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Talkback: Six common swimming struggles for beginners

I can honestly say all of these have gone through my head. I used to be a good swimmer but have not been for few years. Now my breathing and stroke are well out of whack and I have my first tri on 21st June? EKKKKKKKKK wondering how im going to do this now???


  • My biggest struggle - is getting past the 2-lengths hurdle. Up to 25M I'm ok if not great (35 secs); 50M getting raggedy (70 secs); somewhere between 50 & 70 I corpse. I've tried going slower, but that just makes it longer between breaths & I hit oxygen debt. Tried different breathing patterns of every 2nd or 3rd of 4th stroke, all to no avail.
  • Andrew4Andrew4 Posts: 190

    Follystone - this will sound like arguably the dumbest thing you have heard (and you look equally stupid unfortunately), but I originally found that my breathing was poor and determined that I wasn't using my time efficiently when my head was out of the water.


    In order to correct this problem I would generally spend a few minutes (ideally when the pool was quiet/empty) once or twice a week like face down in the water with my feet hooked over the steps and doing "bubble bubble bubble breath" to focus on limiting my head movement and improving my breathing quality and efficiency (I did move my arms almost doggy paddle underwater to mimic my stroke rhythm but didn't apply any power). I found that without having the distractions of actually swimming I was able to focus on how I was breathing, how my head and body reacted to the way I was breathing and tweak my movements to reduce "head up, legs down" syndrome and make breathing more comfortable and natural - and the benefits of this can then be felt when actually swimming.

  • Thanks Andrew, I can definitely see the logic of that suggestion. I'll give it a go.
  • I've recently been going through the same thing, really struggling to pass 50m. 

    lets go through the 6 problems....  in reverse order.

    6. Lacking focus to train at swimming - Swimming is a key issue for m, I'm VERY focused on training on it, in fact I do it more than both other sections combined

    5.Getting bored - I do have the patience of a four year old with ADHD but I've never got bored so far, but I do mix up distance and the few drills I know

    4. Pool Toys - don't have any, not a problem

    3.Daunted by poolside - I'm 5'9 and weigh 15st, my gut hangs over my jammers. Once people have seen me, they've seen me. Yes i don't like what I see in the mirror but Hey, I'm sure anyone staring at me probably has a few niggles about themselves too

    Points 1 and 2 are the Keys for me.  

    Thinking about times for your 25 and 50 are all well and good but that can focus you on speed for that short distance. Remember for most sprints you've got to do ten times that 50. This may seem like a cop out, but initially focus on just getting to the end of the fifty, then 75, then 100.  

    For me the big one is point 1 knowing what to focus on. Breathing is key. But as it says don't think you've got to instantly be in a 1in3 pattern or a 1in4... 

    The reasons you're out of breath after 50 is likely to be 

    A. You're not breathing comfortably

    B. You're putting in one hell of an effort

    C.  Both. 

    Listen to me trying to sound like I know - I've only kind of passed this struggle. ..

    Confidence in the water allows you to focus on other things, rather than your impending death by drowning if you don't make it to the wall.  That Confidence comes from Comfort. if you're comfortable breathing once every 2 stroke - breath  once every 2.

    Secondly I went to a local Tri session, swallowed what little pride I had left from plodding out on to poolside andgot in the beginners lane, within ten minutes the coach spotted a few key things.  I was constantly looking forwards, this was tilting my head back, and dropping my hips. Instantly that means my ample midrift was in the line of fire as increased frontal area going through the water. More front area = more drag = more effort needed to swim. This was improved(not 100% solved, because I still glance forwards) by learning to look direct down at the tiles below me on the pool floor.  For the first time EVER I my bum got cold because it was at the surface! 

    The next hint he had was to point my toes, lock my knees and use paddle from my hips.....  If you're using energy to bend and straighten your knees, thats energy you could be using elsewhere.  


    how some of this random stuff helps


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