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Does swimming ever get any easier?

joolzdjoolzd Posts: 245
I've been at it a while now and I just can't seem to get to grips with this swim thing...seriously, does it ever get any easier or is it always like an uphill struggle (unless of course you were born in the water?). My main issues are:

1. I really dislike it as I don't seem to ever have enough oxygen in my lungs to let me go faster

2. Although my last tri time was infinitely better... I still feel like a steam train in the water and everyone whizzes past me in the next lane and I am dreading my next 800m ow (which is tomorrow)...

3. I can't seem to get out of the habit of counting every length..& I find i dull

4. I never seem to get over the 32 length barrier...at this point I always get bored and am usually fed up at my lack of ability...and so the list goes on!![&o]

So my question is how on earth do you make it interesting whilst at the same time actually improving technique, stroke, breathing and not becoming disheartened every time? Should you always get in and do a fixed amount of lengths? Are there certain exercises you can do to improve your swim outside/in the gym....????

Any help & tips gratefully received at this stage, as would love to be able to do an OD (bike/run not a problem) but my swim issue is getting the better of me! [:)]


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    risris Posts: 1,002
    i'm defintely no fish, and there are plenty of days when it feels unbalanced and uncoordinated, but i have grown to enjoy an hour in the water. if i get a settled rhythm i find my brain switches off and i can focus on stroke, laps, breathing without the rest of the day intruding.

    i nearly always go for an hour and try to do about 110-130 laps, in mixes of strokes and paces depending on how i feel. i used to do 'swim for fitness' and having a programme to work to really helped me get out of my comfort zone and improve stamina and breathing.

    i'll do things like racing the clock, fartleks, bouy/float drills, stroke combinations, catch-up drills and medleys to add variety if i'm getting bored. i find there are drills i prefer and use them as bribes to do the ones i hate. i rarely do the same sets in the water in the same order.

    i found that even swimming 3 1hr sessions a week it took time for my stamina to improve. the swim for fitness i did was run by instructors who helped correct technique and give encouragement, and i still think i could do with that sort of guidance.

    stick at it, it will come with time. if you want to go further you will need to push through the 32lap barrier though!

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    TrisurferTrisurfer Posts: 228


    I'm no expert, I train myself and this how I do it!

    open to any opinions!

    to build up to longer distances, I used to throw in some lengths of breast stoke as recovery, then slowly reducing B.S lengths until I could do 1500 front crawl.

    Intervals also work well, there's heaps of threads on this forum (from much better swimmers than me!) on different work outs.

    I keep it simple though,

    for intervals

    10 lengths against the clock, 1 min rest then again (usually just under 4 mins) 6-10 times then finish with a pryamid against the clock 10-8-6-4-2 (2 min rest between set).

    Because the individual sets are short and against the clock, I stay interested (and don't lose count!) and because I'm against the clock the work rate is high.

    I use a timex watch that stores intervals, so it easy to keep count of total lengths I keep tack week by week of any improvements.

    2 sessions per week

    1 endurance

    1 Interval

    should see your swimming improve.

    hope this helps!
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    nicknofingernicknofinger Posts: 284
    My swimming really improved when I joined a tri club and a swimming club. Now I'm loving it where as 6 months ago I had a real love/hate relationship with it.

    It does get easier and more enjoyable trust me.

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    ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    The swim is my weakest point as well although when I was 12 (40 years ago - bugger! BTW its my birthday today) I was quite good. But then again I am limited by a shoulder injury - I digress. Looking at one of your posts you are swimming with others - well definitely better than me!

    Keep this in perspective. Look at the time difference between the fastest swimmer of your sex and age group and yourself, it's probably only a couple of minutes. I have seen many instances where the fastest person in the swim is beaten overall by someone who has come about midfeld in the swim. Powerful arms and shoulders are deadweight on the bike and run.

    I found that in the OW swim I was having problems with breathing until in one race I unzipped my trisuit underneath the wetsuit and hoorah much improved in fact 3 minutes faster for the 750m.

    Now as a member of the multi-tasking enabled sex you do have - ahem - extra constrictive clothing to be worn and perhaps one of the girls can advise you better than us boys in that department.

    Have you thought about breathing every second stroke? The aim is not to get tired or into oxygen debt at the end of the swim.

    When counting laps what I do is to include it as a form of mantra with my strokes e.g lap 6 would be 6. 2, 3, 4 (breathe), that way I am reminding myself of the lap constantly. Additionally as a pyshcological trick I count 2 lengths as one i.e. there and back so instead of counting off 16 lengths I count 8 there and backs.

    You get bored after 32 lenghts - you don't say you have to drag yourself out of the pool 'cos you are knackered so clearly a boredom thing, how about a waterproof MP3 player for training?

    Technique, technique, technique. As I lift my arm out I pause ever so slightly and glide, less strokes, less effort, you will see oodles of threads here and on the rest of the interweb on technique. It works for me, I have only been doing it a short while and I seem to be more relaxed, my technique seems to have improved and I have gotten a tad faster, did 1500m in 33mins yesterday (in the pool) in my wetsuit (a trifle warm!) which for me is a big improvement, I was not huffing or puffing and could have gone on for longer but was beginning to feel like a 'boil in the bag'.

    So don't give up, it will happen and I must say that you look stunning in your wetsuit, far better than me.
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    Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    Well, you're tons better than I am!

    Swimming isn't natural.

    Nothing else is done horizontal, in a viscous medium.

    It's very difficult to have awareness of what you are really doing: You might think you in a nice position, but are you really. You might think you are lifting those elbows etc. etc.

    So swimming is something that you can really really do with some outside help. Just having someone, who knows what they are doing, watching you and telling you whats wrong will pay dividends.

    Anyway, I've booked myself in for a session at swimtherapy, for 9th June.

    1) They are used to tri coaching

    2) You get to swim in an "endless pool"

    3) You are videoed, from underneath as well as above, so you get to see what you are doing

    The video bit is key. I've been through the TI books and video.. so I understand the theory, a bit. But the practice.. can't tell if I am doing it quite right. So, really looking forward to the video (which you get to keep, together with coaches commentary).

    It's a bit of a trek down to Leicester... but really looking forward to it. And I expect to write up a review afterwards.

    I have problems with breathing... it's just really confidence, timing and putting it together now.. Doing all the things like breathing out hard well before et. etc.

    Off for a swim now!
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    MikeyBMikeyB Posts: 135
    Last year I got the Swim Smooth DVD and found that really helped my swimming. Just plodding up and down may give you some fitness benefit but will not improve your technique. For that you need coaching or, if like me you can't fit in getting to a club, something like Swim Smooth to help you coach yourself.

    It also means doing different drills to isolate techniques and sets of lengths at different speeds which is much less boring than slogging up and down for hours. It has changed the swim from being something I dreaded into the part I enjoy most.


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    brizzichickbrizzichick Posts: 166
    being ozzie means that everyone thinks you swim like a fish....and that's not true! i don't know where you live Joolz but i went to swimfortri on friday and found it fab! (they're based in London - not cheap but well worth it) i went as i want to get faster and improve my technique...

    it's in an endless pool and you are videoed (which is slightly freaky but well worth it). They show you a vid of dan bullock who makes it look sooo effortless..the tips and drills you are given are great and I'm planning to try them out this week...i think this will help with the boredom you're experiencing...it's a bit like running...concentrating on something helps the time go faster (well it does me for me anyway)


    like zacnici i also count every second length...makes it go quicker....also trying to beat the clock is another thing that works for me....
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    joolzdjoolzd Posts: 245
    Hey all...thanks for some great advice, I shall certainly take advantage of the assistance you've all given. I went to swimfortri Brizzi and I did find it really useful...particularly when I discovered my legs almost on the bottom of the pool and arms trying to touch the sides!! Jack, I look forward to hearing how you get on when you go get your swim analysed!!

    I'm going to buy that DVD too Mikey, thanks.....and Zacnici, I'm never tired when I've done the lengths just fed up I'm not faster...get very easily disheartened...I should really try to find someone to train with to push me a little bit more as I'm not one for working out of my comfort zone..I have been to the tri group at my gym, but whimped out with lack of confidence - they were all much faster than me (actually it's training at 8h30pm that puts me off)! The mp3 thing is something I've thought of but never sure what to get as would hate to spend £70+and discover it doesn't work after one outting..so if you have any to recommend I would be grateful!

    Still, yesterday I did manage 800m ow and in 18mins something (was aiming for 16mins but panicked as ever!) Oh..... and thanks for the wetsuit compliment Zancnici...sod high fashion I say!![:D][:D]

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    ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    Hang on you did 800m in 18 mins and you are worried! That's about what I am am doing although I am hoping to improve by a minute or so at the Sth Cerney Tri.

    Re MP3 player, did a quick trawl - found this on Amazon


    Re compliment - no problemo - come to think of it where else can a group of people parade about wearing rubber without coming under the spotlight of the Sunday Sport!
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    Nice find Zacnici!!!

    The ladies of the pool might be spared my perving if I can listen to music...either that or ill stop swimming and listen to music whilst perving...

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    gavinrigg06gavinrigg06 Posts: 176
    Happy Birthday Zacnici !!
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    PC_67PC_67 Posts: 196
    Does swimming get any easier? Yes and no, in my experience.

    I can now do 3k in a session so fitness / stamina improves and can improve reasonably quickly if you do the right type of training.

    Technique can improve and speed can improve.

    However, in my personal experience and what is currently causing me grief, is that while I can swim for ages I can't maintain my good stroke and my length times.

    take my 60m Lido times:

    My sprint time is 58 seconds, equivalent to about 24 secs in a 25m pool.

    My "moderate" time is 65 seconds (so well south of 30 mins for 1500m) which I feel is sustainable.

    However, when I time my lengths in the middle of a session I'm 75 seconds which is annoyingly slow for me.

    I feel that after 5-600m my catch and pull just isn't propelling me. I'm adding 10 strokes-per-length to what I started out doing. I'm at a loss to explain whether my technique has just gone to pot or whether I just haven't got the strength anymore, implying I still have fitness improvement to work on.

    Any suggestions? Anything under 70 seconds per lap average would be my desired result.
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    BmanBman Posts: 442
    PC_67, Im no expert but I'd reckon we have similar issues. Ive been told the way to train is the way you race, so the only way to get used to that feeling of maintaining pace after a fast start is to train for it, so lengths of sprints immediately followed by lengths of normal swimming. So I guess you are training your ability to recover and maintain speed after the inital start, which is always a bit more hectic and faster. The more you do it, the more conditioned you become to maintaining pace.
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    ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    Gavin - thanks for the 'Happy Birthday'

    Re swim, I am concentrating heavily on technique; I do a little glide before powering through with the stroke and I am now doing 1500m - 2000m (in my wet suit), not getting out of puff and pulling in an average of 1000m in 22mins. Just a few weeks back I was getting into all sorts of problems and having to breathe every second stroke etc and now do every 4 no problems. Still slow compared to the pack but I am improving, I am less tired and that will mean my bike will be better which means that my run, which is my best discipline, will be better.
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    PC_67PC_67 Posts: 196
    Thanks BMan!
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    risris Posts: 1,002
    Bman wrote:

    PC_67, Im no expert but I'd reckon we have similar issues. Ive been told the way to train is the way you race, so the only way to get used to that feeling of maintaining pace after a fast start is to train for it, so lengths of sprints immediately followed by lengths of normal swimming. So I guess you are training your ability to recover and maintain speed after the inital start, which is always a bit more hectic and faster. The more you do it, the more conditioned you become to maintaining pace.

    i think you are completely right, i can swim a couple of miles in an hour session without too much pain and grief but conversely i struggle improve my 1500 swim time to much below 30mins. it seems like i have a default speed that i can't shake myself out of. i know the only way to break it is to do more intense speed sets but then i feel like i'm short changing my sessions.

    so much of it is in the head, making yourself do things you don't want and breaking old habits!
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    Cheryl6162Cheryl6162 Posts: 356
    It does get easier! A couple of months ago I was a strick, very slow breast stroker because I just couldnt get to grips with breathing and putting my face under water- it just made me panic. Trying to front crawl 'head up' style was very tiring and I strugged to do two lengths. I decided that I had to sort this out if I wanted to do triathlon so I asked my son, who was a county level swimmer a few years back to give me some tips. I practised what he told me, getting into the pool three times a week and sticking with it doggedly.

    I can now swim 1900m in 37 minutes in continuous front crawl (so a similar time to you). I am not fast at all at shorter distances but I can maintain the same speed for a longer period of time. I still find that if I don't get into the pool for a week or so I regress quite considerably and it takes me quite a lot of lengths before I relax and start to feel the flow a little better so I would recommend sticking with it. For me, I find that once I have crawled through the 750m mark its all easy from there as long as I don't try to analyse what I'm doing as it all goes sh*t faced at that point!

    I went from absolutely hating swimming two months ago to loving it now!
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