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  #1  
Old 03-24-2013
krollag krollag is offline
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krollag
Default From Zero to Alcatraz – Thanks TI

TI Coaches and Swimmers:

Just some encouragement to TI self-coachers… if I can do it, anyone can!
Two and half years ago I dreaded putting my face in the water, and couldn’t make a lap without getting out of breath Like many I wanted to do triathlons, but was anxious swimming, especially in lakes.

I bought the Perpetual Motion DVD and started in on the drills. Sometimes the progress was swift and exciting, sometimes slow and frustrating. But lurking in this forum kept me optimistic that eventually I might get better, and someday might even come to enjoy swimming.

I bought an underwater video camera and started analyzing my stroke, comparing my form to Terry and Shinji every few weeks and looking for the most obvious things I could change to make me more balanced and streamlined. Breathing was problematic for a long time, but after I got balanced and more relaxed in the water the breathing became easier, and after six months or so I noticed I wasn’t as winded at the end of a lap. One continuous lap became two, then three, and then I was measuring my continuous swims in minutes and even up to an hour and beyond. These days I don’t even think about breathing anymore.

As I became more relaxed and confident with my stroke, the prospect of a lake swim seemed less daunting, and I did my first lake-based tri swim about 9 months after starting. Last year I did 1.2 and 2.4 mile lake-based tri swims, and two weeks ago completed the swim leg of the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.

If you would have told me three years ago that I would end up swimming 1.5 miles in choppy, 52 degree ocean water I would have laughed at you. But the 45 minute swim was a complete joy, and I was sad when it was over. A lot of veteran Alcatraz swimmers complained about the rough water, but with my TI stroke I was relaxed the entire time, and was actually having fun trying to sight to shore as I crested waves. I would get water in my mouth from time to time, but it never caused the anxiety it did when I first started.

Anyway, thanks to Terry, all the TI coaches on this forum, and everyone else who has been providing advice and encouragement over the years. This self-coached lurker has benefited enormously. I’m still a work in progress – I have an average, steady-state SPL of around 18 SPL (20 yard pool) and a single length best of 14 SPL, and am a 50th percentile age group swimmer in most triathlons. But with the mindful TI approach I’m confident I’ll continue to improve, and wonder what one of those 10k swims might be like. Swimming has gone from something I dreaded to something I find joy in each day.

Thanks again everybody,

Keith
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  #2  
Old 03-24-2013
CoachStuartMcDougal's Avatar
CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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Default Congrats!!!

CONGRATS Keith! That was a tough swim, required a long clean edge (streamline) and timing your breath between the chop. I had three students out there too, 42, 45, and 52 mins respectively. And the later two this was their first triathlon and only 3rd open water swim!!

You heard we lost a swimmer this year at Escape from Alcatraz - first one in 33 year history of the race. Initial reports were he died at the jump and had a "cardiac condition". He was actually found 1/2 mile into the swim where ebb collides and chop is at its greatest. And the latest reports are indicating the swimmer drowned. I passed dozens of distressed swimmers resorting to breaststroke and drinking a ton of water from getting slapped in the face by surge and chop. And over 300 had to be picked up and/or were treading water for close to two hours.

Given you made it through that swim, with flying colors is amazing - and testimony to your determination, mindful practice, and Total Immersion.

Thanks for sharing - and CONGRATS again on an awesome swim - NICE WORK!

Stuart
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  #3  
Old 03-24-2013
CoachLuisaFonseca CoachLuisaFonseca is offline
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Congratulations!

I think it's really admirable that you self coached yourself to those results :) you must have tremendous self-discipline... and will power!
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  #4  
Old 03-25-2013
dgk2009 dgk2009 is offline
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I hope some day I can say the same,great job!!!
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  #5  
Old 03-25-2013
krollag krollag is offline
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krollag
Default Thanks

Coach McDougal:

Great to hear your students successfully completed the swim too. Very sad to hear about the swim death - I think I was sitting near him as the ferry took us out to the island.

TI definitely made all the difference for me in this swim. I think being balanced made riding the waves a lot easier, and practicing sighting in the pool (while trying to remained balanced and streamlined) made it easier in the open water too.

The other pool drill that made a difference was intentionally taking in a little bit of water in the mouth during breathing, and then spitting it back out. Once my brain accepted the fact that a little water in the mouth wasn't a big deal, there was less panic in breathing. Swim and nod drills also helped me realize I could skip a breath here and there without getting winded.

I followed the sighting advice on the Escape website, and it worked perfectly. I swam a little right of perpendicular to the shore, and shifted from sighting point to sighting point as the current carried me to the right. I hit shore right in front of the beach exit.

Again, if I can do this, anyone can... thanks again!

Keith
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  #6  
Old 03-26-2013
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krollag View Post
Once my brain accepted the fact that a little water in the mouth wasn't a big deal, there was less panic in breathing. Swim and nod drills also helped me realize I could skip a breath here and there without getting winded.
Congratulations on your accomplishment Keith !

I think your comment about "a little water in the mouth" quoted above, is a really huge factor we have to accept in learning "breathing without panic". A bit of water plays into the whole thing about "bite of air" and relaxed breathing. I'm almost "thrilled" to see someone actually state it as you did. I think this is why my learning to breathe has been difficult. I've fought acceptance of that. At the end of last summer breathing started to work, and a bit of water in my mouth was part of it. I dealt with it without panic and breathing became easier. Since then I've regressed a bit and realize I must re-learn to deal with water in the mouth while breathing. Somehow the simplest things (that I miss) are the key to solving the problems. I feel that you've turned on a light bulb for me. Thanks!
Mike
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Last edited by Mike from NS : 03-26-2013 at 12:21 AM.
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  #7  
Old 03-26-2013
craig.arnold@gmail.com craig.arnold@gmail.com is offline
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Great work. Congratulations!
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  #8  
Old 03-26-2013
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CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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Yup, totally agree with Mike, spot on. Learning to hold a little water in your cheek when breathing is so important, and NOT altering your stroke to get the breath if you didn't find air - and wait to get it on the next stroke or two. AWESOME! That's how ya breathe or patient breath :-)

The SF Bay is my fav swimming hole, it's quite a treat and accomplishment to swim across that bay at max ebb and find the swim finish, kinda like threading a needle. If you are local or near SF, there are many swims you might enjoy by Water World Swim, Coach Pedro (not a TI coach, but a great coach): Swim Around the Rock, Alctraz Touch and Go, Swim with the Centurians (those that have 100+ Bay crossings), Bridge to Bridge and many others. B-to-B is a 10k swim starts at the Golden Gate and finishes just past the Oakland Bay Bridge, swimming at flood (bay is filling from low to high tides) so you get a tail wind through entire swim - weeeeee.

Congrats again Keith, keep up the good work!

Happy Swimming!

Stuart
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  #9  
Old 03-26-2013
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
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Thanks Stuart ! It is nice to have someone in authority agree with me!

I tried some acclimatization with breathing with little concern over water in the mouth today; but will need more than one day (and when already tired out, at that) to become more complacent with it. Actually all I did was not worry about taking in water while breathing and deal with it when it happened but made sure not to lose stroke. The more I do this the easier and less stressful breathing should become.
Mike
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  #10  
Old 03-28-2013
hiabhijeet hiabhijeet is offline
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This is AWESOME!! Heartiest Congratz!!
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