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Ridiculously bad swim training

All I can say is slow it down, really hard to do as somebody new to swimming but if you can just reign it in a bit it becomes much easier. If only I could take my own advice I could maybe start doing some decent swim training!!!


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    NKOTBNKOTB Posts: 20
    I'm undertaking my first triathlon in June. It's a sprint but has just a 500m swim. My running is pretty good, my cycling isn't too bad but, yep, you guessed it, my swim is appauling.

    I've used this and other forums for improved technique. I'm too poor for coaching.

    Problem: after just 100m front crawl my upper arms tire and my breath becomes short. I switch from bilateral to every other stroke but with little improvement. I don't seem to be geting any better. I've even cut back on other training to focus on this.

    I didn't mind at first, having not done this stroke for ten years, but my improvement has been minimal. Any help much appreciated.

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    krazycalkrazycal Posts: 45
    Hi NKOTB

    I've had the same proble (and to a large extent still do!) But it's is definately worth getting a couple private swim sessions. If not then what i can advise is trying to push your arms quite far forward and keeping a high elbow coming back. Maybe look down as this helps keep your legs up. Try to keep your stroke rate down and rather focus on getting the most out of each stroke. But a swim coach would definately tell you were you are going wrong. Dont worry about the swim too much as it means very little overall.

    Hope this helps

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    TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    Hi mate, i agree with the others, uve gotta slow your stoke down, and concentrate on technique. Try doing 10 mins of drills at the start of each session, there are loads on the internet.

    also, as the others have said the swim makes so little difference overall, especially in a 500 sprint, even the best swimmers take it fairly leisurely as 30secs gained in the swim going hard, will loose you many minutes on the bike and run.

    what you want to be aiming for is as long a stoke as possible, as this is most efficient.

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    NKOTBNKOTB Posts: 20
    Cheers, I'll try slowing it down and looking at some drills, although the ones I've seen so far have a warm up that would tire me out!

    I am tempted to get a couple of coaching sessions as well.
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    BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    I put a list together of some common 'beginner' mistakes here:


    I also guffed on about stroke improvement here:


    Not saying I'm a total authority on swimming... I've just got some advice to offer and don't have time to re-type it all [:D]

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    hbhb Posts: 22

    I have the same problem so i decided to do my first tri with a short swim of only 200 metres and i have kept with it and i am getting a little better. reading what everyone else has written it seems to all make sense.

    ill let you know come sunday night when i have finished my first event
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    legalbeaglelegalbeagle Posts: 208
    Hi there,

    hope all the other advice has helped - one other thing you could try is to use a pull buoy. It will help you to concentrate on your technique and also it stops you kicking like crazy and getting out of breath so fast. Don't get too reliant on it though - try and do say two lenghths with it then two without so you can practice what you learn.

    Keep at it - I never used to be able to swim at all and could only manage about two lengths of front crawl not that long ago.

    Relax and smile at the water!! (so my coach tells me all the time - apparently it helps!)
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    andyfb78andyfb78 Posts: 7
    I had a similar problem,

    Eventually found a local tri club and took the plunge, hoping that they wouldn't laugh me out of the pool....

    quite the opposite, Mark Pharaoh the coach, a wonderfully knowlegdlbe, and patient bloke.....gave the fast boys some work to do and me (and others who were errr learning/improving) some pointers and watched my drills....

    I can't judge your level, but I now am of the opinion go and ask at training sessions for swim clubs, do adult sessions at the local pool etc..... it was scary initially, but it was def the right decision...... my run is now my weakest leg......... doh!

    BTW where are you based?


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    treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    I cannot give you any advice - just support! I'm also a crap swimmer and to be honest I undertook an Ironman in June of last year and by Christmas I could not string more than 10 lengths together. I then took the bull by the horns, got a little coaching, then realised that the swim leg is not scored on style and appearance, that once I got out of the water MY race began, and most importantly the hours of training to improve my swim by 5 minutes would be better off spent cycling or running. Anyway I decided to do 1 swim session per week of 100 - 160 lengths nonstop and non-timed lengths. It worked in that once I got over the fears of the swim I completed it in 1.30. So stick at it!
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    jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    You are highly unlikely to win a triathlon by being first out of the water,the swim is only a small percentage of the total time,relax when you are in the pool training and take your time,so that you feel comfortable doing the 500m,not fast but you can do it without making a trial or tribulation about it.If you exit the pool feeling relaxed the rest of the time can be spent concentrating on the parts of the race you are better at.Exit the water feeling frustrated and angry and the race could be a disaster.90 secs longer in the swim and starting the cycle relaxed could give you a 120 sec faster cycle.Exit with a 10sec faster time but feel distracted and angry could add an extra 120secs to you time.The more you train the more you realise that triathlon is about pace not speed.(at least thats what I tell myself when the results get published).Best of luck.
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    SwimfanSwimfan Posts: 19
    Last year I could “swim” 25meters, and then stop to return all the water I had breathed in and swallowed. I use total immersion’s video to drill, drill, drill, drill, drill. I am still not a great swimmer, but I love swimming now, irrespective of the time I’m doing it in. A focus on technique will reap the greatest rewards.

    I’m getting my stroke analysed this week as I’d like some evidence that I am going in the right direction.

    Many people treat the swim as something they have to get through to get to the cycle and run, the swim is the bit I am looking forward to the most.
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    legalbeaglelegalbeagle Posts: 208
    I'm right with you on this one swimfan - I love the swim and it's not that long ago that I couldn't even do one length. These days 2km is great - never very fast but so much fun!!

    Shame I can't get to feel the same about the run - I keep trying but I hate it and spend every race with it looming up at the end! Anyone got any suggestions on how to train my brain to say - "running ..yep... love that!"
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    rj1265rj1265 Posts: 70
    Hi NKOTB - my experience

    I started swimming again 18 months ago after the midlife crisis @38 -- 'lets take up triathlon' and 'not buy a sports car' ( 3 bikes instead [:D] ... for the regulars none are red but all are fast).

    Swimming again after best part of 20 years was very daunting... nb overweight gorilla in speedos at the local pool, I was very self-conscious. I could manage 25m freestyle with being totally shattered, but I could swim breast stroke fairly well so I persevered - a little freestyle & lots of breast stroke. I was able to get through 3 tris (one 400m & two open-water 750m) , starting off with 25-50m freestyle then the rest breatstroke.

    Echoing andyfb78.....

    The local Tri club train at the pool I use and I have always thought I would hinder their training sessions since they seemed far better swimmers than me .... This year I took the plunge and introduced myself..... wow what a friendly bunch, yes they are better swimmers than me, but I haven't swam breast stroke since joining the training sessions. I don't do every length they do but I am increasing my distance and the coach is improving (reconstructing) my stroke every session, I still cannot bilateral breathe but I am confident I can swim 750m freestyle without wanting to pass out at the end.

    Good Luck and remember we do this for enjoyment [:D]

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    MikeyBMikeyB Posts: 135
    I have been using the Swim Smooth DVD to improve my swimming technique and have found it very helpful.

    I think the key with swimming is that for most of us it is technique you need to improve and simply trying to swim up and down faster or further will not improve your technique at all. So somthing like Swim Smooth, Total Immersion, or coaching if you can afford is the way to go.


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    tony btony b Posts: 57
    Leagle beagle, try to find somewhere pleasant and/or scenic to run, even if occasionally. I am lucky enough to run in Epping Forest and i'm sure that helped me to start enjoying running
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    epacseepacse Posts: 92
    I'm also new to this, and at the mo pretty laid up with a knee injury, alhtough, i'm aloud to swim!

    I read on here yesterday about some pyramid drills and so thought i;d give them a go.... NEVER have i taken on so much water!! Any more i;d have sank!!

    They went along these lines....

    200m Warm up, 20sec rest, 2 x 200 with 20 sec rest each, a 300m and 30 sec rest and then back down....OMG.... hard wasn't in it!!

    My tiny bit of input to you is to relaxy,enjoy, take the advice off here that know, try get a coach, i have one, priceless, i'd marry her if i wasn't already, and then just gradually progress!!

    8 weeks ago i could 'save my own life' and last week i swam my first mile!!

    Not the fastest, don't think ever will be at any of the diciplines,not at this age, with a body thats slowly crumblin, although only 38, and yet, i now enjoy it and look as if i know what i'm doing!! [:D]

    Seriously, if it's your first year, then grow the training, and next year will be better again!!


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    dannymackdannymack Posts: 58
    Hello NKOTB.

    I am in decent shape (sub3h marathon) and had the same problem you mention (oxygen debt after four lengths) when I learned to swim about three months ago. For me, it was all about breathing.

    I'm doing the UK 70.3 next month and realised I needed to learn to swim sharpish. Luckily for me, my wife (fearful for my well being) bought me some lessons at sft. The lessons were great for giving me the sort of advice re: lengthening stroke, getting good body position etc that been mentioned by others on this forum. It was also useful for me to see how bad I really was on their underwater cameras!

    However, the main breakthough I had - and the thing I think might help you too - came from their teaching me to exhale fully into the water. I wasn't doing this (you may be the same) and it resulted in my taking a quick and shallow breath out and then in when I took my head out of the water. I therefore only got e.g. half a lung full of "new" air (and therefore less oxygen) per breath. After a few lengths of this I was getting very heavy arms and was out of breath. So, my cure was to exhale as much of my breath as I could underwater then turn, breath in, head back into the water and exhale again. To a swimmer this is probably so obvious it isn't even worth mentioning. To me, it was a fantastic revelation.

    After getting the hang of this I have built up my distance and have gone from having to stop after 4 lengths in Feb 08 to completing an olympic distance tri yesterday at Dorney. Yes, I exited the swim in 35 minutes - so not exactly fish-like - but it was my first time so I took it really easy and even found it enjoyable (something I never thought would be the case a few months ago).

    Anyway, hope this helps and good luck for your event next month.
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    TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    On the breathing front, i actually keep my mouth open at all times, and as pretty much as wide as possible!

    When underwater i actively breath out but in a very relaxed way, then as i turn my face at the point my mouth is cleared i let the rebound affect allow my lungs to fill. I found the change from actively breathing in to allowing it to occur automatically made me far more relaxed, which allowed me to concentrate on my stroke.
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