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newbie in need of swim advice

Hi everyone, this is my first post here.

I'm hoping that some of you may be able to offer some good advice???

I'm a complete novice to Triathlon and intend on entering some Sprints later this year.

I have been teaching myself front crawl since around September last year. I've been trying to teach myself from a book called Total Immersion. In the book it tells you to roll your body from your hips to make yourself more streamlined. To keep looking at the bottom of the pool and to keep your head down so as to ''press your buoy''. To reach out as far as you can and hold your leading arm until the recovering arm hits the water so that you keep your body as long as possible.

Well i'd been trying this method and felt like I had hit a brick wall. I knew that I was making mistakes especially with the breathing. I have been breathing every 3rd breath and from both sides but have been turning my head too far around so that it's virtually facing the ceiling.

sooooo...........I thought that I'd go along to my local pool tonight for some coaching as I've never had any before. The problem is that I came away completely confused over how to swim correctly.

The coach (who was very helpful) told me that I was keeping my arms too straight when in the recovery. I was keeping the leading arm out in front too long and should be pulling back with the leading hand before the recovering hand hit the water and that I was looking down when I should be looking forward - with the brow of my head touching the top of the water.

Now I'm a complete novice and willing to learn from what anyone will teach me but I'm just confused over how I should be learning to swim. The coach, who i don't doubt is very good at his job has contradicted everything that I had read in the book.

Can anyone please advise on the best method to be learning?????

Thanks from a very confused beginner


  • I don't have any answers but just wanted to post to say that I am in a similar position.

    I taught myself TI and used it to complete a couple of Half ironman races BUT I found I couldn't improve my speed (about 40mins for 2000m). I felt relaxed and found I could cover the distance with very little effort but I wasn't fast. I then decided to go back to the conventional stroke and in the pool I am faster using this BUT it seems to take more energy and more strokes per length. I have blogged about some of my results here


    So I am wondering whether to continue with TI and conserve energy for the bike/run or go to a conventional stroke and get a faster swim time. I'm going to try experimenting with the wetsuit next becasue I'm wondering whether the glide of the TI will be more beneficial with the wetsuit on.

    Hope you get some better replies to your question.


  • grant1974grant1974 Posts: 262
    Hi guy's,

    My advice would be to join your local tri club. I joined mine in October last year and my swimming, biking and running have come on in leaps and bounds. The regular coaching really pays off.

    Good luck

  • going by the advice i have had in the past and simply by watching a wide variety of swimmers i have come to the conclusion that swimming purist swim slightly differently to triathlete's. Swimmers dont have to cycle and run off the bike so they can give it their all in the pool whereas triathlete's need to conserve energy... hence the long stroke and fewer kicks!!!

    As grant said, joining a tri club would be a good idea. That way you'll know the coaching is specific.

  • jon_gjon_g Posts: 318
    Ok, the problem the original poster has is: you've taught yourself to swim the 'total immersion way' and the coach you've been to see is not teaching the same method. The total immersion way of swimming (and dont get me wrong, i've tried it) is good if you dont have any history in swimming ie you are new to swimming or are a poor front-crawler. if you are an experienced swimmer you'll soon get bored with it and find it's limitations.

    I've tried it and found i couldnt get a ny faster after a point. I've now taken some bits of it and left other parts out. I'm much quicker and conserving lots of energy. Take what you want from total immersion, but you need to find what works for you
  • a4asha4ash Posts: 29
    I have always been able to swim, kind of? ie. get from one end of the pool to the other, i started swimming regular on a wed night with friends who said, try this, try that and over time i was able to 100m in around 1min 50 x 10 sets, i got stuck at this speed and another friend gave me the book total immersion, by the way i couldnt swim more than 250m in one go, anyway i learned myself total immersion and can now swim 2000m no problem, around 45 mins but my 100m time is now around 2min 10 for 10 sets ie. 20 secs slower.

    If i go back to swimming my old way i can go back to doing it quicker, but tire out after the usual 10 sets or 250m straight, maybe i need more practise with total immersion?

    To throw another factor in, if you are slightly fatter its easier to swim, something to do with bouyancy but if you are muscular and low fat, it is much harder to get the balance right, i might be wrong but as i lean up my swimming gets harder to stay floating and my legs drop, im currently around 14 1/2 stone but under 10% bodyfat, i swam much more efficient at 17% bodyfat but couldnt run.

    sorry if ive made things more confusing???

    im off for a swim, (but with a broken finger which is now sporting lots of duck tape and a carrier bag to cover my splint and bandages i may drown)...........

  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    jon_g wrote:

    I've tried it and found i couldnt get a ny faster after a point. I've now taken some bits of it and left other parts out. I'm much quicker and conserving lots of energy. Take what you want from total immersion, but you need to find what works for you

    I've started TI some time ago, still working on it. But I already think the same way about it as you experienced it . Makes you faster, but with limitations. All in all a good technique though.(fair is fair).
  • a4asha4ash Posts: 29
    [quote]im off for a swim, (but with a broken finger which is now sporting lots of duck tape and a carrier bag to cover my splint and bandages i may drown)...........[/quote

    swim didnt go down to well,

    my advice to anyone who's thinking of swimming with a broken finger.........don't

    the bag filled up with water, then when i took it off it was agony, probably have to go back to hospital as splint and bandage all fallen off now,

    arghhh....when i get back training properly?
  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    I wish I was there, a4ash [:D][;)].

    Patience mate, you'll get there in the end, injuries take time, re-injuries take a lot more!
  • davithdavith Posts: 2
    Thanks for your replies guys. I will track down my local Tri club
  • ashthetashashthetash Posts: 164
    My swim used to be appalling. 7:30+ for 300m, 27 strokes per 25M and 300m was my absolute max in one go. I decided I needed to do something so I tried TI. 12 hours of pool work and my stroke count was down to 15, 300m was around 6:15 and I can certainly go further.

    That said I can also see the potential limitations of swimming pure TI.

    What I found really interesting was some of the philosphy behind the system as it relates to triathlon.

    Specifically what do you want to achieve. Unless you are at the elite end of the market your swim needs to be as good as you can get without compromising the cycle/run. The last two disciplines are where you can get the best gain for increased energy expended.

    Being relaxed in the water and focussing on style will provide huge benefits for a weak swimmer but as with any training system a plateau will be reached where further gains are few and far between. That is the point where you need to consider what more you want from your swim and how much time and effort you can put into achieving this and whether the impact this will have on bike/run training will be acceptable.

    A note on the breathing. I initially had a problem breathing every third stroke. I then realised that swimming 25m in 30 sec and 15 strokes meant that I was breathing 10 times a minute. I then considered that in an emergency situation respiration at less than 10 a minute is an indication for assisted ventilation. It was hardly surprising I was having trouble with my breathing when I was going at 10 a minute during exercise. I tried breathing every other stroke and everything became much easier. Now I don't worry about my rate I just try and make sure that I am breathing to each side at some point during the swim.
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