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  #1  
Old 12-03-2008
jmfisch409 jmfisch409 is offline
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Default Striving for mediocrity

I am a 56 year old runner and Ironman triathlete in excellent aerobic shape, very comfortable in the water, but a horribly slow swimmer, consistently placing in the last quartile in long-distance races since I started Triathlon in 2006: 45 minutes for 1.2 mile swims and about 90 minutes for 2.4 miles - breathing heavily the entire way. If I could just be a mid-pack swimmer and do the 2.4 mile swim in about 70 minutes, I'd be a threat to qualify for the Ironman Championship in Kona.

I have taken 15 months of masters swim workout/classes and several private classes, a one-day private class at your studio in New Paltz, and I have just about every one of your DVDs and Books (FME, O2 in H2O, Triathlon swimming made easy) . Throughout 2006-7, I practiced the drills regularly - but no improvement.

Being a horrible swimmer with lots of room for improvement, I thought that improvement should come within a few months by eliminating obvious major flaws in balance and stroke mechanics. Is this unrealistic? Are there some people whose body-types (e.g. a "sinker" in your parlance in one of your DVDs) make it almost impossible to improve significantly? While swimming is the sport where I have the most opportunity for improvement, I can't afford to keep throwing money and time into what seems like a hopeless cause. I'd greatly appreciate your perspective based on years of helping swimmers improve.
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Old 12-03-2008
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Do the rules specify a certain stroke? Is it possible to use, at least at some points, the breaststroke or backstroke?

I'm sure you've heard it before; if you're a sinker, as long as you sink evenly, you won't create more drag. Lack of air, though, can be quite a drag. I heard that wetsuits can add a bit of buoyancy. But maybe adjusting your body role or timing could help.

I'll leave the details to the experts.
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Old 12-03-2008
gobbles gobbles is offline
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"I forget what I was taught, I only remember what I've learnt."-(Patrick White, 1912-1990)

Good swimming takes 'TIME" to brew. Patient and Perseverance is the key. Never give in the born talent, only blood & sweat is what that counts at the end. Leave "Anxiety" out of the equation and you will be on track to success. AHA....
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Old 12-03-2008
mjm mjm is offline
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Two questions Jm:
--what is your stroke rate for 25 meters? Above 20? See paragraph 1. below, from the article "Swim like a Fish". High stroke rate equals high energy output equals "breathing heavily the entire way".

--do you swim schlumpy? In other words, is your torso rigid when you swim or more like a partially deflated condom? See paragraph 2. below.

http://www.svl.ch/svl_swim_like_a_fish.html

1.To propel yourself through the water faster you might, for example, increase your stroke rate. But there's a problem here, Touretski says. You'd soon run out of steam. He cites a passage from his favourite book, Fish Swimming by zoologist John Videler of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, which states that energy consumption in water increases at the cube of the stroking rate. In other words, doubling the speed at which you move your arms through the water takes eight times as much energy.

2. He is known for using unusual props to get his ideas across: he once brought inflated condoms to the pool to show his fellow coaches the importance of maintaining a rigid torso while kicking forward. When deflated, the condoms flopped in the water; inflated, they skimmed across the surface with just a light push.

That being said it's hard to determine what you need to improve without seeing your stroke. Post a video.

Also, as you know, swimming is technique intensive. You want to improve from an average 2:19/100 meters to 1:48/100 meters. That would be huge. I would suggest small, doable, incremental goals at shorter distances, 250 meters/500 meters/1000 meters/1500 meters, etc. --mjm
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Old 12-03-2008
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm View Post
Two questions Jm:
--what is your stroke rate for 25 meters? Above 20? See paragraph 1. below, from the article "Swim like a Fish". High stroke rate equals high energy output equals "breathing heavily the entire way".
An equally relevant question is:
--what is your time for 25 meters?

Is the problem that you can't move fast enough in the water to attain the times you want to attain, or is it that you can move that fast but can't maintain that speed for the distances you need to swim in a triathlon?

Also, if you swim continuous laps in a pool, how far do you have to go before you start to feel out of breath?


Bob
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Old 12-03-2008
madvet madvet is offline
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"breathing heavily the entire way"

I am not sure what your original problems were, but I bet this is holding you back a lot. Your excellent aerobic capacity is allowing you to do this, but it points out that something is wrong. I am mildly asthmatic and in mediocre aerobic shape so I can't get away with poor breathing. The great thing about breathing, is that most of the time if you fix your breathing, your breathing will be fixed.

Relax especially in your chest. Don't force the breath in or out excessively. Still breathing hard? Relax even more. Etc. Strive to breathe as if you were going on a moderate walk. Sure, your time might temporarily suffer. But you can't move forward without fixing this.

Actually, your times aren't really that bad. I bet you would enjoy the whole experience more if your breathing were well controlled. And you might find yourself able to concentrate on the other things that are holding you back. (For example, increased breathing effort usually causes you to drop your hips or your shoulders and wreck your streamlining) Remember, as Terry has said, 90% (or more) of the issue is streamlining.
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Old 12-03-2008
naj naj is offline
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I was also going to suggest being more streamlined. Breathing was always (and at times can be for me) a frustrating thing about freestyle, but the more you roll to breathe as Terry shows in the DVD the more relaxed you'll be and more streamlined as well when you go back to head down position. Also remember to keep that lead hand out there for longer than you think it should be when you roll to breathe. Remember, "lead with your hips and let your head go along for the ride." Hmmm...there's a song in there somewhere :)
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Old 12-03-2008
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madvet View Post
"breathing heavily the entire way"

Relax especially in your chest. Don't force the breath in or out excessively. Still breathing hard? Relax even more. Etc. Strive to breathe as if you were going on a moderate walk. Sure, your time might temporarily suffer. But you can't move forward without fixing this.
I was going to mention this before. The breathe LESS theory. One thing that is helping my breaststroke, for example, is not inhaling more than I really need to. Inhaling too much causes more tension which tires me out. Getting the fuel/air mixture right helps. I don't move fast or go far, so I know I don't need to blow up like a puffer fish.

Was thoroughly exhaling covered?

Last edited by shuumai : 12-03-2008 at 09:16 PM. Reason: forgot one thing
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  #9  
Old 12-04-2008
jmfisch409 jmfisch409 is offline
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jmfisch409
Default Striving for Mediocrity

Thanks for all of the great ideas folks!

In answer to the questions, my stroke rate is high at 22 per 25 meters. I have gotten it down as low as 18 at times, by exagerating the glide portion of the stroke and hesitating in that position. In an effort to relax and save energy, my torso, elbows ankles and shoulders may be a bit schlumpy since it seems to take a lot of energy to straighten my entire body - I can feel the muscles burning.

Many comments were about breathing. I definitely do not exhale fully because I feel myself sinking when I do that. When breathing heavily, I'm afraid to miss a breath. When I first started trying to learn to swim efficiently, I would breathe only on the right every 2nd stroke, but recently a coach told me to breathe every third, forcing me to breathe on both sides, since my stroke was lopsided. I find that after 100 yards or so, that I'm not getting enough air breathing every third, so now I switch back and forth from left to right, breathing every second stroke, occasionally going every third.

From all this I conclude that I'm grossly inefficient, which leads to my frustration. The Law of Diminishing Returns would predict that fixing a few major flaws would lead to fairly big improvement at first, at least enough to make me a mid-pack swimmer.
jmfisch
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  #10  
Old 12-04-2008
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmfisch409 View Post
I find that after 100 yards or so, that I'm not getting enough air breathing every third, so now I switch back and forth from left to right, breathing every second stroke, occasionally going every third.
I'd suggest that you not wait until 100 yards before you start breathing more frequently. You should try to balance left side and right side breathing, but breathing every 3rd stroke isn't the only way to do this. You can breathe for awhile on only one side (every 2nd stroke), then take 3 strokes and start breathing on the other side (every 2nd stroke).

If you run up an oxygen deficit before you switch to more frequent breathing, it's likely to make you feel out of breath and disrupt your stroke the rest of the way.
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