Getting Started With Swimming (for those who can barely do a few laps)
Have no endurance? try this routine for
your first few months.
Your not gonna like what I have to say now BUT you have to be able to do the
freestyle stroke... the forward crawl. It's true, it's true. It's really
the fastest way to swim once you get decent at it. If your not good at
swimming...take a few lessons. Having good technique will make things so
much easier. You should understand if you know a little bit about how I
Once upon a time, in a pool
that wasn't so far, far away, I learned to swim. It was at the YMCA.
I took lessons for about 3 years in elementary school. When I stopped with
the lessons, I had progressed from a tadpole to a dolphin...I wasn't a shark or
flying fish though. I was decent but didn't really care for swimming...my
parents just wanted me to do something besides causing trouble.
Anyways, I never really
swam for two decades until I started training for the swimming part of my
triathlon. I thought it would be a piece of cake. You know, I was
running good for the past two years, I figured my lung capacity from running and
my much prior swimming training would carry me through easily...WRONG!!!
When I first tried the forward crawl, freestyle stroke, I about died half-way
through my first lap. I had to be able to swim
a mile in a few months...what am I going to do? Hmmmm.....
Well, I started doing many laps of the breaststroke, an easy stroke for me -
kinda like my resting stroke...if needed I could do it tirelessly for an hour.
I slowly worked in the freestyle. I would do 8 laps of the breaststroke
and then 1 lap of freestyle then 8 and 1 again. I gradually was able to do
get it to 2 laps of breaststroke then 1 lap of freestyle...it was not fun
though...still very difficult. During this time, I always brought my head
up to the left to breath after every stroke...not necessarily good. How am
I to progress further?...I felt like I ran into a brick wall.
Well, one of the speakers at my
mom and dads Nikken product roll-out was a triathlete. She had just done
her first. She had a lot of tips. Relevant to swimming, she told me
that it is very important to be able to breath on both sides. Some people
could be splashing you on one side or waves can be coming at you on a particular
side impeding your breathing...allowing you to get a mouthful of unpleasant
tasting H2O. So being able to breath on both sides will benefit
To be able to breath on
both sides, you need to learn
'alternate breathing' technique. This is alternating the side you breath
on, on every third stroke. Sounds cool? Absolutely not! This
was the hardest part yet! It is the weirdest feeling trying to breath on
the other side...like writing with your other hand. You must also learn to
hold your breath for two strokes. Being that I could barely hold my breath
for one stroke this proved very difficult. For about a month I felt like I
was drowning but then the next time I went swimming I never noticed that I had
to fight to hold my breath!!! I did it.
I then went back to swimming
breaststroke for 6 laps and then the alternate breathing freestyle for one lap.
Before race day I had significantly improved. I was doing two laps of the
freestyle (alternate breathing) to one lap of breaststroke (my rest stroke).
I was doing this without too much effort. I had finally stopped gasping
What did all this extremely
horrible work do for me? Well, doing the alternate breathing freestyle
stroke allowed me to be able to concentrate on my swimming for two whole strokes
- giving me speed and power. Think about it, every time you go up to
breath, you lose 'focus', your stroke breaks down. This improved freestyle
stroke also dramatically improved my speed. My lung capacity also improved
greatly. Although it is good to know the alternate breathing style, you
don't really need it for racing unless its wavey or splashy to one side.
If you have problems getting enough air, it's better to breath every stroke for optimal oxygen intake so your not as
tired on the bike and run.
Now I love swimming. It
gives me that runners high afterwards. It's a great total body workout.
I hope that you really give swimming a chance...it will be hard work in the
beginning but all of the sudden you will be doing it effortlessly. I feel
it's the best exercise for you.