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  #1  
Old 06-09-2010
romeo romeo is offline
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romeo
Default Learning from book/DVD alone?

My first post here...

I would dearly love to get some TI teaching to help with my freestyle swimming, but where I live (Norwich, UK), there do not appear to be any TI coaches locally. I've been trying to learn from the Total Immersion book and the Freestyle Made Easy DVD, and have been making some progress, but not as fast as I'd like. I was wondering whether many people on here have learned by themselves without actual tuition?

My main motivation has been that I am to do a sprint triathlon (my first) in about 10 days time, which starts with a 30 x 25m swim stage. While I'd have no real problem doing it with breaststroke, which I'm OK at, I'd much prefer to use crawl (freestyle for US readers), partly because it should be faster but mainly because it should take far less out of my legs, important for the bike and run stages. I've been trying hard to get to the point where I can swim crawl without running into breathing problems, so that I can at the very least throw in 10 or so lengths of crawl on the day and spare my legs. Speed isn't really key - the ability to do it without getting panicky and flustered is what is most important for me right now.
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  #2  
Old 06-09-2010
cmperkins cmperkins is offline
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Romeo,

Welcome to the TI world! There don't appear to be that many of us in the UK.

I made significant progress from the book and Easy Free DVD, trying to be disciplined about the drill progression. You will feel when it's right. I would watch a lesson before going to the pool and just practice those drills. You watch them often enough and you'll be able to replay them in your head and sense whether what you're doing resembles what Terry's doing in the DVD.

I too had a tri looming that I wanted a reasonable freestyle stroke for. After about four months of drilling and feeling like I was getting it, I decided to shell out for a day's 1:1 coaching with Ian Smith in Loughborough (not that far from you) - he's head coach for TI in the UK (see http://www.totalimmersion.co.uk/ )

The flight was next to nothing on BMIbaby into East Mids, but then the ash came along, but that's another story. It was money well spent. Ian is an excellent coach.

I did the day a month before the tri and made significant further progress on some fundamental weaknesses - notably breathing. Did the tri last Sunday with my swim leg two minutes faster than my predicted time (pre-TI).

Somewhere in the EF manual Terry says you need a minimum of 10-20hours on the drill lessons. I'd probably done about 30 on my own before the coaching and maybe another 8-10 hours after the coaching before the triathlon. I'm still a work in progress.

So unless you've already put in a lot of hours, it's probably not all going to come together in the next ten days I'm afraid. Don't worry though, triathlons are very friendly events with all abilities taking part. There will be a lot of people there doing breast stroke or back stroke. So don't panic about being surrounded by elite athletes, because you won't be!

Keep telling yourself to go off at a comfortable pace. The nerves and the adrenalin can make you dash off and you'll probably then have a tough swim and a rubbish experience of the whole thing. Take it easy, enjoy it and don't get hung up about having to do the crawl. Do a few relaxed lengths if you can, or alternate 50's of crawl and breast stroke, and just enjoy the event.

If you can't sort out the coaching, I would highly recommend you find a way to video yourself and post it on YouTube and link to it here. The quality of free coaching you'll get from forum members is excellent. I'm going to get an underwater camera bag from here so that I can do that.

On breathing, read the post in the O2 in H2O forum about going from 2 lengths to a mile in 2 weeks - it's all about breathing right.

Do what you can in the next couple of weeks, but don't rush it. TI is all about continuous improvement!

Good luck, and keep posting your progress here!

Chris.
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  #3  
Old 06-09-2010
romeo romeo is offline
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Chris, thanks for the thoughtful response! I might try to get across to Ian Smith some time in the not too distant future. My main motivation has been this upcoming triathlon but I also really want to be able to swim crawl well for its own sake, especially as it was something I used to be able to do well at the age of 13-14 (long, long ago). I'm not really expecting to make that much more progress with the TI technique in the next 10 days, but anything I can do which will help with the breathing will be beneficial.

I'd love to be able to post some video on here, but unfortunately the pool where I swim has a camera ban, not sure why. I could learn a great deal from seeing myself on video.

Thanks for the tips on the triathlon itself. I'm nervous about the swim stage, but I hope I won't make the mistake of going out too fast. I'm actually primarily a runner and do a lot of road races, and have learned to be pretty disciplined about pacing. It would be a shame to screw things up before I even get to the running stage!
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Old 06-09-2010
cmperkins cmperkins is offline
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Romeo,
One of the most common problems with breathing is not exhaling all the time your face is in the water. Are you doing that?

Most people get out of breath not because of a shortage of oxygen but because of a build up of CO2 from holding their breath.

Aim for a nice, steady rhythm - the swimming equivalent of conversational pace in running. You don't want to be gasping for breath.

I'm sure you won't screw things up! Enjoy it!

Chris.
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Old 06-10-2010
romeo romeo is offline
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Yes, I'm sure you're right about the exhaling. I've been working on getting the rhythm right so I exhale fully before inhaling, and when I manage to do that, it feels a lot better. As with all these things, though, it comes and goes - you feel you've made a breakthrough and then next lap you can't reproduce it.

I have found that going at a reasonably brisk tempo actually makes things a little easier for me, and I suspect it's because it makes it easier for me to maintain a good balance in the water. I have a lean runner's build, with legs which seem to want to drop like a stone, particularly if I slow the pace down too much.
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  #6  
Old 06-10-2010
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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I would add that correct breathing technique is minimalist, in that achieving it tends to involve carefully subtracting from the head (and possibly body) movements you make as a beginner rather than changing them or doing anything else differently.

In essence, correct breathing occurs as the result of correct spearing and reaching. The latter will practically bring the head to air in the right way without you having to do anything extra. You then add a small extension to the head turn by using the neck muscles, just as your reaching arrives at maximal extension.

This gives you the one-goggle-underwater technique and allows unhurried breathing while helping you swim in a straight line (because head-spine alignment is maintained throughout).
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  #7  
Old 06-10-2010
romeo romeo is offline
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romeo
Default Breathing too often?

Lawrence, thanks for your input. From time to time, I've got this rotation thing right and it certainly does it make it possible to just breathe at that point, without having to do anything special. The trick for me is to make sure that I've exhaled fully by that point.

I just had an odd (and probably ridiculous) thought about what part of my problem might be with the breathing, though. I am actually, in cardiovascular terms, pretty fit, as I do a lot of competitive running up to marathon distance, at a decent pace (e.g., 38-39 mins for 10k). So I am pretty efficient with oxygen, and have good lung capacity. In attempting to swim crawl, though, I am deliberately going at a very leisurely pace that doesn't make my heart work much at all - yet I'm taking far more breaths than I would be for that level of work outside the pool. Is it possible that I should just breathe less frequently and give myself more time to naturally exhale the used air, thus matching my breathing more to my workrate?
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Old 06-10-2010
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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Romeo, as you suggest, your fitness isn't the issue. As you also suggest, the next step is to ensure you exhale fully before inhaling. I found the way to do this is to:

1. have a rule that whenever the face is underwater, I'm exhaling; and

2. ensure that I don't rush the stroke; that is, let breathing follow the stroke rather than allowing it to affect stroke timing.

As to how often you should breathe, I breathe to the same side every stroke (i.e. every two hand entries). If I want to breathe bilterally I have that option but breathing to the same side maximises oxygen availability and lends a sense of security and comfort, so it's my default breathing style. I should add that I breathe to the left for one length of the pool then to the right on the way back, and aim for a stroke that is exactly the same regardless of which I side I breathe to.

It's possible that you're breathing 'too often' although I doubt it. More likely you're not exhaling fully and have yet to achieve a fully relaxed and 'lazy' stroke. I would work on those before breathing less often.

Last edited by Lawrence : 06-10-2010 at 11:01 AM.
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  #9  
Old 06-10-2010
romeo romeo is offline
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Just had a good session at the pool now, with everything feeling a little more relaxed and breathing being less of an issue. I was concentrating on rotating more than I had been, while at the same time keeping 'wide tracks' (or at least what my understanding of it is). It's becoming more normal for me to exhale fully (or at least enough), which is helping a lot. I'm still painfully slow (25 metres is taking around 30 seconds), which puzzles me (I assume I'm wasting effort somewhere), but speed isn't my primary consideration for now.
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  #10  
Old 06-10-2010
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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For what it's worth, I think speed should be the last item on anyone's list. First you get the stroke right. Then you speed it up. I would estimate, conservatively, that 99% of freestylers begin working on speed before securing good form.
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