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Starting swimming, any advice?

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

  1. NoNameNoNumber

    Mobster

    Joined: Nov 25, 2009

    Posts: 4,620

    Did 1 lap today (800m) and about to start my second. Saw a biiiiig eel snaking along the lake bottom about 8' below me. He was easily 4' long and 3" thick. That was me done for the day!
     
  2. DazQ87

    Wise Guy

    Joined: May 6, 2011

    Posts: 1,317

    Location: Milton Keynes

    Having been involved with swimming for the better part of 15 years now, I decided to get back into competing by doing some open water races. Until recently I had been doing 1-2 sessions in the pool per week to maintain technique and I help coach at the local swimming club which keeps my hand in.

    I have started doing a lot of training outdoors, there is a nice lake at Bedford I can practice in to get used to the cold (I don't own a wetsuit and I don't plan on racing in one any time soon) and to get my endurance up.

    Anyway had a go at a 5k swim last weekend managed a nice 91 minutes bang on. Which I was pretty happy with considering it was raining, the water was pretty chilly and it was so windy the waves were comparably to sea swimming.

    I have my first 10k race next weekend and I'm starting to think about nutrition, mostly during the swim, a bit of research indicates that I need to be consuming 60grams of carbs per hour after the first 90 minutes. Which means I need to stock up on some energy gels, and get my missus to pass them out to me on a fishing rod or something.

    Hopefully I can get around in under 3h15 but we'll see.

    If anybody has any dietary advice for what to be eating in preparation for a 3hour endurance event I'm open to suggestions.
     
  3. R0B75

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 15, 2003

    Posts: 5,673

    Location: Derby

    Lots of people making great progress in here. Good work!

    Had a busy summer this year but all the pool training from the last year, learning how to swim from pretty much nothing and then getting to grips with open water has paid off. I've completed 10 practice triathlon events with Derby Tri Club, all part of their club member only summer series, the Jenson Button Tri (Super Sprint), Wales Triathlon (Sprint with sea swim), Blithfield Triathlon (Olympic), Derby Triathlon (Sprint) and the inter-club Aquathlon at Blithfield which our club won (yay!). I'd never have though that I'd do so much in the space of a year but I've loved every minute of it.

    Now looking towards next year and of course another winter's training first. I will be looking at doing mainly middle distance triathlon next year, although I haven't decided which ones yet. The only event I'm definitely doing is the Slateman full, which is just a bit shorter than a half ironman.

    I'm still working on my swimming, mainly with the club, and have definitely improved and got stronger. I'm never going to be really quick at swimming but little-by-little I'm knocking chunks off my 250m and 400m times. I also feel I can swim further too and tonight I did my longest ever swim without stopping, in fact I think it's my longest swim overall. 3250m, so basically 2 miles or 130 lengths of the 25m pool. Really enjoyed it and felt I had more in the tank. I think I'd have carried on but had a bit of a sore neck. That's given me a lot of confidence that I will actually be able to do middle distance, maybe more....
     
  4. abui1806

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Mar 5, 2014

    Posts: 1,130

    Location: Southampton

    This motivates me to start swimming again after a long hiatus. I've been swimming in my hometown's beach lately but I guess swimming in a pool is better to keep track of myself
     
  5. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 28,935


    Utterly insane, 10K swimming. Most people can't run that far:D

    Energy gels are going to be your best bet. Your body has a maxim absorption rate for sugars, so basically you want o eat as much as you can but keeping well below that limit (otherwise it sits in your stomach and you will throw up). You will want to practice eating gels and trying different brands and flavors to see what works for you. Different brands can conyian different ratios of glucose/dextose/fructose, some contain more or less salts, some contain caffeine. I use GLU for running.

    You don't want to wait 90 minutes before consuming, you need to be consuming them constantly trying to replace lost sugar. You will be burning more energy than you can consume so the last thing you want is a deficit. If you wait until you feel tired and low energy its too late, especially considering it will take around 15 minutes before you have processed the sugars.


    Fluids- You will need to keep hydrated and I'm not sure drinking lake water is that advisable. This is where sports drinks come in, again more sources of sugar and salts. not sure what swimmers do about this.

    You will likely also want to carb load in the days before the race. Lots of low fiber carbs. pasta, rice, cake, doughnuts. Time to enjoy yourself.




    The last issue is pacing. The harder you work the less oxygen you have in your blood, and burning fat for energy requires more oxygen than glycogen. You have unlimited supplies of fat (even if super lean you probably have ens of thousands of calories to burn) but only around 2500 calories glycogen. If you go slightly too fast at the start of an endurance event you will deplete your glycogen stores quicker and suffer a lot at the end, e.g. hit the wall. Going a little slower at the start will ensure you use more fat and have more glycogen reserves which will prevent any disastrous finish but will also allow faster finishing. there will also be benefits in muscle fatigue.
     
  6. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 28,935



    Great stufff.

    i'm still working on my swim. It kind of progresses slowly. A cases of 2 steps forward, 1 step back a lot of the time.

    Hoping for some steady improvements in the next months then i will look at signing up for a half IM next summer.
     
  7. R0B75

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 15, 2003

    Posts: 5,673

    Location: Derby

    Progression is progression though so that's positive, but why do you feel you are taking a step back at times? I never really feel that way, just like I'm not making progress as quickly as I'd like sometimes or just have a swim where I feel really tired.

    What has helped me most is moving out of the novice lane with the tri club and doing harder and more technical drills with a couple of very slight tweaks in my stroke. I've seen more progress in the last 2 months than I did in probably the previous 6.
     
  8. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 28,935



    I tend swim the same 90x25=2250yd distance each time in 10 length sets (although will be smaller sets as I get tired, and sometimes will go for a 500 yd set). I time myself as a measure of progress.

    What tend to happen is i slowly get a little faster over a period of 6 weeks or more but then can't hit the pool for a bit (vacation, etc.). Then when i go back I find my swim times have increased a lot. e..g I will be around 54minutes for the 2250yds and very slowly work my way down to 49 minutes, chipping of 10-20seoncd a time. OF course with some variance, maybe slower by a minute 1 time or another but that is all fine. When I get back to the poll after a break the swim times are right back at 54 minutes and I spend the next weeks trying to get it back down.

    Back in May I could do 90lengths in 49 minutes, took a month off due birth of 2nd child. Got back and was swimming 55 minutes. By Early august I hit 49 minutes again. Went on vacation for 3 weeks and couldn't swim. Git back tot he pool and I was doing 55 minutes. Over the last 3 weeks I'm back down to 52 minutes.


    There are other metrics I look at. E.g. the 10 length set, I would get these down to 4 minutes 30-40secs for my initial sets. But now i find it almost impossible to get under 5 minutes. There is also the consistency of the sets, now I have a big fade.


    What is more frustrating Is I don' really understand where the gains or losses are coming from. There must be very subtle changes in technique that are hard to pick up on.
     
  9. R0B75

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 15, 2003

    Posts: 5,673

    Location: Derby

    Have you thought about joining a local Tri club who do coached swimming? It sounds like you would benefit from it as I have.

    Seems like periods of inactivity that's slowing your progress though, which is understandable, I haven't gone more than 2 weeks without a swim since I started last August. There's also diet and resting, are you eating enough, getting enough sleep? A new child can cause havoc with sleeping and eating patterns. Don't be too hard on yourself.
     
  10. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 28,935

    I really do need to get some lessons but the difficulty is time. At least at the moment swimming is not a priority. if I can get a bit better I can get free Masters lesson that fit slightly better with my schedule (well, they are at 6am). But I need to be able to swim 3000yd in an hour, comfortably.

    The inactivity is hard to avoid, again since swimming is not my priority right now. Its just surprising how big an effect it is having. If i go 2 weeks without running I will come back fitter and faster than ever, even binge drinking and stuffing myself on vacation. Go 2 weeks without swimming and I've just lost the plot.


    its not diet, i eat a lot of carbs and I'm constantly trying to maximize my glycogen storage. back up with plenty of protein and fats for muscle repair. Sleep is of course variable and is definitely the reason for a lousy swim yesterday but ti isn't to blame in general.

    The reason is most liekly purely down to technique. There isn't a physiological reason why I can loose so much swim performance within a few weeks, but subtle changes to technique can. Swimming is so much about technique it can be very frustrating. There is a 60year old overweight women who I see at the pool lot, she races past me effortlessly. Out of the pool she waddles around like a sea lion.
     
  11. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 28,935

    I'm like the guy on the boom of this video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s3qZ_XnlCQ

    Actually I'm a little better than that but that is the kind of compromise that strikes me. If you compare an Olympic distance runner and a novice the gait is pretty much the same, the only difference betting the pro has stronger legs and a higher VO2Max.
     
  12. R0B75

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 15, 2003

    Posts: 5,673

    Location: Derby

    Interesting video that. I was like that one at the bottom all the time, sometimes still am when I get really tired, but slowly I am becoming the one at the top. As I said, the last 2 months have seen the most progress.

    The biggest factor is likely technique. I know if I go a week without swimming I almost forget how to swim and it takes a few lengths (sometimes more) to remember everything.
     
  13. ChroniC

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 8,879

    My only two pence into technical swimming most likely is wrong, but I base it on physics. I myself, lock my knees and make my legs rigid when kicking. I assume that the thigh being the power house, must be able to stroke without the knee bending. I feel that energy is lost and you can hurt yourself but letting you lower legs flex and be limp in the water. It seems to me that all the power will be transfered on the knee joint and some into the feet, but no where near the power when rigid. With it flexing your knee socket will be fighting against the water and causing injury.
     
  14. DazQ87

    Wise Guy

    Joined: May 6, 2011

    Posts: 1,317

    Location: Milton Keynes

    So I should probably post an update as I did the swim almost a month ago now. I crossed the line and ran up the bank in 2h 58 mins very chuffed to have beaten the 3 hour mark.

    My pacing alright, I did the first 5k in 1hour 35 mins, and upped my pace significantly at the end, making my second 5k 1 hour 23 or so.

    Stopped for gels and water twice, each lap was 2.5k so I stopped on the second and third lap. I couldn't bring myself to stop on the last lap it was a "just keep swimming" mentality.

    Water was a rather warm 20c which is great as I don't own a wetsuit.

    No more open water swims for me this season, I'm going to do a bit of sprint training over the winter months and have another go at getting a PB in the 400IM and 400 freestyle.
     
  15. Flukester

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Nov 1, 2007

    Posts: 4,399

    Location: Christchurch UK

    How's everyones swimming going ?, I've been swimming 4-5 times a week for about a year now. My garmin gave me a ton of stats...

    513KM
    20,512 lengths
    635,872 strokes
    189hrs swim time (8 days)
    5hr in pool not swimming (wtf was i doing!)
    164,000 cals burnt (that's 270 bottles of wine or 334 big macs)

    I've lost almost 2.5st so now cutting back a little and adding in some weights, HIIT, and hopefully some running new year.
     
  16. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 28,935

    Still not much progress but I'm sticking at the 2-3 times a week. Trying a few different training strategies, so now I will do some longer sets of 500-100 yards and then some faster intervals, e.g. 50 yard repeats.
     
  17. jpaul

    Soldato

    Joined: Mar 1, 2010

    Posts: 5,858

    Flukester, so what kind of improvement have you seen with that workload, has that been your goal ? interesting stats though - never thought of km/yr but averaging half that with a couple of hour visits a week.
    I am still waiting for a robust swim heart rate monitor (resurrecting a comment I made earlier)
     
  18. Slinkie

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Oct 21, 2002

    Posts: 1,674

    Location: UK

    Hi all,

    I am recently getting into swimming after deciding to do a half iron man in may next year. I can do the distance easily at the moment (2km in 50mins this morning) but this is breast stroke. My front crawl is awful and I need to improve as it's a lot more efficient.

    I don't want to join a regular swimming club as my schedule varies and my training has to adjust a lot. My choices are teach my self in which case I need drills to help me perfect the stroke or try and find someone who can do one on one training.

    What would you suggest?
     
  19. R0B75

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 15, 2003

    Posts: 5,673

    Location: Derby

    I started swimming about 15 months ago and initially I thought I'd just teach myself, but I just wasn't making progress.

    Join a triathlon club. Seriously, I'd never have been able to improve as much as I have since I've been swimming without regular training in the pool and open water with my club. My club does drills which focus on both strength and technique and it changes each session. This week I did my first ever CSS test, and surprised myself how quickly I can swim now compared to where I started. 7:41 for 400m, 3:42 for 200m.

    I don't know if you are a triathlete anyway but there's so much more to learn about triathlon than good swimming technique. I've learned so much this year (my first in tri) which would not have been possible without a club.
     
  20. IndigoGorilla

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Feb 12, 2011

    Posts: 1,892

    Location: Manchester

    My swimming is a bit hit and miss at the moment. Went swimming on Sunday and had a mild panic attack when I failed to warm up properly, became a little bit anxious after just two lengths (50m pool) and considered getting out and going home. :( Managed to convince myself to stay until the end of at least the first set (plan was 3x10lengths), breathing became more relaxed as I calmed myself down and the following sets actually went really well and I was happy with my speed for both and technique felt decent enough.

    Went swimming again on Thursday evening and went for the same plan again, spent more time doing breaststroke to get my heartrate elevated and my breathing settled before starting my front crawl. Got on much better mentally, no panic or anxiety and managed a similar time to Sundays swim so I'm happy with the consistency.

    Been swimming about a year now and it's the second panic/anxiety attack I've had due to breathing issues and not being in the right place mentally. The first time it happened I couldn't deal with it though and got out of the pool and went for something to eat.