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Swimming Tips Please.........

Hi fellow triers

I have been swimming now for a few months and seem to have hit a bit of a wall. I can swim the 400m distance (my first target) in about 7:45 but get tired towards the end....firstly, this is no good, as i think i would like to do an Olympic distance at the end of the season, and getting tired at 400m just won't do. Secondly, i want to swim the 400m faster anyway.

So i come cap in hand again, eager to hear your words of wisdom. What tips can you offer? If there were just one, what would it be? How can i get this time down to 7 mins?

Hope to hear from you!


  • MGMG Posts: 470
    Firstly I would suggest getting someone (ie a coach) to look at your technique, if thats not gonna happen then get a stop watch and do some HARD intervals, 50m to start with so 15x50m with 15 sec rest, these sets should be done absolutely FLAT OUT. Then when those get easier 10x100m with 15-20sec rest.

    Hard intervals will bring your times down but sorting your technique out (not saying its crap, but everyone has flaws[;)]) first would be the best thing to do.

    You've probably plateau-ed so you need to push yourself to the next level, this is always a bit more difficult with swimming (especialy on your own) and requires discipline.

    I went to swim4tri a couple of years ago and although I didnt immediatly get quicker, after laying the basics of better technique (and alot of perseverance!!) I've gone from a 28min 1500m to a 23min 46sec PB.

    Good luck.

  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Hi Gary,

    Let's hear some basics about how you swim (this is not an exhaustive or definitive list of questions, just some examples):

    Typically, how many strokes do you take in 25m?

    Which way do you breathe?

    Do you do any drills? Are there any that you are good at?

    Which parts of the stroke are you conscious of working hard at?

    Have you tried to self-analyse and try to feel where the water is dragging?

    'Tell me how to go quicker' is a bit of a broad question, so if you can think a bit more about it the we can probably turn this into a handy thread.
  • garyrobertsgaryroberts Posts: 869
    Typically, how many strokes do you take in 25m?

    Which way do you breathe?

    Do you do any drills? Are there any that you are good at?

    Which parts of the stroke are you conscious of working hard at?

    Have you tried to self-analyse and try to feel where the water is dragging?

    I swim in a 20m pool. I take about 16 strokes a length. I can breath either way, uni or bi and find that easy, i do find that uni keeps my form better but bi enables more relaxed swimming. To be honest i did do drills, catchup and one arm swimming, sculling but i haven't for a while...[:'(]

    I find that if i swim with my head too low in the water (which TI suggests) i tend to be at greater risk of taking in water! So i swim with back of head out of water. Keeping legs high is my focus at present. I also guess that as i tire my body falls lower in the water and that slows me.

    But in conclusion (for now) i think my pace is fairly even throughout the 400m, so i don't know if tiring is the issue here, it may be just very bad form.....

    what do you think?
  • FlavadaveFlavadave Posts: 749
    I'm in the same situation gary... 400m coming in about 8mins. At the moment I can do about 16 strokes on a 25m pool best efforts, average around 18-20 when I increase the distance. Staying with it though and still concentrating on form above anything else. Reckon if I've got the form down pat, then if I do panic in the melee then I've got this to fall back on.

    Think I'm gonna start working on my stroke speed now whilst trying to maintain the same stroke count (or lower). Also I'll be paying another visit to a coach soon too just to make sure that I'm still doing what I should be form-wise.

    Been getting confused recently with what I should be doing with my hips. When I rotate my shoulders, should my hips be going with them or staying steady? Bi-lateral breathing is still a struggle...tend to take a big gulp on my weaker side, but guess that's keeping me hydrated right? Plasters do get stuck in my throat though.
  • julesojuleso Posts: 279
    Flavadave, your hips should also be rolling, ideally. Like you're on a spit.
  • BmanBman Posts: 442
    I dunno if it applies to you, but the one thing our coach noticed when we started was that on the hand entering the water, most of us were pushing our hands forward down the middle line, so he made us focus on hand entry at shoulder width and keeping it that wide for the glide. We also did loads of kicking drills on front/side/angled with one arm out front and I seemed to notice even a slight kick helps rotate from the hips as you are swimming and makes the whole effort more efficient. Also told to keep head looking straight down and hold it steady. So rotate the body, keeping the head still, so when you need to breathe, you body is angled and ready for the head to turn and breath. Now I just need to put that all into practice myself!
  • EdstgEdstg Posts: 83

    i think often these sort of problems are mental. If you think you are going to get tired at 400m then you probably will. Apart from doing drills which will get you faster, try setting your goal at 600m. I bet you will fly through 400 with no problems.

  • garyrobertsgaryroberts Posts: 869
    ok chaps.....thanks for the tips so far (hope there's lots more to come)!

    Here's a summery so far....i think we should expand on each point a little, for example - stroke length, i read on another thread about someone who watched a tri on the TV and noted that the athletes were 'thrashing' in the water, i guess their stroke length is not so good!......lets debate these points......


    1. INTERVALS. Use them to work on your speed. Usual interval type training, shorten recovery between swim and extend swim distance.

    2. STROKES PER LENGTH (stroke efficiency). Work on getting the stroke count per length down.

    3. HAND ENTRY. Keep it wide (shoulder width).

    4. THE MENTAL ASPECTS. How much can it get you through......

    lets keep building on these tips as well as adding more as we go......thanks for now, i'll be in the pool tomorrow and will be working on strokes per length/hand entry. May also do some intervals....
  • this thread's brill

    about three years ago, before my first tri, i used to struggle to do 50m crawl!!! a friend sort of gave me a fewpointers on mystroke but mainly i just picked up tips from things like this!! now, my stroke is still rubbish. BUT my fitness has imprved somewhat and i can now swim for quite a while before i get tired.

    im goingto be reading this thread with interest and see if i can improve my stroke. i actually tried the width thing with the arms sort of by accident this morning and it did appear to work. question though - is this used as just a drill or as constant technique?!!?

  • First timerFirst timer Posts: 139
    Hi all , well you cpould look at this another way. I started last year with a 400m time of 9.45 and after some minimal coaching on technique am now at 7.54 so it's going the right way.

    Anyhow one thing my coach and several others have said too me is why try and improve that time so much more that when you leave the water your too exhausted to ride well.Dont forgst the swim is just a small part of the race,you need to come out still feeling good.I make up plenty of ground on the bike on those that left the water before me so i am now more than happy with my 7.54.

    Good luck..
  • BmanBman Posts: 442
    Godluvs..from constant reminders to keep my hand entry wider, I'd say its a constant thing, but I guess if you concentrate on it during drills, it will at least become easier to incorporate into your stroke and find a balance where you are comfortable.

    Another drill we do is the old waterpolo swim with head out and steady (no head movement). its hurts!
  • lappieszalappiesza Posts: 36
    Well I can say that it will really be worth it to see someone about technique. It makes an amazing difference. I always thought just get in and do it until I went to SwimFor Tri and a Robin Brew course. They look at various aspects and the result is impressive. Sometimes it is something small and silly but the difference is awesome.

    I would say try it!
  • FlavadaveFlavadave Posts: 749
    I've just signed up for an 8 week technique course with Swimfortri as it happens, doesn't start till end of April though. Also doing an open water session at Upminster in May.

    25min 1500m here I come... yeah right.
  • julesojuleso Posts: 279
    I too have been to SwimForTri - absolutely amazing. There's nothing like sitting on the sofa in the evening, cringeing at your swimming technique (at the start of the lesson) and seeing how much you've improved by the time an hour has passed. Really, really recommend it.
  • Hi Gary,

    I think seeing a coach is the way forward. I also managed to get through 400m on fitness alone last year. I then had a couple of lessons with Rose Jones at Club La Santa at the end of last year and it was worth 10 times the cost. My timing was way out and my body position all over the place. The catch up drill has really helped me get my timing sorted and in the space of an hour my fear of the swim had gone and I was enjoying fc. I'm not much faster than I was, I've been told that will come with time, though I now get out after 400m without feeling shattered and I've (just) managed to swim 45mins continuously on fc for the first time ever - not sure how far I went, was concentrating to much on keeping going. My swim sessions are now incorporating hard intervals to start speeding me up.

    I've booked in for a couple of lessons to try and sort out my body position when breathing as I seem to sink / slow down when breathing, particularly when fatigued.

  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    I thought I would add my own thoughts to this thread.

    I am by no means a decent swimmer, or at least I wasn't. I would typically be doing 400m in 7:30ish in a competition but would come out feeling crappy. Then I seemed to hit an epiphany about 6 months ago, I was suddenly gliding along at such an easy pace it felt weird. At his pace I can comfortable cover the 400 in about 6:15, with real effort I reckon I can go 5:45ish. I can swim this pace comfortably and so far I am recording about 25 mins for a 1500 in the pool.

    Sorry for all the waffle, but the epiphany seemed to stem from a combination of balance and a good 2-beat kick that rotates me. I now feel like I am gliding along, with minimal effort.

    The way I did this was a combination of the following 2 drills.

    1. swimming with your ankles crossed, if your legs are sinking then you have been using your legs for balance, if your balance is correct they shouldn't sink much, if they sink then try pushing on your chest more, until you feel your balance correcting.

    2. swimming with a pull-buoy BUT kicking and rotating, but only a 2 beat kick, that is well timed. By using the pull-buoy you lose the need to kick, so you can put a kick in there without having to. right leg should kick when you right arm pulls, so causing that side to rise, so you rotate on to your left side.

    This helped me to changed from the way I was rotating before which was via the pull and the upper-body, to using the kick to rotate my whole body.

    I finally feel efficient for the 1st time!
  • hi g-man,

    try going a little slower and longer with your stroke, the smoother the better, with little or no splashing with hands or feet and concentrate on every one, making it count until it comes natural,

    all the best
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Tommi...I never understood what a 2 beat kick meant...so to be clear its the same leg as arm then?
  • nivaghnivagh Posts: 595

    Tommi - swimming with your ankles crossed - presumably you mean not kicking your legs while doing this?

    Therein lies by biggest swimming challenge - my legs sink - I am physically incapable of floating even with my lungs as full as I can get them! I suspect years of track running has built them too heavy to float! I really struggle as a consequence with arm only drills when my speed drops.
  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    Britspin - a two beat kick should be timed so that the opposite leg is kicking when the hand enters the water. However I also start my pull at this point, so I found it easier to time my kick with the start of the pull on that same side.

    a good 'whip like' kick should cause that side of the body to rise in the water, so it makes sense that when that side kicks you rotate onto the other side of the body.

    The video below is a few good examples of a 2 beat kick, there kick is timed with the opposite arm entering, but this person tends to pull earlier than I do, so they start the catch part then kick as they are in the pull phase.

    Nivagh, yes ankles crossed no kicking!

    I too have big heavy legs as I am/was a track runner, my inseam is over 90cm and I'm only just over 6 foot tall (sorry for the metric/imperial mix), most 6foot guys I know dont have an inseam anywhere as long as mine. My legs are long and dense, it has taken years of balance drills to get mine right, you will get there in the end, this drill just highlights where your work is needed!
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    I feel supremely unqualified to offer any tips.. however...

    I went to the my first Tri Club swim training session yesterday.. and that is the biggest tip of all: go somewhere where there are lots of people, all trying to improve, together with a load of coaches, who know what they are doing, all trying to make them improve.

    My head is reeling with all the advice - all targeted at my specific issues - I.e. what I am doing wrong. Can't wait for tomorrow morning and the next swim to go over things.

    So, my tip: get to a tri club swim coaching session!
  • garyrobertsgaryroberts Posts: 869
    top tip....

    ....learned very recently. Draft someone in the pool. I am not a good swimmer (yet) with a 400 pace of 7:45 ish........if i draft someone i can take off 25 seconds! Same effort, more speed [:D]
  • pataallenpataallen Posts: 94
    Just resurecting this one from a few weeks ago...

    ... my swim technique is an embaressment, i've never really learned to swim front crawl properly, so at least i don't have too may bad habits!!!

    there's so much advice out there i don't know where to begin - except that this is obvious - invest in some coaching! I'm willing to do this, but when i google swim coach etc i can't find anything suitable, i find lots of swimming lessons for children and no swimmers, but nothing that i want? I tried to join my local Tri club, but got an email saying that they are 'full' and are not taking new member?

    any advice / tips welcome - i am in Guildford area, west of!
  • md6md6 Posts: 969
    @pataallen, I looked for specific tri coaching -www.swimfortri.co.uk (i think it was) did sessions which I am going to start the week after next. They are based in london, but Guilford isn't far really and if you work in London the sessions go quite late in the day (i was offered one at about 9pm. Not sure if they do early mornings.

  • SwizzlenapSwizzlenap Posts: 160
    There's some really interesting info on here, thanks guys. I've just started swimming and my legs seem to be going like a wind up toy in a bathtub! The 2 kicks video looks so relaxed, is there such a thing as a standard number of kick per beat?
  • FlavadaveFlavadave Posts: 749
    which course you doing md6? I've signed up for a swimfortri starting wednesday may 6th... Previously did a weekend workshop and thought they were great.
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