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Starting swimming, any advice?

Discussion in 'Sports Arena' started by Scam, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. Scam

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 20, 2002

    Posts: 12,401

    Location: London

    So, I've recently started a new job which for the first time for me is a 'proper' office job which means a fairly sedentary lifestyle during the day. The combination of recently graduating from my twenties :)(), having a bit more money to spend on food I enjoy, going out etc. is (possibly) already taking a hit on my health. Nothing major, I'm 5'10 and weigh around 10st but I just want to do a bit of cardio or something to lose the paunch and generally feel a bit healthier and energetic. Clearly, weightloss isn't my aim..

    Fortunately there's a gym literally over the road from my new place of work so I'm able to do a good 40mins swim in my lunch hour, probably a couple of times a week.

    So, I'm after some practical advice on swimming firstly. I've never done lane swimming before so I'm assuming I should be doing perhaps more than just 40mins of front crawl. Does it matter my technique probably isn't up to scratch? Hopefully that will improve with time.

    But also I'm wondering about lane swimming etiquette. It seems to be a complete minefield!! I was reading things online about dangling your legs in the pool whilst letting everyone in the lane swim past you once, so they know you're joining. Do people really do that? :confused: What are the big things I should avoid doing, I don't want to look like a total fool :p

    Also, will I see/feel good results going a couple of times a week? I was thinking that if I get on well with it I could possibly add the odd evening swim in before I head home.

    Thanks for any pointers! :)
     
  2. xdcx

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Apr 24, 2013

    Posts: 2,295

    Practice makes perfect. You will probably suck compared to everyone else at first but don't be put off. Swimming is 90% technique, stick at it and the gains you make if you swim consistently are amazing.

    Lane etiqutte. They should have signs in your pool telling you what theirs are specifically. They can differ so this is why most places will have a sign, give that a quick read. If there isn't one, just stand for a few minutes and see what others are doing.

    Putting your legs in and waiting, never heard of that or done it. If it is all lanes just time some of the groups if it is busy and go with the slowest moving lane of actual swimmers. Chances are they use the lanes in clockwise formattion, just get in a gap and get on with it, don't over think it. Don't jump in a lane full of very quick guys or in a lane full of women scared to get their hair wet. Take a few mins and suss out what is going on around about you and go where you think your ability suits.

    For starting out, if you are not a regular swimmer you are going to struggle to do 40 mins straight of crawl off the bat. Just go in and see how you feel first of all and build it up, worry about getting good technique and swimming well and efficiently before worrying about spending 22 mins and 45 mins in the pool. You need to establish where you are at first before worrying about the rest. The most important thing is to ENJOY it and have fun, if that element isn't there you aren't going to stick at it.

    2/3/4 time a week, if you do that consistently for a month and actually maintain it, you will absolutely see very positive results!

    Good luck and enjoy :)
     
  3. Scam

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 20, 2002

    Posts: 12,401

    Location: London

    Thanks. Yep in all reality I'm expecting to do probably one length, need a rest, then do another. Baby steps :p

    Realistically I'll plan to go twice a week with possibly one more if I fancy it. Hopefully I'll see some difference with that!

    Now all I need to do is buy some proper shorts and goggles. I'm guessing rocking up in my Quicksilver board shorts would be a mistake :p

    EDIT: Any advice on comfortable goggles? :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  4. xdcx

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Apr 24, 2013

    Posts: 2,295

    I just got Arena Cobra's and they are awesome! But they are very small sit inside the eye sockets if that makes sense, can get pretty sore on long swims but they are great!

    2/3 times a week is a good start man, if you do get into it and enjoy it you will find yourself wanting to go even more anyway so as you say, baby steps, take it easy and just enjoy it and see where it takes you :)
     
  5. Maccy

    Commissario

    Joined: Nov 23, 2004

    Posts: 34,112

    Location: Back in Blighty

    Enjoy it, I try to go at least twice a week. As said, don't expect to do 40 mins of front crawl straight away, I struggle to do 5 mins of front crawl - much prefer breaststroke.
     
  6. xdcx

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Apr 24, 2013

    Posts: 2,295

    Me too :) I do 1K breastroke 5 times a week. I started 3 weeks ago and done 1K in 28:29 and yesterday after work done it in 25:49. Just pure improvement of technique, so that's what I am saying stick at it and in no time you see amazing gains purely from swimming more efficiently.
     
  7. Jonny69

    Man of Honour

    Joined: May 3, 2004

    Posts: 17,639

    Location: Kapitalist Republik of Surrey

    Technique is really where it's at with front crawl. I really struggle through it when I do triathlons and I really need to get some coaching to make it easier. You get much better at it quite quickly though, after a month you'll be able to swim non-stop for 40 minutes.

    Never heard of lane etiquette really. I just join a gap in the medium lane. If you need to stop then just stop at the end on the side that you'd start swimming from, then anyone behind you can see what you're doing.
     
  8. pumaz

    Soldato

    Joined: Oct 7, 2003

    Posts: 5,555

    Location: Nottingham

    i do an hour none stop breast stroke once a week, when i first started i couldn't do more rhan a couple of lengths but what really helped me was pacing myself with another swimmer. An old chap at my baths would just swim up and down none stop so i decided to just try and keep pace with him, struggled at first but it really helped :)
     
  9. PermaBanned

    Capodecina

    Joined: Jul 7, 2009

    Posts: 16,238

    Location: Newcastle/Aberdeen

    That sounds like good advice. One of my (many) issues is that i panic and feel like i have to put a crazy amount of effort through my arms and legs in order to not drown. In reality you hardly need to move at all. Definitely worth looking at some total immersion videos on youtube.
     
  10. wonko

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jul 21, 2008

    Posts: 1,335

    Location: Outside the asylum

    Just back from an hour in the pool :)
    As others have said, I'd suggest starting slow and building up over time. There are some good websites on technique which are worth a look if you want to try to avoid getting into bad habits. If you ask the lifeguards they may be able to give tips and advice too.
    As for etiquette, the main thing is probably just to be conscious of others and try not to get in the way if you can help it by letting the faster swimmers past.
    For goggles I use Speedo Futura Biofuse which are quite large (I find smaller ones either leak or are uncomfortable pressing on the eye).
    Stick with it for a few weeks, get chatting with the regulars, and you'll probably get hooked.
     
  11. Dano

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Dec 19, 2006

    Posts: 9,108

    Location: UK

    This times a billion, there is nothing more frustrating than having ignorant people swimming in your lane and it will just get you nowhere.

    Goggles; you'll have to a try a few to find the ones that suit, I find the smaller ones that fit in the eye socket best, none of them ever seem to have any anti-fog coating that ever lasts more than a few swims though.

    www.swimsmooth.com has a lot of advice, which I hope is good, they even have a little app thing that you can download to check out what they advise to be the best freestyle stroke technique.

    Once you can do fifteen or twenty lengths it'll just be determination keeping you from more until you reach failure point or cramp sets in, that first chunk is always the hardest :)
     
  12. xdcx

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Apr 24, 2013

    Posts: 2,295

    Since posting my advice in this thread I have had nothing other than village idiots in the lane at the pool all week just making trying to get my session done a total nightmare. I am sure that there is a special place reserved in hell for these ignorant people who have no idea how to read a sign for lane etiquette and apply some basic levels of common sense.

    The above is a generic swimmmer rant I am sure every swimmer has had 10+ times :p
     
  13. wonko

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jul 21, 2008

    Posts: 1,335

    Location: Outside the asylum

    I suppose there's a risk of turning this thread into a vent from the regular swimmers, but in the spirit of helping (honest!) I'll list a few of my annoyances. My local pool has a couple of lanes roped off but the average speed doesn't normally suit me so I mostly plough up and down in the open part of the pool.

    swimming with eyes closed
    taking up more pool width than needed
    drifting from side to side
    groups of friends swimming side-by-side
    nattering at the ends and not letting others get to the wall to turn
    deciding to start a length into a gap made as a faster swimmer starts to turn so they are immediately blocked
    stopping and standing up for no reason
    being followed by someone right behind you so you can't turn
    swimming breaststroke with arms as wide as they'll go
    backstroke in a busy pool
    lack of appreciation that people swimming freestyle aren't looking forwards all the time

    And my personal favourite:
    making the water taste of cigarettes (urgh!)

    OP, don't let this put you off - we all pay the same money to be in the pool and I doubt any regulars really mind yielding / being blocked occasionally as long as they feel others are making an effort.
     
  14. fire_munki

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jun 25, 2005

    Posts: 1,071

    This made me think I should start swimming regularly. used to randomly go when I was a gym member.

    For someone who climbs 2 or 3 times a week and hikes a fair bit, but doesn't do a lot other cardio what would a good time to exercise for to begin with?
     
  15. Scam

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 20, 2002

    Posts: 12,401

    Location: London

    Heh, yeah I think I made my usual mistake of trying to find out as much as I can before I even step foot inside. Problem is all you find online is people complaining about others and the 'etiquette'. Didn't help that I listen to Richard Herring's podcast and he had a 10minute rant about it too :D

    Thanks for all the pointers people!

    So, next question.. long shorts, medium Bond-pants or speedos? :D
     
  16. xdcx

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Apr 24, 2013

    Posts: 2,295

    fire_munki, just swim or do an exercise you think you will enjoy. your fitness in other things does not matter, just jump into it and havd a few trial swims and see how you enjoy it and what you are capable of. Nobody can tell you if you SHOULD be doing 10mins or 1 hour as there is no answer really. Totally personal :)

    Scam, I have these and they are sport on! - http://www.wiggle.co.uk/adidas-tech-range-jammer-ss15/
     
  17. Jonny69

    Man of Honour

    Joined: May 3, 2004

    Posts: 17,639

    Location: Kapitalist Republik of Surrey

    That Total Immersion technique looks good - I'm going to give it a try when I next get back in the pool.

    Anyone have any good tips on breathing with front crawl? I just don't seem to be able to get my face out the water far enough without breathing in loads of water.
     
  18. MoDe

    Hitman

    Joined: Feb 2, 2012

    Posts: 790

    Location: Newcastle UK

    Not going to be much help. But I wen't once while a member at a council gym, this massive guy probably in his 50's. Absolute machine, obviously swam regularly. I stayed out of the lane and just did a few lengths while he must have been up and down none stop about 10 times. His technique was insane for such a big bloke, glided through the water like echo the dolphin.

    Be careful the S doesn't fall off ;)
     
  19. OspreyO

    Mobster

    Joined: Dec 12, 2006

    Posts: 3,027

    I think its worth while doing an advanced swimming class. If you pick up bad habits in your stroke, its very hard to change it. Or do what I did which was make an injury worse by strengthening the wrong muscles.

    What I did was watch the best swimmers in the pool and try and copy their movements. They tend to be the smoothest swimmers the ones that make it look effortless.
     
  20. Maccy

    Commissario

    Joined: Nov 23, 2004

    Posts: 34,112

    Location: Back in Blighty

    Yeh it's been terrible this week, but then I remembered it's half term. Normal service will hopefully resume next week.