improve swimming

improve swimming

Post by Jim Bli » Fri, 08 May 1992 23:09:34


Hi Harry;

First, congratulations on learnings to swim.  I think you'll find it to be
a very worthwhile complement to running, as your endurance in both should
imrove.  I'll try to address the problems you mention:

1.  Other strokes are good to learn, to put some diversity into swimming,
    as well as utilize other muscle groups than those that freestyle uses.
    In lieu of having an actual swimming instructor critique/improve on
    your form, I would suggest buying a videotape of swimming techniques
    (should be available in large sporting goods stores).  This could help
    you to grasp the fundamentals.  After that, I would practice one-half
    of the stroke at a time (what psychologists and trainers refer to as
    "part-task training").  See my reply to #4.

2.  This is a little more difficult a problem.  While it is true that the
    breathing problem will probably improve with time as your technique
    improves, you may want to concentrate on your breathing as you swim,
    making sure that you take breaths as smoothly and regularly as
    possible.  It sounds like you may be taking breaths in a short, choppy
    fashion, and in so doing swallowing air.

3.  For flip turns, I was taught to practice doing somersaults first,
    forgetting about the kick-off temporarily.  When you are comfortable
    doing a somersault underwater and can effectively control your
    rotation, then face the swimming pool wall, staying about 2-3 feet
    away.  Then, do a somersault.  You'll probably end up up-side-down;
    that's okay. Push off the wall while up-side-down, then twist your body
    as you glide, so that you end up right-side-up and moving forward.
    Finally, resume your stroke.  Don't despair...it takes a bit of
    practice, as does all swimming.  One bit of advice:  during the
    somersault, do it in a "tuck" position (keeping the knees bent).
    Though some good competetive swimmers do flips in a pike position, that
    can be dangerous (I personally saw a kid crush both heels that way at a
    high school swim meet).  Besides, the current thinking is that the tuck
    position is faster anyway.

4.  Kick-boards and pull-bouys (the between-your-thighs thing :^) ) are
    extremely helpful for practicing selected parts of a stroke.  If you
    find yourself "sinking or moving slow" with them, that may be telling
    you that you need more practice.  Once you have mastered both
    kick-boards and pull-bouys, then you can swim without them,
    concentrating on merging the upper and lower body techniques, resulting
    in a more powerful and coordinated stroke.  This is also very helpful
    for learning new strokes.  For example, when learning ***stroke, you
    can use the kickboard to learn the fundamentals of the frog kick. When
    you have that mastered, then you can combine your frog kick with the
    pulling movement.  Because your kick is already in fairly good shape at
    that point, you can concentrate on timing and pulling technique.  One
    last point:  It's been my experience that pull-bouys are difficult for
    people to use effectively when swimming butterfly and ***stroke.
    However, they are good for freestyle and backstroke.  However,
    kickboards are helpful for virtually all strokes (except perhaps
    sidestroke, but then that's not really a recognized competitive
    stroke).

5.  I don't consider it bad to swim on an "empty or starving stomach",
    although I wouldn't push it too much.  I think there's more danger in
    swimming too soon after a meal (the meal might end up in the drink,
    which is pretty gross).  When I competed in high school, I generally
    swam from 6-8:30 a.m., and from 4-5:30 p.m.  Both periods (especially
    the early morning) my stomach was pretty starved.  My advice is to try
    it once or twice.  If you have problems, eat something small an hour
    before you swim.

Hope this helps!

Jim Bliss

 
 
 

improve swimming

Post by Anthony Hartm » Sat, 09 May 1992 01:17:05

|>
|> 4.  Kick-boards and pull-bouys (the between-your-thighs thing :^) ) are
|>     extremely helpful for practicing selected parts of a stroke.  If you
|>     find yourself "sinking or moving slow" with them, that may be telling
|>     you that you need more practice.
Can you give me any pointers on the kicking motion. Over the years I have
attempted to build it up with kick boards, but without much to show for it.
I actually go slower when I kick in the freestyle than when I don't. My
usual routine is to swim a couple 500 meter sets kicking, and then do
a final 500 with the pull bouy. The final 500 is 15-20% faster than the
first two.  I have taken a few stroke improvement courses here but without
much effect.  Maybe it is a coordination problem? Body position?

--
Tony Hartman


 
 
 

improve swimming

Post by Charlie Cockre » Sat, 09 May 1992 02:18:16

Quote:

>1.  Other strokes are good to learn, to put some diversity into swimming,
>    as well as utilize other muscle groups than those that freestyle uses.
>    In lieu of having an actual swimming instructor critique/improve on
>    your form, I would suggest buying a videotape of swimming techniques
>    (should be available in large sporting goods stores).  This could help
>    you to grasp the fundamentals.  After that, I would practice one-half
>    of the stroke at a time (what psychologists and trainers refer to as
>    "part-task training").  See my reply to #4.

Be careful which part you practice however. In freestyle, for example, a
good method is first to work on basic body position (i.e., make sure
you are streamlined), then develop a good kick, then add the arms, then
start to refine your stroke.
This gets you into the habit of keeping your kick going while
breathing. A similar approach works for all 4 strokes.

Quote:
>    that point, you can concentrate on timing and pulling technique.  One
>    last point:  It's been my experience that pull-bouys are difficult for
>    people to use effectively when swimming butterfly and ***stroke.

They are difficult to use with ***stroke, but very effective in
working on stroke technique. I would wait to use boards, buoys or
hand paddles until you have the fundamentals of the stroke down.
(Paddles, especially, can cause shoulder injuries if you start trying
to use them too soon).

Quote:
>    However, they are good for freestyle and backstroke.  However,
>    kickboards are helpful for virtually all strokes (except perhaps
>    sidestroke, but then that's not really a recognized competitive
>    stroke).

For backstroke and butterfly, I always trained without kickboards.
Kicking underwater with your arms extended over your head is also
a great way to work on kicks - for all strokes - the advantage is
that you are in a more natural swimming postion than when using a
kickboard. Doing freestyle or butterfly kick on your side with the bottom
arm extended and the top arm by your side also works.

--
Charlie***rell                          VV     VV 1991 Men's Soccer Champs.
NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. VV   VV  1992 Men's NIT Champions  
U.Va. School of Engineering, Class of 1990  VV VV   1991 Women's ACC BB Champs.
(These are my opinions only)                 VVV                        

 
 
 

improve swimming

Post by Ilana Ste » Sat, 09 May 1992 02:54:20

This is an article I posted to misc.fitness about a year and a half
ago.  I thought it might be helpful to the original poster and anyone
else who is bored with their swim workouts and/or wants to improve.

-------

The absolute best way to train for swimming (in the US) is to join a local
Master's Swim club.  You will work way harder with a coached workout, with
other people in your lane doing the same thing at about the same speed,
than you will in a pool with either nobody in your lane, or lots of human
obstacles.  A coach will also help you with stroke mechanics, which are
impossible to describe via email. :-) The only requirement for Master's
is that you be 19 or older.

If you don't have a Master's Swim club in your area (like if you live
in Australia :-) you can design your own workout, preferably with someone
else so you can push each other and keep from cheating, and maybe help
you take over a lane so there are no human obstacles.  It is hard to
train in a lane with "civilians."

Unlike in running, where interval training is used sparingly because of
injury risk, in swimming you can and should do most of your training
as intervals.  This builds strength, endurance, aerobic and or anaerobic
capacity, depending on the set, and in addition keeps boredom from setting
in.  Swim sets are usually specified as a distance and a time, which
includes the swim and rest time:  for example, 4x100 on 1:40 means that
you swim 100 yards, and rest at the wall until 1:40 has passed since
you started, and then set out on your second 100 meter swim.  Usually
you strive for a constant swim time throughout your set;  usually you
get slower and end up getting less rest toward the end of the set.

Structure your workout along the following lines (vary it as you see
fit, of course):
        Warmup 400-600 yards (can include stroke drills such as one-hand
                freestyle, and different strokes, kicking, pulling, etc.)
        Warmup set 400-800 yards (a short distance with a 10-15 sec or
                so rest interval, but lots of reps, e.g. 10x50 on 1:00
                or :55 -- not a sprint, keep it even)
        Main set 800-1600 yards (see below)
        Sprint set 200-400 yards (short distance with long rest, e.g.
                8x25 on 1:00, or 4x100 on 3:00.
        Warmdown 200-400 yards (real slow, relax, not an interval swim)

Vary the main set according to your goals for that workout.  If you
are working on aerobic endurance, use long swims and short rests, e.g.
200's or 500's with 5-10 seconds rest.  For strength, do a hard/easy
alternating set, such as alternating hard and easy 100's or 200's.
If you use the same interval for both hard and easy, you get more rest
after the hard swims.  For anaerobic capacity, do short swims with
short rests, such as hard 50's with 5 seconds rest -- then you might
replace the sprint set with a stroke drill set, or kicking.

The sets don't have to be all swims of equal length:  pyramids and
ladders keep you from getting bored.  A sample ladder type main set
might be:  1x300 swim on 5:45, 2x150 pull on 2:50, 4x75 swim on 1:20.
Or alternate freestyle with some other stroke: 4x (200 swim on 3:20,
100 backstroke or ***stroke on 2:00)

You will want to do a reference set every few weeks so you can track
your progress.  Sample reference sets are a timed straight 1600 swim (if you
are metric, do 1500 meters) or a "cruise set" of 8 or 10 100's on the
smallest interval you can do them all on.

Good stroke drills include:  one armed freestyle, catch-up stroke (swim
freestyle, but use only one arm at a time, letting them "catch up" in
front of you, ***stroke pull, and my favorite of all, swimming freestyle
with a tennis ball in each hand (helps you zero in on proper hand motion
and positioning).

It is probably best to swim 3-4x/week.  Less than that and you will not
improve very fast, more than that and you will wonder why you are wasting
all of your time in the pool.  YOU CAN INJURE YOURSELF SWIMMING! so don't
think you can overtrain with no ill effects.  Be particularly careful to
warm up well before any sprint or hard swimming.  I tore my rotator cuff
by sprinting after only 600 yards of warm-up, and had to stop swimming
for 6 weeks.

My authority on all of this is my 5 years in Masters Swim, and especially
our swim coach here in Boulder, Jane Scott (Dave Scott's sister).
I don't know everything about swimming, but I can try to answer questions
and dispute conclusions.  Have fun!

--
/\        Ilana Stern DOD#009 |     One in six road accidents in Sweden

      \_______________________|______________________________________________

 
 
 

improve swimming

Post by Douglas S. Lindbl » Sat, 09 May 1992 05:13:59

...
Quote:
> Good stroke drills include:  one armed freestyle, catch-up stroke (swim
> freestyle, but use only one arm at a time, letting them "catch up" in
> front of you,

                 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Sorry, but this may be one of the WORST freestyle drills in existence.
Reason?  It teaches poor shoulder rotation and flattens out the stroke.  To
swim fast, you need to swim freestyle largely on your side in order to
reduce drag and improve the efficiency of your deeper arm.

Try instead a "reverse catch-up" drill in which you do the "catch up" at
your side instead of in front of you.  This will give your shoulders moor
freedom to roll during the stroke.

(credit: got this one from my sister's U. Pgh. coach - thanks Mark.)

You might also try "side-kick-N" drills, where N=12,9,6, or 3.  Here you do
N kicks on your side with your deep arm reaching out in front of you, and
with the last kick begin your armstroke and roll over to the other side.  In
college we used to do sets of 200's where the number of kicks decreased each
50.  That is, do

        50 side-kick-12, 50 side-kick-6, 50 side-kick-3, 50 swim (rolling the
        shoulders properly).

--

Department of Electrical Engineering
Rice University

 
 
 

improve swimming

Post by Charlie Cockre » Sat, 09 May 1992 20:41:08

Quote:


>...
>> Good stroke drills include:  one armed freestyle, catch-up stroke (swim
>> freestyle, but use only one arm at a time, letting them "catch up" in
>> front of you,
>                 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

>Sorry, but this may be one of the WORST freestyle drills in existence.
>Reason?  It teaches poor shoulder rotation and flattens out the stroke.  To
>swim fast, you need to swim freestyle largely on your side in order to
>reduce drag and improve the efficiency of your deeper arm.

I strongly disagree. This is an excellent drill which can be very effective
in teaching the underwater pull pattern for freestyle. You don't
swim freestyle largely on your side either. You do rotate the shoulders
at the entry phase to extend your arm. Every USS coach I know uses this
drill.                  

Quote:
>You might also try "side-kick-N" drills, where N=12,9,6, or 3.  Here you do
>N kicks on your side with your deep arm reaching out in front of you, and
>with the last kick begin your armstroke and roll over to the other side.  In
>college we used to do sets of 200's where the number of kicks decreased each
>50.  That is, do

This is also a good one - we used this frequently - this teaches the
shoulder roll as well as the underwater pull pattern.

--
Charlie***rell                          VV     VV 1991 Men's Soccer Champs.
NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. VV   VV  1992 Men's NIT Champions  
U.Va. School of Engineering, Class of 1990  VV VV   1991 Women's ACC BB Champs.
(These are my opinions only)                 VVV