam much longer than I have had and I was curious.

This is crazy!

Sometimes a pleasant distraction can help you relax. Relaxation is really key for me.

Here are some of the key scenarios that hinder me from swimming in a relaxed way:

1) I just drove through hellacious traffic trying to get to the pool. My blood pressure is sky high. Will I even get a lane once I get there? If I do get a lane, I need to do some relaxation and deep-breathing exercises.

2) I am watching the clock while in the pool, because I have to be somewhere in X amount of time. Pick up kid from school or be home by a specific time to give my wife a break, whatever....

3) There is someone I am sharing the lane with who is not staying on their side and I get kicked or bumped. Usually it's a really wide-swimming breast stroker. So I find I swim too close to the lane divider and sometimes bump into it. Maybe I'll get over this sometime and just not care.

4) I ate something within the last 2 hours. Even though I feel fine while upright, when I swim it's a whole different feeling to have something in my stomach. I'm best off when I don't eat for 3 or more hours.

qsjcraig 07-02-2018 05:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by novaswimmer (Post 65942)
4) I ate something within the last 2 hours. Even though I feel fine while upright, when I swim it's a whole different feeling to have something in my stomach. I'm best off when I don't eat for 3 or more hours.


I usually in the water by 6:15AM so at the suggestion of a Tower 26 Podcast, I try to eat 1TBSP of peanut butter and 1TBSP of fruit jam around 5:45....eat that with 16oz. of water and maybe 1/2 of a banana. I must've eaten later this morning bc I was definitely feeling a bit weird in the stomach after I got out of the pool.


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