September 2008 Swim Training Chat with Coach Kevin Koskella

author : Tri Swim Coach
comments : 0

Discussions on open water swim drifting off course, no improvement, weight training for swimming and how much time to devote to drills.

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[chirunner134] I did my second 5k swim race on Saturday but this time with no wet suit. I found myself drifting way to the right a lot. Especially when I got tired. My right arm is weaker and I tend to breathe on the left side.  I'm not sure if I should bilateral breathe or strength train to remove the right arm imbalance?
 

[Tri Swim Coach] Was there a current or was this a lake?

[chirunner134] Lake and it was a double loop triangle. I was drifting on all 3 sides. It was the big shoulders 5k if you know that race.


[Tri Swim Coach] I would practice bilateral breathing, and breathing on your weaker side more often. Also, do some serious kicking on your side (weaker side) until you feel more balanced.

[KathyG] I have a general overall swim training question. In 5 years into triathlons, swimming 3x a week, have had numerous coaches, attended clinics but I never improve. I'm tired of wasting my time. I can't feel when I do things different or better...my technique is bad...I know...but next IM I want to do better...I'm frustrated a lot!

[Tri Swim Coach] Kathy, I think you need to get videotaped underwater and have someone analyze your stroke. If you are in southern California I can help you.


[KathyG] I've done it. They tell me what drills to do but I can't tell if I do them right or wrong...so more of the same crappy swimming.  I've had 4 coaches and a tri coach...they all try and help me.

[Tri Swim Coach] Kathy, watching good swimming technique can help a lot too.

[KathyG] I watch Youtube. I think I'm a slow learner. I just can't tell what I'm doing when I try working on stuff to make sure I'm doing it better. I can tell what others are doing wrong watching them...but not myself.


[Tri Swim Coach] Kathy, have you ever played "free golf"?  Free golf is a set of 50's, where you count strokes and check your time after each one. Add the two numbers together to get your "score."  Keep lowering this number until you can't lower it anymore.  Think about rotating hips, gliding, and pulling instead of kicking harder.


[KathyG] I swim flat like a barge. My BT friend helped me and I took 18 minutes off my IM swim time in a week.  1:48 isn't a great IM swim...I did beat 30 people though.  I enter my arms to wide of my shoulders and wasn't pulling on my side.
 

[Tri Swim Coach] Kathy- you can try my list of coaches www.triswimcoach.com/findacoach.php or go to the www.usms.org site.

 

[KathyG] I've tried 2 masters and I have a lead on a third I may try. Many just do intervals and don't work on technique that is really my problem I need to deal with first.

 

[Tri Swim Coach] Yes, this is the ever-present problem with masters practices- not a lot of technique work.

 

[dodgersmom] I just once want to feel like I am using my lats and not my shoulders.

[Tri Swim Coach] Well, you do want to think about using your hips when you swim. Your hips should rotate with each stroke.

[dodgersmom] I have not paid attention to that.

[chirunner134] Will weight training help swimming at all? I started weight training for weight loss and I was wondering if it will help at all.
 

[Tri Swim Coach] Yes and no. Weight training is essential for swimmers who race in the pool, 50, 100, 200, and 500 yard swims.  When you get to longer distances, actual pool time is the most important.
 

[chirunner134] I only care about 1500+ meter distances.
 

[Tri Swim Coach] BUT, a lot can be gained from working the core muscles, like the abdominals and the back.

[chirunner134] Working lats would be good?

[Tri Swim Coach] Working lats is good, but it must be focused. The idea is to lift weights for endurance, not for bulk or speed.


[rc63413] What book would you most recommend for newer swimmers wanting to learn how to train mostly freestyle?

[Tri Swim Coach] The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming!

[KathyG] So how many lessons do you recommend to be able to see if this coach is helping or not?

[Tri Swim Coach] Kathy- I think you should be able to tell after 2 or 3 lessons.

[davealt] I've got two questions 1) For a swimmer with almost zero background, how much of their available pool time would you have them devote to drills in the beginning, and 2) do you recommend the off-strokes be implemented in tri training?

 

[Tri Swim Coach] 1) I would recommend 100% drills at the beginning until you can develop good balance in the water and have the basics down, 2) I do recommend learning the other strokes for cross training- if you're just going to learn one other stroke, learn back stroke.


[KathyG] Do you think when you work on changing technique you should just do drills and no freestyle...some say do that for a couple months just drills.

 

[Tri Swim Coach] YES!!

[KathyG]
I wish I could understand how drills should feel so I know I'm doing them correctly...feedback.
 

[Tri Swim Coach] I am developing some waterproof drill cards to take to the pool, but they won't be ready for another 6 weeks or so.
 

[KathyG] Will they help with knowing if I am doing drills correctly? Want to learn to do things correctly.
 

[Tri Swim Coach] Yes they will help, but having a coach/instructor would be better.

[KathyG] What would you look for in a coach?

[Tri Swim Coach]  http://beginnertriathlete.com/cms/Article-detail.asp?Articleid=566

[rc63413] In running there is long slow runs and base building, is there something analogous to that for swimmers. How much volume and how many days a week would you recommend for someone who has been swimming for a few months? Is there a target volume/frequency of swimming that is optimal?

 

[Tri Swim Coach] There is definitely base building in swimming. Minimum would be 3 times a week in the water. It depends on where you are starting from and what you're training for but if you can get up to 3,000-yard workouts you're doing well!

[rstocks3] I think drills should be done right after the warm up for no more than 10 minutes and no more than 2 or 3 drills. How does that sound Kevin?

[Tri Swim Coach] That's good for an intermediate or advanced swim program. For beginners I say you can do more than 10 minutes of drills.

[rc63413]
If swim is your weakness, you are relatively new with 2 min/100 (slow swimmer). For a HIM, what kind of long swims would you be getting in and how often?

[Tri Swim Coach] After you've done drills for a few weeks and have your balance and technique down, I would do long swims every week or at least every other week. Swim the distance of your race, preferably in the open water.

[Socks] Been doing some pulling which tends to give me a better feel for my stroke.

[Tri Swim Coach] pulling=bad (with a pull buoy).  Stop that right now!  Pulling is like a life vest- it gives you artificial flotation, doesn't allow you to practice and improve balance in the water. Secondly, it is tough on your shoulders, and you could develop tendonitis.

[Socks] I used to hate pulling cause I was so weak. It breaks up the monotony of swimming for me.

[Tri Swim Coach] Try the Freestyler paddles socks.

[Socks] When I am wearing my wetsuit in a race I get numbness in my left arm and hand about 800 yards into the swim.

[Tri Swim Coach] Are you sure your wetsuit fits?  Seems like it must be a wetsuit problem.

[Socks] It's a little big.  I'm looking into one with sleeves.

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date: October 2, 2008

Tri Swim Coach

I'm at http://www.TriSwimCoach.com- a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. I have also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” and created "The Essential Triathlon Swimming DVD", both available on www.triswimcoach.com.

For a 20% DISCOUNT on Zoomers Z2 fins and Freestyler paddles, go to www.finisinc.com and use discount code ‘aggies20’ at checkout!

avatarTri Swim Coach

I'm at http://www.TriSwimCoach.com- a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. I have also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” and created "The Essential Triathlon Swimming DVD", both available on www.triswimcoach.com.

For a 20% DISCOUNT on Zoomers Z2 fins and Freestyler paddles, go to www.finisinc.com and use discount code ‘aggies20’ at checkout!

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