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2013-08-14 12:22 PM

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Alabama
Subject: Beginner swim advice needed
I think I was born knowing how to swim. I was the youngest of 4 kids and grew up racing my older siblings in our backyard pool. I have never had a swim lesson in my life...it has always just 'come naturally'.

Today in the pool I was swimming along lost in thought and in the adjacent lane I see this young man floundering in the water....just beating the haill out of it. He'd pass me and then he'd stop and rest for a lap. I just kept trudging along, never stopping. Then he'd start again and swim a lap faster than me but then have to stop again and catch his breath.

When I finally stopped at 2,000 yds he made a comment that I was a good swimmer. I chuckled and said, no actually I am pretty slow. He asked how far I'd gone and I siad 40 laps. He said he was just trying to swim 400 yds non-stop but could not do it. I said maybe he should slow down a little. He said he felt like if he slowed down he'd sink. I had no idea what to tell him.

This is the second time I've had someone tell me they felt like they had to swim hard/fast or they felt like they were gonna sink/drown and I just don't know what to tell people.

So for you swim experts out there, what do you tell someone who feels like they need to swim fast/hard to avoid sinking?


2013-08-14 12:34 PM
in reply to: Rogillio

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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
i am by no means a swim expert - but would suggest having them practice just being able to float on the surface. If they can't do that, I could see them sinking when swimming. It's probably how they're breathing or not breathing I should say.

that's my common sense thought - an expert swimmer may tell me i'm 100% wrong though.
2013-08-14 12:36 PM
in reply to: Rogillio

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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
you said that he said "he felt like" he would sink - I wonder if he really was, or if he just was imaging it

he'd probably do best to find a swim instructor or someone to work with him - because from his current method as you described it - I don't know if he'd make much gain by himself
2013-08-14 12:41 PM
in reply to: austhokie

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Alabama
Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
Originally posted by austhokie

you said that he said "he felt like" he would sink - I wonder if he really was, or if he just was imaging it

he'd probably do best to find a swim instructor or someone to work with him - because from his current method as you described it - I don't know if he'd make much gain by himself


Good guestion. He had a really good, muscular upper body.....so presumabley his upper body mass was pretty dense. The other guys I mentioned was not muscular at all but is probably 7% BF.

I agree he probably needs swim lessons but I hate to just tell people to 'take lessons'. I'd like to offer them at least one little 'tip' that might help them.
2013-08-14 12:44 PM
in reply to: Rogillio

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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
Tell them to stop fighting the water. Many people, especially big guys, are just pushing super hard because they think that is what they need to do to float. Try to get them to move through the water, not over it. They need to relax and flow through the water instead of fighting to stay above it.
2013-08-14 12:45 PM
in reply to: Rogillio


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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
I've had this happen to me.

I tell them only a few things to keep it simple:

- Keep the head down and legs UP.
- RELAX. If you're working really hard as a beginner, you're doing it wrong. If you can't relax in the water, time to do float drills.

That's usually it, but if they're ok with those two things:

- Try to kick less. It'll allow you to get your stroke right since beginners invariably use the kick to rebalance an errant pull.



2013-08-14 12:48 PM
in reply to: Rogillio

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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
I suspect it's his hips. Sounds like he probably had a pretty decent kick, if he was getting tired that easy. Maybe suggest using a pull bouy.
2013-08-14 1:06 PM
in reply to: Rogillio

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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
He needs to learn how to balance/float so that he feels like the water is supporting him. Learning this is absolutely critical to becoming a good swimmer.

Some swim coaches teach this by teaching students to swim "downhill". Not that you are swimming towards the bottom of the pool but your balancing your body weight on your chest which is buoyant and at first it kind of feels like you are slowly going downhill or leaning front. The end result that it actually lets you swim level in the water .

-Mark
2013-08-14 1:43 PM
in reply to: Rogillio

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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
Most people who are "fighting" the water and getting winded are trying to swim with their arms. Swimming is a lot like golf in that you need to engage the large muscles in the back to maximize power. I've told people not to think about moving your hand as quickly as possible but instead to think about planting your hand, creating an anchor point and pulling your body over your hand.

If you don't want to recommend lessons, you could recommend he checks out swimsmooth.com
2013-08-14 2:24 PM
in reply to: blbriley

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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed

Sounds like a good candidate for TI.

Mark

2013-08-14 2:47 PM
in reply to: RedCorvette

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Alabama
Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
Originally posted by RedCorvette

Sounds like a good candidate for TI.

Mark




I wish I'd of thought of that Mark. Always good to reccomend a good book on a subject I know nothing about....but have read people swear by it.


2013-08-14 3:00 PM
in reply to: Rogillio


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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
I still think TI is the single best book that a thrashing swimmer can read to actually make technique progress. In fact, the more you thrash, the more you need to read and practice the principles of TI.

(I actually would NOT recommend TI for someone who's not thrashing in the water - I'd recommend other slightly more advanced books that focus on different things like the catch, etc.)
2013-08-14 3:05 PM
in reply to: yazmaster

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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
Here's another vote for better balance/less kicking.
For better balance - head down, hips up. One butt cheek should be at the top of or coming out of the water each stroke.
For less kicking - try to kick only enough to keep the hips from sinking. It's not what Michael Phelps does, but it's a lot better than kicking yourself to exhaustion.
2013-08-14 11:13 PM
in reply to: Rogillio


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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
Sounds like you're describing me, lol. I've been making strides but I'm still having immense difficulty in chaining laps together. I'm definitely having troubles properly relaxing and breathing comfortably. Very frustrating.
2013-08-15 8:12 AM
in reply to: deadpool7

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Alabama
Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
Originally posted by deadpool7

Sounds like you're describing me, lol. I've been making strides but I'm still having immense difficulty in chaining laps together. I'm definitely having troubles properly relaxing and breathing comfortably. Very frustrating.


So my suggestion to you is to buy the book Total Immersion (TI). $11.50 at Amazon.
2013-08-15 10:27 AM
in reply to: RZ0


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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
Originally posted by RZ0

Here's another vote for better balance/less kicking.
For better balance - head down, hips up. One butt cheek should be at the top of or coming out of the water each stroke.
For less kicking -to kick only enough to keep the hips from sinking. It's not what Michael Phelps does, but it's a lot better than kicking yourself to exhaustion.


The head down (only a small portion of the back of the head above the waterline) position preached to the "novice" can become a real issue in that a swimmer in this position is going to have to rotate like 90 degrees to take a breathe.


2013-08-15 11:24 AM
in reply to: 0


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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
Originally posted by Billyk

Originally posted by RZ0

Here's another vote for better balance/less kicking.
For better balance - head down, hips up. One butt cheek should be at the top of or coming out of the water each stroke.
For less kicking -to kick only enough to keep the hips from sinking. It's not what Michael Phelps does, but it's a lot better than kicking yourself to exhaustion.


The head down (only a small portion of the back of the head above the waterline) position preached to the "novice" can become a real issue in that a swimmer in this position is going to have to rotate like 90 degrees to take a breathe.


It's worth the tradeoff for beginner swimmers. Even if it makes it harder for them to breath, it accomplishes the far more important habit of flattening the whole body out in the water and not letting the legs drag. That leg drag is a real killer for true beginners who have never read about how to swim correctly - in my local YMCA, I'd say that 90% of the people in the pool have a serious leg drop/drag. (This number becomes <20% when you go to the triathlon masters swim group despite the fact that they're not particularly fast swimmers and only slightly faster overall - I think it's the difference between swimmers who are at least trying to improve technique vs those that really don't care at all or haven't ever studied what proper swim technique should look like)

Once the beginner swimmer isn't having difficulty swimming long distance and isn't having a major leg drag issue, it's a pretty minor fix to experiment with head positions in comparison.

Edited by yazmaster 2013-08-15 11:25 AM
2013-08-15 4:11 PM
in reply to: yazmaster


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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
I was in this same boat about nine months ago. I have a buddy at church who coaches water polo for his two girls. He was kind enough to take me to his gym and while he couldn't figure me out, he told me to get a pull buoy. So, for a few months I trained with that, and did drills where I'd drag my knuckles across the water when my arm came out, and keep my thumb in contact with my side.

Paid him in smoked turkey and thought it was the best investment I could make.

A few months later I did a similar session with his college-student son. This guy specializes in teaching little kids and disabled adults, and has some physical challenges himself. Took him about 40 minutes to straighten out my kick. Now, I'm sure my kick is larger than four inches, but I mentally think of it as being four inches, and it works. I had been kicking with about a 24-30 inch spread, and if I used a kickboard, I actually moved backwards in the pool.

So now, I'm feeling blinding bursts of adequacy in the pool. Time on the 500m has gone from 23 minutes to 12 minutes.
2013-08-15 4:12 PM
in reply to: deadpool7

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Subject: RE: Beginner swim advice needed
I've had similar issue's with breathing/feeling comfortable as well. What helped me was taking easier (maybe smaller) breaths. Don't try to inhale as much air as you can, instead concentrate on exhaling completely and taking a easy inhale. I've found that this lowers my HR and allows me to swim much smoother. It may not be advice for the 1:15/100 swimmers but for those like myself 1:45/100 swimmers, I think it could help getting the yardage and thus the conditioning up. Speed will come.
Good Luck
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