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  #1  
Old 05-15-2014
luigiz luigiz is offline
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luigiz
Default Impaired swimming

Hi all !

It's the first time I write on this forum.
I just turned 40 and I had a brachial plexus injury when I was 17.
Due to my disability my left arm active movements are very limited: i can bend the elbow and the wrist, close my hand to a fist, weakly and extend the fingers, the wrist and (very very wealky) the elbow; my shoulder movements are very poor, intra - extra rotation is good.
In the water I tried for years to gain full left arm movements of the free style. The result so far is that I am very inefficient. I can't find a way to swim stragiht and streamlined using both arms.
No TI coaches exist near the place I live (Bologna, Italy)
The main problems for me are:
- skating on the left my left arm goes to a L-like position
- I am not able to fully recover the left arm, so I am short and wide on the letf side
- my left push is weak

I started triathlon (seriously) last year so now I need to get a good swim technique. For this I read the Total immersion book and started pacticing it but after 6 months I still feel very inefficient and slow in the water (my last test was 13 minutes to swim 400 m in a 20 m length pool).
Last week a trainer suggested me to use only the right arm (I saw other triathletes in my paralympic category swimming this way). So I gave it a try doing a little time of my practice with only the right arm (keeping the left long to side).
The result in a 100 m test (in the 20 m pool) yesterday was 1 second slower with 1 arm than with 2 arms, with only very little practice on 1 arm. Moreover who watched me said I free style is a lot more clean and straight.

Given the fact I am interested in performance, swimming speed and easyness, I am seriously thinking about swimming only on one arm (of course I'll keep swimming on both arms but only for exercise and non racing purposes).

So I ask your opinion, expecially the coaches and those of you more experienced of me in fishlike swimming: what do you think of the TI swimming on one arm ?
Is it feasable ? Or is it better to keep on trying with both arms ?

Thank you very much

Luigi
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  #2  
Old 05-15-2014
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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best to get a video.
One arm swimming shows the problems that arise if there is a big gap between propulsive phases and possibly a less than optimal streamline.
The solution often is a shorter stroke at a faster strokerate, using only the most effective part of the armstroke with lttle downtime between strokes.
Like said earlier its very hard to give meaningfull advice without a video.
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  #3  
Old 05-15-2014
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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After hearing your unique situation I was going to suggest sticking with 1 armed swimming before even reading your conclusion. THere may be ways the left arm can help but it's not going to be with a typical stroking motion, perhaps an underwater sculling movement as charles shows in some of his videos, I"ll see if I can find examples.
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Coach of 5 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
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  #4  
Old 05-16-2014
luigiz luigiz is offline
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Zenturtle thanks, I'll post a video to clarify my situation when I'll have it. Anyway the problem I find with your suggestion of a shorter-faster stroke with little downtime (sliptime) betweeen strokes (that's what I practice when I swim on both arms) is that my shoulder weakness limits so much my left arm (and so all the) strokerate.

CoachSuzanne thank you very much for the hint. I'll try to work on this solution and report here. Any examples would be very appreciated.

Last edited by luigiz : 05-16-2014 at 10:37 AM.
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  #5  
Old 05-16-2014
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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ok, not so good idea perhaps to give any advice before seeing video
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  #6  
Old 05-25-2014
CoachToddE CoachToddE is offline
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First congratulations on your swimming to date and determination to improve. A video would be a great help.

I work with wounded warriors and adaptive swimmers. I have had several that were either had one arm amputated just below the shoulder or one individual was actually more like a stroke impaired with the loss of use of the right arm and partially the leg for kicking purposes.

I have taught them one arm freestyle. The key for them was to first learn to balance and relax and then learn to relax on their good side while that arm was extended out in the skate position. The use of the tempo trainer helped slow their stroke down to a point we could work and get a good rhythm going without a constant churning effort that tired them quickly. I had them practice breathing to pulling arm side and non pulling side to figure out which they felt more comfortable with.

The individual with the more stroke problems actually completed a sprint ow triathlon 3 months after we started working on his swimming. He couldn't swim at all when we first met. He was a prior swimmer but couldn't figure it out after his injuries.

Best of luck.
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  #7  
Old 05-28-2014
luigiz luigiz is offline
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Thank you for the contribution CoachToddE !

As I started this topic I started practicing one arm freestyle.
What I can say so far is that having acquired some confidence and balance on one arm, my swim (as compared to two arms swimming) is more economical, more smooth and more streamlined. Moreover I manage to swim straight more easily. Only disadvantage being little less speed in the short distances (100, 200 m).

I had a sprint triathlon 2 weeks ago with swim leg in the sea (waves and current), it was very difficult, I swam partly on two arm a pratly on one. The feling was better on one than on two. I swam the 750 m in about 29', that's too much.
Another sprint triathlon last sunday with swim leg in a 50 m pool, again one arm was more fluent, relaxed and less demanding than two arms. Unfortunately I had a slower athlete just ahead that I couldn't manage to pass, so I couldn't take on my own rithm. I swam the 750 m in 19' that's better but still not good.

I'll keep on practicing and update the topic.
I'll post a video as I got it.

Thank you all

Luigi
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  #8  
Old 05-28-2014
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CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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Hi Luigi,

Adding to Coach Todd's response with his athlete's and their disabilities. Coach Dave Cameron has been coaching a Paraolympian swimmer, "Natalie". She's missing her right arm just below the elbow and swims the 100m free in 1:08 and 100y in 1:00 flat. Faster than any of my swimmers with two good arms in my squad. One swimmer asked, "how does she swim so fast with one arm?". My response: Natalie swims with two powerful hips! This certainly helped me drive home (pun intended) the theme for the week's Masters practice: "Hip drive - engaging the core" :-)

Keep up the good work!

Stuart
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  #9  
Old 05-30-2014
luigiz luigiz is offline
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Thank you CoachStuartMcDougal for your very encouraging notes !
Is it possible to see Natalie's swimming style ? Are there any videos available ?

As I'm trying to reduce drag and enhance my slipstream I'm trying to improve my kicking technique (2 beat kick) in order to get maximum power while minimizing the effort (I need not to go out of the water with exhausted leg as I need them for the bike and run portions).

Here are two videos I managed to get.

on both arms:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7uo-Jp2Jio

on single arm (I breath on the opposite side on the go, and on the same side coming back):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R82jwkHbOa0

Any remark will be appreciated.
Thank you again
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  #10  
Old 05-30-2014
luigiz luigiz is offline
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luigiz
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PS: sorry for the poor quality, the videos were taken by my mobile phone.
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