Total Immersion Forums  

Go Back   Total Immersion Forums > Freestyle
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-04-2008
mjm mjm is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 229
Default What Floats Your Boat?

"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".

Jm: Let me suggest that a schlumpy torso cost you more energy plowing through the water than the energy required to stiffen your torso. And keeping a stiff torso gets easier over time as your core gets stronger. But keep your arms relaxed!

For a great explanation and drills check out Mr. E. Hines' article "What Floats your Boat" at this web site:

I think you will be amazed at what mastery of the superman drill will do for your stroke count and breathing. It may take some time but eventually your shoulder blades, butt, and bottoms of your feet will all float on or very near the surface while swimming--just like Shinji.

Also, maybe you should simply breathe every stroke until you get your balance and rigid torso right--one lap breathe every stroke to the right, one lap breathe every stroke to the left. --mjm
Reply With Quote
Old 12-04-2008
splashingpat splashingpat is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 589
Default Breathin' and Not Breathin' and disrupting your stroke

Originally Posted by CoachBobM View Post
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.
Hi "Master" McAdams... After I teach my water aerobics class
A high school swim team comes in and their coaches ask 'em to go up to 3, 5 to 7 strokes in getting their breath...


Last edited by splashingpat : 12-04-2008 at 03:24 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 12-04-2008
CoachBrian CoachBrian is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 138

If you're using FME and TSME, you may be over-rotating, causing you to sink as you try to breathe. This becomes a frustrating cycle - as you sink, you likely rotate more as you lift your head to the air, and then sink more.

As has already been suggested, the Superman Glide might come to your rescue. And, if you're schlumpy, play with finding the minimal muscle recruitment required to lengthen your body line, and align your spine.
Reply With Quote
Old 12-04-2008
shuumai shuumai is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: New Jersey, USA
Posts: 1,077
Send a message via Skype™ to shuumai

Originally Posted by mjm View Post
Also, maybe you should simply breathe every stroke until you get your balance and rigid torso right
One thing that I've been more conscious of is not having an overly tense abdomen. That seems to ease my breathing a bit. The abdomen is like a water-filled balloon. If it's compressed in one area, it will bulge out in another area. I think tension in the abdomen might cause a reduction in the ability of the diaphragm to move and the lungs to expand.

How are the ankles, by the way? Floppy feet?
Reply With Quote
Old 12-04-2008
dp1727 dp1727 is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 6
Default same problem

ive been doing TI drills now for about a combined period of about 6 months. i started but then had 2 rotator cuff/bicep tendon surgeries in 7 months. just now back in the pool using the new tape and revised drills for about 2 months. ive become very proficient doing the drills, use fist gloves every practice. in the drills, i achieve exactly what i believe is taught. when i try to put it all together in whole stroke, everything falls apart. i have difficulty breathing while on my left side and also cannot maintain the desired form beyond 50 meters. very frustrating. i dont think its an endurance problem, but for a technique thats supposed to make happy laps seemingly go on forever, im being disconnected somewhere along the line. ive drilled now doing under and zen switches to do better breathing on the left, but still cant achieve the same results whole-stroke.
Reply With Quote
Old 12-05-2008
Rhoda Rhoda is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 402

It does take time to rebuild your stroke. I was frustrated for about 4 months after an 8 week T.I. class because it felt like my stroke had fallen apart, but then one day it suddenly fell into place. Remember, you are traveling through a medium that the human body mainly wasn't designed for, apart from a few odd features like salt tears. Short repeats are best until you cement the feel of it into place.
Reply With Quote
Old 12-05-2008
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 647

If you can drill okay, but everything seems to fall apart when you try to progress to whole stroke swimming, this generally means that old muscle memories are kicking in and interfering with your new habits. Don't be afraid to continue doing nothing but drills for awhile. As you do this, your new muscle memories will become more and more deeply engrained, and at some point things will seem to "click" (as they did for Rhoda) because your mind will start using those new muscle memories in whole stroke swimming.
Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2008
terry terry is offline
Head Coach
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,305
terry has disabled reputation

I have several thoughts on the question of speed and how to get more of it. But first, the question of whether one should hold a bit of air in the lungs to try to overcome sinking tendencies. I believe that any breath holding will only increase discomfort and difficulty. Both because it will likely lead to increased accumulation of CO2 in the lungs and because it often leads to an increase in muscle tension -- and tense muscles tend to sink more.

John's goal is to improve his pace time for a 2.4 mile swim from 90 to 70 minutes. This translates to improving his pace per 100m from 2 min 22 sec to 1 min 50 sec. Even without seeing John swim, my experience-based inclination is that the first 20 to 24 seconds of improvement in his pace per 100 will come from reducing energy cost -- giving him the ability to maintain a pace he might currently hold only for a shorter swim -- i.e. swimming, say, 8:00 for 400m -- and extend that to a half-mile, mile, 2 miles then 2.4 miles.

Energy savings will come primarily from: (1) active streamlining (i.e. reducing water resistance) and (2) more relaxation -- finding areas of tension and releasing them and finding muscles that are turned on that don't need to be.

The remaining 8 to 10 seconds could come from developing the ability to complete strokes of constant efficiency slightly faster. Let's say that John -- as a result of active streamlining -- can improve his stroke efficiency for 25m to 20 fully rhythmic strokes (no exaggerated glides). A pace of 2:00 per 100m would translate into a stroke rate of approx 1.3 sec per stroke. If he were to begin using a Tempo Trainer and incrementally (i.e. .01 sec at a time) work toward being able to complete those 20-stroke 25m laps in a rate of 1.2 sec per stroke, he would then have picked up 8 seconds per 100 meters (I.E. 80 strokes x .1 sec)

So, how about some suggestions from the Forum community for specific ways John can improve his streamlining and relaxation.

Here are some suggestions I have for improving balance, which is always helpful - These activities are taken from Easy Freestyle.
Superman Glide (SG)
Repeat 3-4 x or until you can't squeeze out another few inches of glide.
Remember the feeling of relaxation, support and effortless travel.

SG to Skate (Sk)
Alternate transition to Right Sk with transition to Left Sk. Work through 2 to 4 or more repeats at each of these focal points:
- Arc your extending hand forward and down. Find the depth at which your feet feel light, but is not causing your shoulders/hips to stack.
- If you feel over-rotation, focus on extending hand slightly outside shoulder line.
- When your hand-targets are accurate and consistent, spear the front of your wrist -- instead of your fingers -- through the targets.
- Test your balance and stability by squeezing your legs together for a moment after you arrive in Skating position. Can you maintain "non-kicking balance and stability) slightly longer via control through "conscious tone" in your core body.
- Use your extending hand to separate water molecules then slide that side of your body -- torso, hips, knees, feet -- through that hole.

Alternate Drill and Swim (Sw)
Do the drill above going one way. Swim on the way back - will only be 3 to 4 strokes. Choose focal points from the list above and use for both drill and swim. Repeat for 5 to 8 minutes until you can consistently bring the strongest sensations of support, stability and effortless travel from SG to Sk to Sw

Swim a "Pyramid" Repeat Series
Swim a series of repeats, increasing the distance by one length on subsequent repeats as long as you continue to feel those sensations, as follows:
Swim 25. If you feel balanced, stable and effortless, Swim 50. If you feel balanced, stable and effortless, Swim 75. Continue the sequence until the sensations break down. Then reverse the sequence back to 25. Repeat the pyramid series as many times as you wish trying to raise the top of the Pyramid on subsequent series. E.G:

You could also choose one focal point (or a new lower SPL) and do this with one focal point, up to a certain distance, then start an entirely new sequence with a different focal point. When working on a new focal point I've often done this kind of sequence up to 200 - but not necessarily in reverse.
25-50-75-100-125-150-175-200 (900 yds total)
If I do reverse, going from 175 back down to 25 after completing the "ladder" series above, then my series totals 1600.
This has proven a very effective way to develop both my "mental endurance" and my "muscle endurance" at the same time. By "muscular endurance" I mean the resistance of a new motor skill or movement pattern to fatigue or breakdown. As we discussed I think that both forms of endurance are actually more important to completing a very long swim than aerobic endurance. For the last 8 or 10 years I've prioritized the development of mental and muscle endurance, while letting aerobic endurance just "happen" as a consequence of the hours each week I work on mental and muscle endurance.
Reply With Quote
Old 12-10-2008
jmfisch409 jmfisch409 is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 3
Default Mediocrity

Thanks to Terry and again to all for the great suggestions which I will now take to the pool.
Reply With Quote
Old 12-10-2008
Lexi Lexi is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5
Default Another Slow learner

I though I would reply, since you inspired me to actually register after years of reading these posts as a guest.

It was such a relief to read your original post - there's someone else who suffers from the same slow progress! It's not the slow's seeing other people start as even slower swimmers than I am, get some coaching, some TI, some practice, and soon go zooming past.

I, too have spent more than two years conscientiously practicing TI drills, and while I haven't had a TI clinic (there's only been one up here in Alaska, and it's expensive to fly out for one) I have had considerable private and group instruction; my coach is familiar with TI and has encouraged me to use the drills, DVDs, etc as well as her coaching. And yet. Still slow. (slower than you by a lot - 53 min for 1.2 miles) I live for the day that I can swim 500 yards of crawl faster than I can swim 500 yards of side stroke.

So there were three points I wanted to make to you, about "continuing to throw time and money at a hopeless cause".

1) Give yourself credit right now for what you can do. You are not a bad swimmer, you are a really accomplished swimmer. Imaging having a conversation outside your triathlon friends, swimming friends, or this forum. Just with a regular person who never goes to the pool or runs a race. Tell them you are horrible, that it takes you so-o-o-o long to swim 2.4 miles. Before you bike 112. and then run 26.2. They will either laugh at you or just look bewildered. You are an accomplished swimmer, just not as accomplished as the folks you hang out with.

2) Try to really examine your swimming and drilling, especially for balance issues. Fistgloves really help me with this. Yes, they help me develop feel for the water, but mostly they expose my otherwise unconscious shoving around of the water with my hands to maintain balance. For me, this doesn't show up on any of the kicking-only balance drills, only when I start putting the stroke together. But if you're practicing the drills, drilling and swimming mindfully, and not getting more efficient (and thus faster) it's likely that you're not in an efficient position moving through the water.

3) examine your various goals. When I'm frustrated about my (lack of) progress, I have to keep reminding myself that I love swimming, I love the water, and I love learning to be more efficient, to have a more elegant (in math or science terms) stroke. My goal isn't competitive, it's to swim really smoothly and efficiently. I have a long long way to go, but I still enjoy every swim. I'm in my mid-fifties too, and if we don't enjoy our training as well as our racing (although some pain and tedium are unavoidable to get the most joy) then we should find something where we do, because life is too short. If competitive success is really important to you, and swimming is standing in your way, and you have no other reason to swim than that it's the first event in a triathlon, well, then, go race some duathlons. Or maybe you, too, love to swim but you're just frustrated. Then find ways to remind yourself that you love to swim (for me that's open water or scuba, but for decide). But if you have a goal of being a better, faster swimmer, and that's important to you, the you're not throwing away time and money, you're investing it.

Good Luck!!

(and thanks, Terry, I'll go practice Superman Glide and flutter)
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are Off
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

All times are GMT. The time now is 02:49 PM.

Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.