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Improving/Learning to swim

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,305 ✭✭✭Green Hornet


    reganovich wrote: »
    So after ten weeks, i should be able to thread water and swim 5 lengths? correct? is this the normal progression?
    From my own experience it took me longer than that to swim 5 lengths but I suppose it depends how fit you are and how much practice you put in. I guess everybody is different.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,096 ✭✭✭ImDave


    I have been swimming on and off for fitness for the last year. I would like to make swimming my main sport, possibly joining an amateur club. I am a member in the local private leisure centre, and also in the 50m pool in University of Limerick. What I am wondering is what gym work can I do to improve my swimming. From watching the olympics, I see they do a lot of back work. Is this where the power comes from? Any advice much appreciated!


  • Registered Users Posts: 282 ✭✭Clseeper


    This depends a lot on what part of which stroke you’re looking to improve on. There are a lot of different ideas on what’s best. I’ll admit it not an area I’m an expert in.

    I think the main components are the core strength and stability and then focus on some individual areas. If you’re looking at front crawl, I’d focus on triceps, shoulders & forearms. But that would be my weaker points, it depends on your stroke and where you need work. Talk to the gym instructors or do some research on the net for an interesting variety of exercises you can do.

    I’d nearly focus on basic overall strength, flexibility [Key] and core work [mainly abs, obliques and back]. Then as you find your faults or weaker areas, work on them.


  • Registered Users Posts: 278 ✭✭ladytri


    [QUOTE SERES
    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
    [/QUOTE]

    Hi Seres
    Couldn't help but notice your post...
    I'm a member of the Lough Key Tri club and I'm guessing its our tri you're training for in sept? Anyway even if it isn't-we meet every Wed at 7pm and Sun at 10am for a swim in Lough Key and you're more than welcome to join us to experience swimming in open water.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 32 haze,


    Hi, just wondering if anyone has any advice please. I'm not a bad swimmer and would like to get into going more often- 3 times a week maybe, but I'm really unfit and would like to know what kind of training I should be doing to improve my fitness eg combinations of strokes and number of lengths?:confused: I'll be going to a 25m pool. Thanks


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  • Registered Users Posts: 282 ✭✭Clseeper


    Haze,

    It really depends on what you’re working towards. If it’s just fitness, then you could just focus on front crawl and mid to long distance. There’re some interesting threads at the moment on different sets, you could take a look at them.

    Essentially the aim would be to get an initial marker of your current ability and then improve on that. You could try a simple set of 6x50m fc and just record what rough times your doing them on. Then steadily increase the distance and decrease the time as you improve.

    For aerobic fitness, aim to increase the distance first then drop the times. From the 50’s, increase to 8x50 then 10x50, then try 4x100m, 6x100m etc. Sets of ~200m would be considered middle distance and anything above 400m would be long distance.

    Times: Do a 50m at a steady pace and see what you come in on. Add ~20secs and take this as your first time for the 50’s. For example if your do your first 50m in 1 min, take the 20 sec rest and do the next 5 on 1.20. You’ll get the most rest at the starting ones and then as you get tired and your stroke gets sloppy, your 50m will get slower. This means that as the set progresses you’ll get less and less rest. This is forcing your body to adapt and improve your fitness so next time you’ll do better.

    While this is to improve fitness, it should be fun and enjoyable. So make sure to throw in some drills, different strokes and some sprint to keep things different and interesting.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 32 haze,


    Thanks a mil for the advice. At least I have a goal to aim for now!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2 CiaranDowney


    Great to read all the positivity in this thread, and thanks Clseeper for the pointers and advice. I never learned to swim as a kid and only took some lessons over ten years ago and they were really poor and didn't help. Every time I go on holidays with my kids, the eldest of whom swims well, I keep promising myself that I'll have learned by the next time we go on holidays. But I never do. I have no problem being in the pool and can usually flail across it with my head down, legs a-kicking and mostly arms pulling me to the other side. But I end up having to keep my head down so it's a case of getting as far over as one breath'll carry me. Hardly the best of techniques. Anyway, this time I've made up my mind that I'm starting lessons. I just don't know where. Living in Dublin (Knocklyon) gives me a fair range of choices but I wondered if anyone had any particular recommendations for the best adult classes. As I said above, my earlier experience was crap and I don't want to waste time or money on substandard lessons. Also, how much practice should I try and put in between lessons – and is it essential? I only ask because it's not always easy to find the time and if I bring the three kids along, my time is usually spent with them. All suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!


  • Registered Users Posts: 282 ✭✭Clseeper


    It’s a personal hate of mine, people teaching swimming who haven’t a clue. These are normally the fitness instructors who have never swam, and can just about do it themselves, but have it as a qualification because it was being done on their course and it is easier to get a job with it.

    I have no real experiences with pools or teachers in that area so can’t help, sorry. You could try and get a pool which has a swimming club in it. That way there is more chance that the teachers have swam and come up through the club. The older, well established pool as opposed to the Westwood, Jackie Scelly’s etc.

    From what you describe, you have water confidence and aren’t really starting from scratch so it’s mainly stroke correction and breathing you need to work on. Is extra practice essential, no, but it’ll depend on how well you take instruction [and how good the instruction is] and how you adapt it. Obviously the more practice you do, the better.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭Notch000


    Hi im a pretty decent swimmer, i could always swim a lenght or so , but about 2 year ago i took lessons and a little self teaching myself to go propper, i can now do around 30-50 a session, mabye more. I've done 100+ plenty of times before, but my issue is i've never got past the medioaker stage, i can swim set of 6-10 but no more,
    I did nt swim for 6 months there and after joining a new gym im nearly back to sq 1.
    I have been working on my technique, body position and roll etc but i dont think im ever going to be as smooth as the 'good' swimmer i share lanes with.
    Im pretty lazy generally but do push myself in the pool. Im struggeling with my tempo and steady breathing rather than fittness, I think this is holding me back.........where do i go from here ??????

    Question 2, if im swimming one night and knackered the next, I usually tell myself there no need to go swimming again as this will do more harm than good, is this true or just pussy talk ??????? I dont want to get injured like i've done before running, I try go 3 times a week usually mainly during the week.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 681 ✭✭✭Killgore Trout


    Three sessions a week is good. If you're feeling wrecked the next day it may not be a great idea to train some more - it is possible to get injuries.

    Any clubs around? Even if you got one club session and trained on your own for the other two it should help you build your stamina.

    I take it you're talking about a 25m pool?

    What kind of time you spending on your sessions? How are they structured? Do you swim against the clock? How long are you resting between sets? etc...

    Some people recommend books like Total Immersion to improve technique - I have read it myself and have found parts of it useful (though I wouldn't classify myself as a TI zealot)


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭Notch000


    I dont time my set, i usually do set of around 6-10 and take a breather in between, usually spending around 30-40 mins in the pool. I'l have to look up this total immersion book


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 38 cheerireland


    This is really a cool post.

    I am actually looking for adult lessons in Dublin and looking to start them asap? Any one know any good teachers in Dublin for a 1-2-1 Adult lesson.


  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭Fluffybums


    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?
    Definately keep at it. I used to belong to a Life Saving club where one of the members, in her late 50s to early 60s at the time, had learnt to swim about 5 years before I got to know her. When I knew her she had just passed her Lifesaving Award of Merit and was working toward her Distinction, the highest award the RLSS gave at the time. So you are never too old!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,305 ✭✭✭Green Hornet


    Fluffybums wrote: »
    Definately keep at it. I used to belong to a Life Saving club where one of the members, in her late 50s to early 60s at the time, had learnt to swim about 5 years before I got to know her. When I knew her she had just passed her Lifesaving Award of Merit and was working toward her Distinction, the highest award the RLSS gave at the time. So you are never too old!
    Will do :).

    Wow, thats a fantastic achievement!

    I do 40 lengths (25m pool) 3 days a week now. I'm slow as hell (ca. 30mins) but reasonably steady. Trying to convince myself to increase the lengths but I get a bit bored by the end of the session :(.

    What I'm really trying to concentrate on now is stroke improvement. I do 20-21 per 25m but I know that's not great so I'm trying to reduce that. :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,754 ✭✭✭ianmc38


    I'm looking for advice as well. I've reasonably good cardio fitness and am just starting to do some swimming training. I am technically able tos wim, but my technique and everything else is terrible. I'm living ina complex that has a 25M pool so I plan on swimming every day before I start working. Can someone give me pointers on the ebst way to increase endurance/improve my stroke etc?

    Thanks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 282 ✭✭Clseeper


    This is a tough one as we have no idea what your stroke is like? The big thing that most people could do with improving is their stroke length on frontcrawl. There are a few threads on this. Basically trying to get through the length in the least number of strokes possible. Make sure to keep your hand just below the surface as you slide forward and extend your arm as much as possible. Your whole body and even hips can rotate slightly to enable this. I sometimes even tell some of my swimmers to touch their shoulder off their chin to emphasize this.

    Other than that, make sure to set targets that you can see the improvement which will help keep up the motivation.

    The issue with swimming is the discontinuity between what you think you are doing and what you actually are. That's why its great to get someone to look at your strokes. Even just one lesson once in a while to give you some pointers to go off and work on and then come back for the rest.

    Good Luck


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,075 ✭✭✭BendiBus


    Clseeper wrote: »
    I sometimes even tell some of my swimmers to touch their shoulder off their chin to emphasize this.

    I once went for several weeks wondering what disease was causing bright red marks on the front of my shoulders. I eventually realised it was beard rash from swimming :D


  • Registered Users Posts: 19,502 ✭✭✭✭Krusty_Clown


    Hi there, I did lessons as a child, and gave up before I ever had a chance to become a proficient swimmer. I am now taking lessons again, and hope to be able to swim competently. I have done two lessons recently, but on both occasions have suffered from calf cramps. Any suggestions on how I can avoid these? Any truth about eating within a few hours of swimming or is this a wives' tail?! I normally do a lot of running, but returning to swimming is a recent development. Thanks much!


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,625 ✭✭✭AngryHippie


    Stretching will help, After about 10 minutes of swimming, stop and do a full set of stretches, this will hold off the cramp for a while (hopefully long enough to finish your set, or lesson) Once you've built up some distance, try a little bit of work with fins, and some legs only work to improve your LME (local muscular endurance) this will help more in the long run. and eat a banana a few hours before, and keep hydrated.
    Enjoy


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  • Registered Users Posts: 19,502 ✭✭✭✭Krusty_Clown


    Thanks AngryHippie. I've been stretching the calf muscles when arriving back at the wall, for the next bit of wisdom. My calf muscles normally get a good workout as I've been doing a lot of marathon training over the last year, but I guess swimming may exert a different kind of pressure on these muscles?!

    I might skip the evening meal the next time, and try a banana instead.


  • Registered Users Posts: 282 ✭✭Clseeper


    Krusty Clown,

    I find it quite strange that you’re getting cramps in your calf considering you’re a runner. In general, running would work the calf muscles much harder than swimming.

    Not sure about the wives tale or not? I never had any issue and took it as a stitch as opposed to an actual muscle cramp?

    AngryHippe’s advice regarding stretching and the hydration are probably the right way to go. Make sure you are doing the correct strech for the muscle which is cramping. There are numerous muscles beside the standard calf stretch. The banana would be your potassium source, basically a salt which will aid hydration. So the water is the important one.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 95 ✭✭Rej


    Clseeper wrote: »
    Krusty Clown,

    I find it quite strange that you’re getting cramps in your calf considering you’re a runner. In general, running would work the calf muscles much harder than swimming.

    Not sure about the wives tale or not? I never had any issue and took it as a stitch as opposed to an actual muscle cramp?

    AngryHippe’s advice regarding stretching and the hydration are probably the right way to go. Make sure you are doing the correct strech for the muscle which is cramping. There are numerous muscles beside the standard calf stretch. The banana would be your potassium source, basically a salt which will aid hydration. So the water is the important one.
    Im getting a similar problem.. Whenever i do the backstroke I get a cramp in my right calf.. When i took swimming lessons, I was inclined to swim diagonally, cos my left leg is stronger. Since then I have concentrated on working my right leg to try and swim straight.. But this results in cramps.. I have tried stretching before swimming, but it doesnt make any difference.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2 Gold16


    Moonbaby wrote: »
    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?
    I learned to swim 2 years ago. It took me a while to get the hang of it. It pays to take it slow and not put too much pressure on yourself or set a time limit in which to learn. After a while it all just comes together. Even after 10 weeks I think you will notice a big improvement. Well done for starting to learn.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14 speedo


    Just a few thoughts on learning. There is no age limit on learning to swim, equally there is no age limit on retiring. There are quite a few open sea swimmers taking part in the races who are in their sixties and indeed even a couple in their seventies. I know quite a few swimmers who did not learn to swim in their youth and are quite useful now.
    Do not measure your performance against others when starting to swim, everybody is different, the important thing is to stick with it and dont give up.
    For the front crawl most beginners think moving the arms as fast as possible is the way to go...It is not. A relaxed long stroke is what's needed. Breathing has to be worked into the stroke, it takes time to get it right but its worth it as most learners tire quickly because they are holding their breath. The body must be streamlined to make good progress; which means the hips and legs should be high in the water. If the feet lying deep in the water the body will be offering too much resistance to the water. Kicking on the bar or using a float helps to get the hips and legs up. There are plenty of good books available which have underwater photos demonstrating technique. The web site www.totalimmersion.co.uk is a good site for swimmers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 601 ✭✭✭lester76


    This is a cool thread, i have lived by the sea my whole life an to my total shame:o i cant swim my 15yr old lad is like a fish in the water and id love to be able to join him in the pool on hols etc. Anyone know of a good instructor in waterford?? Maybe i should post it in the waterford forum:)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2 thesmurph


    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....


    Hey i know a coach who is willing to do 1-2-1 sessions and is a member of westwood (Clontarf) also. I can get you in contact with him if you like? He can coach you from the deck as he is a 'member' after all. He's an incredible coach. Helped so many beginners. He's actually an ex-olympian and also coached some of the fastest Irish swimmers in his time. He's incredible for stroke technique, fitness/endurance etc.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,625 ✭✭✭AngryHippie


    Rej wrote: »
    Im getting a similar problem.. Whenever i do the backstroke I get a cramp in my right calf.. When i took swimming lessons, I was inclined to swim diagonally, cos my left leg is stronger. Since then I have concentrated on working my right leg to try and swim straight.. But this results in cramps.. I have tried stretching before swimming, but it doesnt make any difference.


    The 3rd way, its a bit painfull in the short term, but the long term benefits are worth it, because your calf muscles won't cause you problems in the pool for a good while, Buy a small set of pool fins, use them for 10-15 minutes during your normal swim, get on a bicycle or excercise bike for an hour a week and stretch gently after both of these. give it a few weeks, they will be tight, and tender for a while, stretch them when warm from excercise, no cold stretching. maybe 6 or 8 weeks later, you'll find the problem diminishing. It worked on mine over the course of 3 months, a few years back, I reckon it sort of balanced out the muscles and strenghtened them while the swimming kept them supple. Well worth it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 649 ✭✭✭K09


    Hi,
    I took 6 weeks group lessons a year ago and while I can manage the breaststroke I cannot for the life of it get the front stroke.
    I cannot time the breathing right and find it difficult to coordinate everything.

    Any advice?

    Thanks


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  • Registered Users Posts: 535 ✭✭✭bob50


    Hi there im in the same boat as yourself can manage the breastroke just! but the front crawl cant going right at all anybody any tips


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