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big swimming problems!

hi folks,
iv recently entered my 1st triathlon in liverpool in june and run and bike trainings going ok but my swim
leaves me knackered and having to stop after 2 lenghts due to my crap technique!
Will my breathing and stroke technique improve through regular practice alone or will i need to
join a club for lessons? Iv entered the olympic distance but right now a mile swim in the albert dock
seems impossible!
any tips would be appreciated


  • get some lessons, whether this be in coached tri club session, one-on-one or masters. at the very least start doing swim drills. look at www.swimsmooth.com or total immersion for starters. ploughing up and down a pool with bad bad technique will just get you better at swimming lengths with bad technique. good luck.
  • Lessons would definitely help but even without you will get much better with practice. I started training for a sprint tri last feb and at first struggled to breathe at all underwater and had to do a length front crawl then a length breaststroke, and after about 30 lengths (of a 25m pool) i was exhausted and had to give up. 400m took me at least 15 mins to swim.

    By the end of may I was swimming 400m in just under 8 minutes and 1500 in about 35 minutes. I didnt have any lessons but just kept at it even though at first it felt quite demoralising.
    My advice would be to set yourself incremental challenging but realistic targets. Use the info in tri magazines and on the web to focus on one part of your technique at a time. Read some advice try it and work on it, a small change can make a huge difference. When you think you've prefected that bit, look up technique tips and try and work on something else.
  • hopefully you've moved on since your initial post but in case (and for others). I had exactly the same problem. 2 lengths was my limit.
    Slow the swim down as much as you can so that you can concentrate on technique (body position especially). You'll find that you will be able to go further because you're expending less energy. Speed is something you can work on later once you've found a stroke and breathing rythym that suits you
  • stevsterstevster Posts: 73
    Check out the front crawl technique on many websites, then try concentrating on one aspect of the technique each time you go training.
    You may also want to use a pull boy to help to concentrate on your arms.

    Ive always been a pretty good swimmer but by finding different tips from the web, such as point of entering arm into water, making sure I follow the stroke through to the thigh I have managed to increase my 400 m from about 7 mins to 5.50.

    You may also find swim programs help rather than just doing a swim as this helps to strengthen and improve stroke but not leaving you out of breath quite as much.
  • Nothing is impossible I learnt to swim in 2003 from scratch and completed a sprint distance. Since then I have also completed an Ironman.

    Find a dedicated swim coach, ideally a triathlon based one as swimming in a wetsuit is different to swimming in pool.

    Train as much as you can in open water. One thing that will really help is the fact you are in a wetsuit as you are more buoyant and it gives you that added confidence.

    There are loads of people out there just like you and they all get through there first triathlon to then get addicted and do many more.

    Good Luck!

    Train Hard, Race Hard
    http://www.triathlon trev.com
  • I'm in a similar situation as redgrifter was, only I can't even get 2 lengths. As of a couple of weeks ago I hadn't done any swimming for about 10 years and that was only breast stroke. I was getting prety demoralised in my local swimming pool so I decided to book a private lesson in a quiet private gym. After about 20 mins he had me swimming front crawl for about half a length and I thought I'd cracked it. I went back to my local public swimming pool today , full of confidence, but I could only do half a length if that before it all went to rat poo. I even swallowed a bit of water and coughed my guts up. I persisted but to be honest I felt as though I was being watched and my confidence was at rock bottom again. I've just joined a local fitness centre in the hope it will be quieter during the day as I work funny shifts and can go when it's quieter. I suppose I just want some encouragement to do this.
  • i'm just going through the same process and the best thing i did was buy the total immersion book

    the first 7 chapters drag on but make the point about the philosophy of it all

    but then you get onto the drills and as previous posters have said.. it's about practising the technique rather than just hammering up and down. at least in the book the drills are small and manageable

    and frankly, fcuk what anyone else in the pool thinks
  • I'm actually starting to not give a shiite what people think tbh. I'm determined to do this and I won't let anything stop me. Saying that a fat lady doing a water aerobics class told me to sod off for swimming near her today, and not wanting to draw more attention to my rubbish swimming I went in the gym and waited for the class to end lol. I was thinking of getting that book but wasn't sure how easy to follow it would be, hopefully it has lots of pictures.
  • Was in the same situation at the beginning of the year. Went to the local pool and managed a couple of laps only.

    I joined the local swim club, that has an excellent coach. The first thing he said when I rang up was that it would take 12 months before a would start to swim probably, at first I thought this was bunkum but 7 months later is was dead on. He took me right back to basics, and focussing on technique, technique, technique - skulling / body position / high elbows etc.

    I've done a couple of sprints, but have never really gone "long" prefering to get the technique right first. Will be amending my training specifically for distance (Olympic plus) in the new year.

    Would certainly recommend finding a local swim / tri club to help with technique, in addition though the total immersion videos on youtube are excellent. You'll get some funny looks while watching it in the office, but who cares you're a triathlete in training.
  • I agree the TI stuff on youtube is helping, so much so that I have ordered the DVD. I have have been using the advice of swimming tall and slowing down and this has got me going a little better. I can now do 2 lengths before feeling that I need to rest but without swallowing water lol. Gonna do a dedicated swim session instead of the usual run then swim and see if I can progress further.
  • I have a question to add to this thread - I am a pathetic swimmer; always have been, and have done 5 sprints and an Olympic basically using breastroke, (with a little bit of cawl but don't have the confidence / stamina to stick with crawl during an event). I am a fairly brisk runner and love to whole Tri vibe, but ant to get a bit more stuck in and have a punt at a 70.3 soon.

    Anyway, I go to the pool for about an hour every Sunday morning with permission from the boss, and then potter home for child minding duties. I am using that hour to swim up to 1900m, continuous. I have set myself the objective of swimming 3 or 4 lengths of crawl in every 10, with the aim of building this up to (hopefully) crawl for the whole distance by the end of the winter.

    So I suppose my questionis this: would I be better swimming, say, 15 x ten length blocks, trying to crawl for the whole 250 metres with a rest? (This would be fine for the first set, but I would be broken biscuits by set three I reckon). Or sticking with my current cowardly approach that allows me to 'hide' in breast-stroke while still getting the distance in? The problem is that often the pool can be quite crowded on a Sunday mornning, believe it or not, so there is a sense that I just should use the time that I have to swim contiunuously for as long as possible, as that is going to build up my stamina. It all just seems a bit unfocussed, although I am definitely improving.

    I had a session with a Tri coach earlier in the summer who was great and helped with technique, but also said that I should be swimming 3 times a week. Work / commute and family commitmenst make that pretty challenging.

    Any suggestions anyone?
  • Swimming is my strongest Event
    I have been swimming since 3 years old and competed in club and county level gala's for 100 fly from 5- 13 years old (family tragedy stopped me).

    However it amazes me the precision and effort people put into their run and bike training but just do their best to survive in the pool/lake.

    Appraoch Swim it the same way

    Warm Up, main set, cool down
    Endurance session
    Anaerobic session
    Drills session.

    you can build up to the distance's you should already have aerobic endurance from your bike and your run you just need to convert to swimming as well. I know for a lot it is the fear of the water.

    As well as doing Bike - Run brick sessions do swim - cycle ones every now and then.
    I find it's more getting my breathing under control as i come out the water to the bike as i am going from long slow breaths to normal breathing again.

    my run is weak i will cut one bike session over winter for a run, but i never cut swimming sessions as i think the the advantages you get in lung capacity from swimming is awesome.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Workouts-Binder ... 1931382204

    This book is awesome and it's waterproof your perfect poolside companion.
  • Thanks blaze. I will look into it. I think that your experience as a swimmer at a young age must have given you an excellent base from which to start.

    To be honest I have never put a great deal of rigour into my running or cycling either - simply increasing frequency or distance. Working in the West End, and having a three hour commute make swimming more difficult to do than, say a run round Hyde Park or a cycling session in the gym. But I will get that book from amazon and am going to use the winter to really focus on my swimming and break down my fears and start to develop my skills there so that it is not just something to get through in an event.
  • Yeah it did come back very quickly
    you don't lose the memory of 14 hours + a week in the pool.
    i hope i didn't sound harsh as i didn't mean too. swimming is about the only thing i know really well. cycling is good just through the tie i spend comuting. my run is atrocious and like your swim i survive.

    I work in the city too birdyman i know what you mean.
    I just don't have the difficulties of a family. Are there any pools near your work. as i do 2 or 3 of my swims in the city each week i picked a gym i can use at work and at home Virgin.

    go for it mate seriously work in sets start with your warmup 200-300m start on crawl. one thing that works is 1 length Breast 1 lenght crawl for warm up then do some skills. one arms catchups kicks pull buoy.
    u find it easier with the pull buoy because it encourages good form in the water as well.

    use it to get your stroke right long steady slow. then do 5 x 25 meter sprints with an RI of 25secs then go to 8 next week. then back to 5 x 50 then 8 then repeat but drop the RI to 20. you'll find it works.

    But always know what you are doing before you get in the pool. time iseems to always be the killer.

    good luck
  • AvoneerAvoneer Posts: 174

    Pyramids also worked for me when learning to do multiple crawl lengths.

    4 lengths breast stroke to warm up.

    2 crawl

    4 crawl

    6 crawl

    4 crawl

    2 crawl

    4 lengths breast stroke to cool down.

    I kept going up and then down in multiples of 2's until I got a lot better.

  • Thanks guys - I really appreciate the suggestions. I just need to get a bit more organised and structured.

    I'll let you know how I get on.


  • AvoneerAvoneer Posts: 174
    Just remember it takes time and build up slowly.

    I used to swim for the school 20 years ago and haven't swam since.

    Got back into swimming about 10 months ago and couldn't do a length crawl.

    Now got my mile down to 32 minutes and my 400 metres down to 6 1/2 minutes.

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