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Swim problems

Hi all

Am relatively new to triathlon (did the Cardiff Try a Tri, and have Henley and Caldicot in my sights) and have been training in all three disciplines and am equally as amateur at all three.

However.....swimming appears to be my downfall. I has some individual lessons and my instructor said I have "powerful arm action" (assume thats good), and a "great kick" - unfortunately I do not seem to be able to get them both into the pool at the same time. I can basically do 400 freestyle in 9 minutes using only my arms, but figure if I can involve my legs it would be a) faster, and b) better warm up for my legs for the bike.

When I use my legs I turn into some sort of human torpedo, but my arms feel too slow, and any chance of a breathing pattern goes out the window. I have always been a sprinter - it has taken a long time for my body to adjust to "distance running" (distance to me used to be anything over 400metres!), and I feel like when I use my legs I am going all anaerobic again - like sprint running. So I can not do more than 50 metres using arms and legs. I know it isnt a case of slowing the kick down, because I have been told the kick looks right.

So any advice, or suggestions for swim sets to let me get legs and arms in synch, or at least together in the same pool at the same time!? I am doing sprint tri only this year, but hope to progress to OD some day - but all the swim sets I see start with "400m FS - easy". 400m in one go is my max distance due to this arms-only nonsense! I can knock out about 800-1000m in a session, but have never gone over 400m FS in one attempt, BS I can do 800m ish.

All advice greatly received.

Thanks in advance.


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    nicknofingernicknofinger Posts: 284
    My advice to you from one non swimmer to another would be to go to your local tri club. The Cardiff tri club is great and they've really improved my swimming. Or there's the Cardiff Masters also really good, both really friendly.

    I could not swim properly about 18 months ago, and now I can do 4k and If I can do it anything is possible.
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    I would but my local club is £180 a year and I cant afford that. It incudes all swim sessions and turbo sesions etc, but as I workwhere they train I dont pay for pool access anyway so it is quite an expense.

    Ta tho.

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    nicknofingernicknofinger Posts: 284
    Is that with the Cardiff tri club?
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    No, Bath amphibians. Am I down as being Cardiff somewhere on my profile? I did wonder?!
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    durhamvamdurhamvam Posts: 246
    Hi there,

    In the absence of tri club/squad swimming perhaps you could try the six kick drill I used to get given during my total immersion training. So you start off by swimming on your side (sort of slightly exaggerated max rotation) bottom arm extended towards the wall, looking towards the floor of the pool, upper arm down by your side - hip should be out of the water. Kick six times and then do one stroke with the bottom arm keeping the head glued to the lower shoulder and doing a normal recovery with the top arm, this should rotate you so that your head is now looking at the ceiling and what was the top arm is extended towards the wall and what was your lower arm is resting on your hip. You can now breathe (hooray!) and then put your head back under the water and repeat for the whole length then swim back down easy, rest and start again. When you get the hang of this you can put in three strokes to one breath - not free style but with the full exaggerated rotation. I guess this might allow you to concentrate on one thing at a time and then gradually put them together.

    If it's all too hard then you might need to use fins to begin with to help you get the feel of a steady strong kick and the timing....

    Does that help? or even make sense???!

    Good luck,


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    nicknofingernicknofinger Posts: 284
    spender1330 wrote:

    No, Bath amphibians. Am I down as being Cardiff somewhere on my profile? I did wonder?!

    No just assumed ase you did the Cardiff Tri, good luck I know how you're feeling I've had a love/hate relationship with swimming. I love learning a new sport, but hated not beeing able to do it.

    Hope it all goes well.
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    FlavadaveFlavadave Posts: 749
    A good previous post on swimming which may help.

    http://forum.220magazine.com/tm.asp?m=11420&mpage=1&key=&#11435 (contribution courtesy of Bopomofo)

    Essentially your kick is best used to balance your stroke rather than propulsive power. Save it for the bike and swim leg!

    I found the swimsmooth DVD quite useful as well.
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    Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    "powerful arm action" "good kick".

    Oh dear. I doubt that that coach will do you much good.

    What you want to hear is "Streamlined", "good balance"

    It's all about technique and efficiency - you need to make yourself as streamlined as possible before anything else. Throwing more power at something not streamlined is a waste of energy.

    Get the Total Immersion book - make your local library get it if you don't want to shell out.

    It will give you food for thought if nothing else.

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    I have the book and to be fair when I do kick it feels great - since I satrted keeping my buoy low (if you read the book you will know what I mean!). Its just I struggle getting my arms in on the action while kicking. Someone suggested some single arm plus a float drills to try and tease the legs and arms into action together. Going to try that this pm!
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    risris Posts: 1,002
    you say you think like a sprinter, you've correctly idetified that you need to be thinking like a middle distance runner!

    smooth technique, good rhythm. stretch out / elongate the stroke as much as possible. exactly as jack says - throwing power at something not streamlined just wastes energy. front crawl/freestyle action should be more arm-focussed, as others have said the legs are there for balance and roll.

    you have a good starting point for your 400m using your arms but i think you need to slow the legs down. firstly to reduce the energy use - you are going much faster but burning yourself out, and secondly to train the legs to operate as balance and not the engine.

    i'd be trying to slow it down, catchup drills, elongated arms only sets that sort of thing. get the the technique right, don't worry about distance or how many consecutive laps you are able to do yet.

    someone here posted some great youtube vids of grant hackett, it was amazing to see how pronounced the extension of the arm was and the catch of the stroke. smooth as silk.
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    gdh250467gdh250467 Posts: 237
    Don't beat yourself up about your swim performance. I've done three sprints this year, and average around the 8 minute mark for 400m. What I make sure is that I don't completely exhaust myself trying to swim as fast as possible, cutting about 1 minute off my swim time, only to find I'm completely shagged and take 10 minutes longer on the bike and 5 minutes extra on the run because of it.

    Triathlon is three sports, and we can't all be good at all of them, although being good at one would be nice.

    I've read the Total Immersion book, and been practicing each of the drills, and it it's just beginning to come together. My initial mistake was to read all the drills, and then go and try them all in teh same session. Once I realised my mistake, I re-visited the book, read a Drill, and then went and practiced it until I was confident, and then moved onto the next one.

    If your in this for the long run, then take the time to perfect the drills and ultimately your stroke, and it may take you the rest of the year, but you'll fell the benefits for evermore. If however you're only looking to do a few sprints this year and then call it quits, don't bother, and just windmill and thrach yourself through the swim leg.

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