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Improving/Learning to swim

  • #2
    Registered Users Posts: 282 ✭✭ Clseeper


    This seems to be a common question so I thought I’d post this to try and help people out. I’m a swimming coach and have taught all levels [kids/adult/club] for the last 8 years. I also swam competitively since I was a kid. These are just my thoughts and would love feedback and other people’s opinions.

    Learning to swim as an adult can be quite daunting for the majority of people. The big issue with teaching adult beginners as opposed to kids is that adults have a preconceived wariness/fear of the water. Once this is overcome the progression can be quite quick.

    Learning
    Lessons
    Group swimming lessons are the most common way people learn to swim. These will have different levels which normally cater for all range of abilities. Nearly every lesson has new ‘total’ beginners at the start of each new course so you won’t be alone. Try and get some feedback from people doing the lessons on what the teacher is like or even try and meet the teacher before the first lesson. For beginner’s, it’s quite important that you are comfortable with and trust the teacher. It makes it easier when they start to progress the strokes and push you outside your comfort zone.

    Group lessons are great as a whole social side can develop. You will find it a lot easier to motivate yourself to go to the lessons if you know ‘X’ & ‘Y’ will be there and you can have a bit of a laugh. Class sizes play a big part in swimming especially when at the beginner stage when the swimmers need more attention and supervision. This becomes less important as you progress but obviously the more people there are in the group, the less attention you are likely to get. Group lessons are also cheaper than the other private 1-2-1 alternative.

    Cost
    Lessons are normal booked in block terms [maybe 10 weeks] and on average lessons can range from €11-€16 per lesson. This depends largely on the pool/club, location and how long each lesson is. Swimming lessons can range from 30mins to 1hr.

    1-2-1
    Private lessons or 1-2-1 lessons can be of great benefit. Total attention and a lesson totally catered to you and set at your level. Another advantage is the flexibility you gain in the private lessons. While most group lessons are on a set time each week, you, as the client can dictate when you want the private lessons. Obviously this will depend on the teachers’ availability and demand but it means that you don’t pay for a lesson which you may miss due to other commitments.

    In private lesson you have much more control, make sure you use any time you have with personal lessons. If you think you’re weak in a certain aspect of a stroke then tell the teacher and ask them to explain it more or do some more drills. Remember (without being pushy or arrogant) that you are the client and if you’re not happy with the teacher then you can easily get someone else.

    Cost
    These can be quite expensive depending on the teacher and their level of experience/demand. Private lessons can range from €30 - €60 per lesson and also vary in lesson duration.

    Progression
    After you’ve mastered the basics of the swimming, why stop there? Swimming is known as a great all body workout and a lot of people wouldn’t mind having a ‘swimmers’ physic. But to pay dividends you need to swim at a high enough intensity. You’re not going to benefit much from swimming 20 lengths of the pool with 5 minutes rest in-between! Sure it’s fine to start at this level but you have to progress and improve on it.

    Lessons
    Most clubs/gyms have numerous levels in their class structure. This level varies from place to place but the advanced and the levels in-between are normally designed to progress you to swimming lengths at a time and maybe beyond. It is still quite structured in that there would be a teacher and you would be introduced to new strokes, drills and training techniques.

    Cost
    Normally the same setup and costs as the beginner lessons above. Numbers in the class can be a bit higher.

    Club
    There are numerous masters swimming clubs dotted around the country. These normally cater for all ages and all abilities [~20 – 70+]. Ideally you should be able to swim a one or two lengths at a time but can range right up to the ex competitive swimmers who could be doing 2-3km in a session.

    These clubs are normally very social and even do the odd competition but the atmosphere is very laid back and relaxed. Some sort of coach/teacher is normally present at most sessions but with 5 lanes [full pool] the chances of a large amount of individual stroke correction is small.

    Cost
    Some clubs charge a flat fee per month (€??) or just charge entry per session.

    Group
    Some clubs/gyms have dedicated ‘lane swim’ hours and can attract a good crowd. There is no teacher/coach and it can be a free for all. Some clubs/gyms set different level lanes and sometimes put down suggested swimming sessions to follow. Good for getting some extra training in but quite hard to improve your strokes unless there is someone helping you out or you are quite focused and know what you’re working on.

    Cost
    May be free if you are a member of the gym, they just see it as use of the facility. Otherwise it’s normally just the entrance fee to use the pool.

    1-2-1
    This is where I personally think the most value in private lesson is. You have a good basic level and now really want your perfect your stroke. You do your own training and just do one/two private lessons a month to perfect your stroke and get feedback. Key to this is getting the right teacher/coach and at this level it should be a coach. Preferably somebody who has swam to a high enough level competitively or is extensively experienced in a high level swim teaching, not just your learning to swim group. The majority of gym staff has a swimming teacher qualification but that is just a tag along to the gym instructor cert, aerobic course, aquafit course, pilates course etc. For this you really need someone who knows their stuff.

    Cost
    Same as 1-2-1 above

    Hope this may help.

    :cool:


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Comments

  • #2


    Cool post :)


  • #2


    Cheers for the post! It's very helpful.

    I used to swim loads as a kid and teenager but for some reason got out of the habit. I've now found that I'm nearly back to square one.

    I'm living in Glasnevin, is there anywhere around there or on the Northside that would run swimming lessons?


  • #2


    HI! At 30 its a really bothering me that I cant swim I really want to be able to just enjoy holidays more and even try out some watersports. Im not that enthusiastic about having my face underwater but I have taken a few 1-2-1 lessons about two years ago and they did combat that fear but I did not manage to learn to swim! I found the classes short and could hardly hear what she was shouting from the side! I dont have a fear of the water but I was useless at getting bouyant. Im thinking of signing up for 8 week group lessons in Shannon and see how I get on there if instructor willing to do some 1-2-1 after/during the 8 weeks try that do. I know it should not be that hard but I am disheartened now.

    Whats the best advice re lessons group or 1-2-1 and if so who should I contact in Limerick re 1-2-1.

    My niece who is in preschool is learning and loves it so its about time I could!


  • #2


    It’s kinda hard to make a proper call on what stopped you last time without seeing your stroke. From your descriptions, it’s all positive; you have no fear of the water and can get your face in. Assuming this will allow you to get a good position on the water then the rest is just technique and practice. At 30 your one of the young ones! :) Try getting 60 year old ladies to "Point their toes, keep their knees quite straight and kick fast while keeping enough depth to get power." .......and many of them get it after a while.

    I’d always try and encourage people to take the group lessons as they can be much more enjoyable & socialable. Having said that, if the class sizes are too big or there is other issues (like not being able to hear the teacher) then this will impact how you get on.

    Not too familiar with Shannon (apart from the pool at Fitzpatrick in Bunratty) but the university pool in limerick is brilliant. They have a very active amateur and masters club and I would assume you would have any trouble get 1:1 lessons there.

    As always make sure you get an idea of things before you jump in; size of class, target ability, teacher feedback & experience, etc.

    On the not hearing the teacher thing. Make sure you sort this out this time around. Get them to repeat to you what they said maybe when you closer. It bugs me when people, mostly kids, nod away (haven’t a clue what you’re explaining to them) and then go off and do exactly the same thing as before. The teacher wants you to improve so make sure you use them!


  • #2


    Thank you do much for your reply...and positve outlook! I know the questions I need to ask now before committing to the class and will check out whats on in UL too. Hopefully I will have a positve result.


  • #2


    I learned to swim about 6 months ago and I understand that 20 lengths of the pool may not seem much (as in your earlier post) but I only managed my first length in January and now do 24-28 lengths of a 25 metre pool 2-3 times a week (40 minute sessions). Finding it difficult to extend that though. I'm 39. Will the fact that I learned so late mean that I'm about my limit or do you think I will be able to add a few more if I keep at it?


  • #2


    I learned to swim about 6 months ago and I understand that 20 lengths of the pool may not seem much (as in your earlier post) but I only managed my first length in January and now do 24-28 lengths of a 25 metre pool 2-3 times a week (40 minute sessions). Finding it difficult to extend that though. I'm 39. Will the fact that I learned so late mean that I'm about my limit or do you think I will be able to add a few more if I keep at it?

    Keep at it. I'm 39, learned a couple of years ago and usually do 60-64 lengths (1500m or a mile) in under 30 minutes. I hit a wall at the 10 lap stage and it took a while to get beyond it but from there I was able to increase the distance more easily.

    Have you taken an improvers course? It made a big difference for me in terms of stroke correction & learning to pace myself.


  • #2


    Have you taken an improvers course? It made a big difference for me in terms of stroke correction & learning to pace myself.[/quote]

    Wow. That certainly gives me hope. I've completed an improvers course but it contained about 10 people so I suppose it was not very "one to one".

    I have tried to pace myself a bit better over the course of the last few weeks and it certainly is helping. I've also tried to concentrate on not taking deep breaths every breath (if you know what I mean) and that's also helping. I'm almost at the 30 and I suppose the next target after that will be 40. Perseverance!


  • #2


    heya folks....

    im learning to swim 'proberly' as im doing a triathlon at the end of July. I have to swim 750 meters in under 20mins and at the moment i cant do more than 300 meters (its my breathing - either too much or too little air!)

    anyways, im a manber of the westwood club in clontarf and iv found a coach who will give me a couple of lessons.

    is this allowed does anyone know? can i bring in a guy to the pool area and have him coach me? i need a card to get into the place....


  • #2


    Shouldn't be a problem, but might be pricey. Managers and management tend to have a funny view of private coaching, as they aren't getting a cut, But you are the customer, so they have to keep you happy. thats the bottom line


  • #2


    heya folks....

    im learning to swim 'proberly' as im doing a triathlon at the end of July. I have to swim 750 meters in under 20mins and at the moment i cant do more than 300 meters (its my breathing - either too much or too little air!)

    anyways, im a manber of the westwood club in clontarf and iv found a coach who will give me a couple of lessons.

    is this allowed does anyone know? can i bring in a guy to the pool area and have him coach me? i need a card to get into the place....

    Not going to happen unless you rent a lane in clontarf.


  • #2


    tunney wrote: »
    Not going to happen unless you rent a lane in clontarf.

    do you mean that i wont be able to bring him in unless i pay for a lane?


  • #2


    Private membership pools can be a bit sticky about it, but if you take the time to find the closest local authority pool, they won't mind (can't do anything about it) As long as you both have a ticket to swim, its hunky dory. Not sure if it'll fly in Westwood, But you could just try both going in as swimmers and stay beside each other in the lane, or in the casual swimming section if there is one. Not sure what the exact setup is in Westwood, but I can gaurantee that the managers will be less than impressed. Its understandable, Pools are very difficult to keep in profit, Lessons are a great way to generate a bit of revenue and keep the books pretty, When they see someone coming in stealing their thunder without giving them a piece of the action they aren't gonna like it. Depending on how their sessions are structured, they might just have to swallow it and walk away. Be nice about it though, especially if you've payed a big annual sub for membership.....:)


  • #2
    Cleeper I'm starting off completely from scratch at an advanced age.
    Is it likely I'll be boyant at the end of 10 weeks?
    How long does it usually take to learn?


  • #2


    Now obviously all my comments are from my experience in general but even my most water phobic swimmers have gotten that far after 10 weeks. As long as you make all of the lessons and try everything then you‘ll defiantly excel beyond that.

    Within a 10 week program you will probably get as far as swimming for short distances [~10-15m] at a time, kicking on your front and maybe with arms. You will probably also be kicking on your back and maybe some arm strokes.

    As everyone is individual you could conquer all or some of these or maybe excel beyond this. But floating and buoyancy should be the first thing you learn. That’ll comprise most of your first lesson – floating, body position and getting comfortable in the water.

    Good luck and enjoy it.


  • #2


    Benibus "Keep at it. I'm 39, learned a couple of years ago and usually do 60-64 lengths (1500m or a mile) in under 30 minutes. I hit a wall at the 10 lap stage and it took a while to get beyond it but from there I was able to increase the distance more easily."
    that is really impressive , it gives me such hope .

    I was just wondering is self training just a bad idea ???, see the problem i have is that i can swim ( not very well-about 30 laps in 20 minutes) but there is room for loads of improvement and the pool near me only does adult beginners lessons and no private courses , i really want to improve because i am doing a sprint triathlon in september and really want to do well

    I got some tips on the internet to improve my technique and this is part of my self training plan


  • #2


    Where are you based ?
    The National Aquatic Centre in Blanchardstown have lessons for all lessons, and you can also book private lessons.


  • #2


    the nearest one to me is aura leisure centre in carrick on shannon co leitrim


  • #2
    Seres wrote: »
    the nearest one to me is aura leisure centre in carrick on shannon co leitrim


    This is where I am learning...there are improvers lessons going on too.
    They have just started a new round two weeks ago, the next set will be in September.
    I want to bring a friend next week and apparently that will be ok.


  • #2


    whoo thanka alot , maybe i can join on , maybe i will see you there , well you will know me first if i am the only one joining :D


  • #2
    Seres wrote: »
    whoo thanka alot , maybe i can join on , maybe i will see you there , well you will know me first if i am the only one joining :D

    I'd get on to them fairly lively if I were you.
    You won't be with me though......I'm in the sinking section! :D


  • #2


    Hi, need a little help/advice.

    4 months ago i badly injured my knee and had an operation etc(i play a team sport at a pretty high level) and have only just been allowed to exercise again. As swimming is low impact i have decided to use it to get my fitness back and re build some muscle i've lost.

    I started swimming in a 25m pool bout a week ago and i've gone 4 time doing 50 laps in about 25 mins then i do a few 'sprints' at the end to get me puffing a bit. I feel im going at a decent pace and am really enjoying it(having not exercised in so long i'm loving the burn in my shoulders at the end of aswim). I can't swim breaststroke cuz of my knee so just swim freestyle. Does anyone know how this translates to running etc? i am feeling tired by the end of a swim but not as out of breath as i would be running. Also can i expect an increase in my strength doing what im doing and in what areas?

    Sorry to ask so many q's but want to make sure what im doing is worthwhile.

    cheers

    Ps i should mention i swan alot as a kid but gave up competitive stuff at about 13 to pllay other sports so my technique is fairly good(until the final 5 laps!)


  • #2


    In my experience, the translation of swimming fitness/ability to running doesn’t really happen. In swimming you aren’t supporting your full body weight and also the muscle groups being used are all over the body [obviously depending on your stroke].

    It is a great exercise for an all body work out and will defiantly help maintain some of your cardio fitness but I wouldn’t expect you to be able to go back to running and last your full match. From what you are saying, it seems that you are using your upper body strength to do the majority of the work [burning shoulders]. Or it may be that your legs have much more stamina so you’re feeling it in your upper body first? To build up your legs, I start to introduce some localised exercises for them. Try doing some kick and catch-up to complement your distance work. This will help you to develop your legs more and will hopefully be of much better benefit when you go back to your normal training.

    Make sure to ease in the kick as it can be quite tough and you don’t want to set yourself back any more.


  • #2
    Clseeper.

    I'm trying to get the front crawl.
    As soon as I try to bring the arms into it, I automatically stop kicking.
    Have you any tips?


  • #2


    Yeah, kick more :P

    This is a tough one and a common problem. It quite a skill and demonstration of coordination to try and kick while using your arms and then to try and kick ~3 times faster than the pace of your arms is the next one.

    There's not much you can really do apart from practice and perseverance. Maybe start with the kick and build up some speed and then bring in the arms but keep thinking about your legs.

    Potentially the catch-up drill could help, as long as you do it correctly. The catch-up drill is more for your legs. This could help get you used to the coordination of the arms and legs?


  • #2


    hows it going folks? i had lessons a while ago to learn to swim properly. i've been jumping off piers etc all my life so i don't really have a fear of the water (unless, of course, i fell out of a boat. miles from land. at night. jeeesus) anywho, my problem is i cant seem to swim for any decent length of time without having to stop to catch my breath. i'm not tired at this stage just really breathless. having read through the thread a couple of people have mentioned breathing too deeply. is this a common problem? at the minute i breathe on the fourth stroke. i've tried every second stroke and every third stroke but dont find any improvement.
    anyone got any tips?


  • #2


    No breathing too deeply is not a problem, as long as your mouth is clear of the water. Your lack of breath is just your fitness and your body saying you need air. It seems like you just need to improve your breathing technique and then you should see some real strides forward.

    Have a read of some of the threads on breathing and see if any apply to what you may be doing.


  • #2


    ok thanks for that. i had a look through some of the past threads and picked up a few pointers. at the moment i breathe out through my mouth, from what i've read i should probably be breathing out through my nose. i'll try it for a while anyway and see if i notice any changes


  • #2


    So after ten weeks, i should be able to thread water and swim 5 lengths? correct? is this the normal progression?


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