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lph
10-25-2011, 10:41 AM
First class yesterday.

I can do a pretty decent breaststroke, and my current farthest length is 1800 m. Got bored, and the pool got full. I'm never been a natural swimmer, a bit scared of deep water as a child, a lot more comfortable since I tried scuba diving and I absolutely love snorkeling. But I still have this weird instinct to breathe sharply in through my nose under water, so I've resigned to wearing a nose clip.

Anyway. About time to learn freestyle, like the real swimmers ;) Lordy. He had us practicing leg kicks while holding a floaty thingy in front of us. I was kicking my big strong biker legs like crazy, and I swear, I didn't budge from the spot...

It improved a bit once we tried doing the same thing with our heads under water, holding our breath. At least I drifted slowly along. And once we got to use fins I was rocketing across the pool. But I have to learn a decent kick without relying on fins!

And that was the 30 minutes up. I'm sure you can't wait to hear my report from the next class :D

salsabike
10-25-2011, 12:42 PM
I can swim a mile or more in freestyle at a moderately decent pace, also have strong legs, and STILL can barely move forward with just a kickboard. It has something to do with body position, I think. So don't let that bother you too much---you'll still be able to swim well.


First class yesterday.

I can do a pretty decent breaststroke, and my current farthest length is 1800 m. Got bored, and the pool got full. I'm never been a natural swimmer, a bit scared of deep water as a child, a lot more comfortable since I tried scuba diving and I absolutely love snorkeling. But I still have this weird instinct to breathe sharply in through my nose under water, so I've resigned to wearing a nose clip.

Anyway. About time to learn freestyle, like the real swimmers ;) Lordy. He had us practicing leg kicks while holding a floaty thingy in front of us. I was kicking my big strong biker legs like crazy, and I swear, I didn't budge from the spot...

It improved a bit once we tried doing the same thing with our heads under water, holding our breath. At least I drifted slowly along. And once we got to use fins I was rocketing across the pool. But I have to learn a decent kick without relying on fins!

And that was the 30 minutes up. I'm sure you can't wait to hear my report from the next class :D

VeganBikeChick
10-25-2011, 06:28 PM
I can't propel myself with my legs to save my life. Give me some fins and my arms and it's a completely different story. Glad to hear I'm not alone. :)

Selkie
10-26-2011, 12:39 AM
Don't be discouraged by the kickboard. You have to keep at it. Make sure you are not kicking like a runner (i.e., bending your knees). The kick should originate from your hips.

If you learns tips on how to breathe bilaterally, please let us know.

Melalvai
10-26-2011, 11:16 AM
Unfortunately I think the muscles you use for biking are not the muscles for a swim kick. Yeah, it's all from the hip. I don't use kickboards because I go backwards with them! But get me in a good streamline position kicking from the hips and I can motor along pretty well. At least I get to the other side eventually.

I've been doing some work on my back, following the Total Immersion sequence, and I can't go forward OR keep my legs up. I'm trying to use the same kind of kick but it's just not there. I went back and re-read that section and it says lack of coordination, and inflexible ankles, are the cause of that. Well, I know which one is my problem. And I might also have inflexible ankles.

tangentgirl
10-26-2011, 12:40 PM
Good for you, lph! It's always nice to have something to add to the workout repertoire, and swimming is a good skill to have. And learning something new is great too.

I learned to *really* swim several years ago when I did a tri with TNT. Used to be panicky afraid of the water and couldn't get past a dogpaddle. Learned how to swim freestyle, then got into the open water (you have to in a tri), and all that gave me the confidence to learn to surf. I like swimming. I love surfing. Almost as much as love cycling. Sometimes a little more. Shh.

Looking forward to the next report!

HillSlugger
10-26-2011, 05:33 PM
I'm with you, I don't go anywhere with my kick either. Still, your kick drives everything else in your stroke (rotation, etc) so you do have to kick.

Veronica
10-26-2011, 05:46 PM
The reason Michael Phelps is so good - he's got wicked big feet and REALLY flexible ankles!

Don't give up the kicking with a kickboard, it really is a good leg workout. Try kicking with your feet just below the surface, visualize your body as torpedo moving through the water, all in a line.

Have fun!

Veronica

trista
10-26-2011, 05:50 PM
I started learning freestyle last spring - I took a couple months of lessons at the Y. Kicking is the hardest for me too. I try to get to the pool at least twice a week, and have been doing so for 6 months. I am *just now* getting confident/good enough to swim without fins, but I still need them for long distances. I figure it will come in time :)

Susan
11-15-2011, 02:15 AM
I learned swimming quite a long time ago so I may be wrong, but I think the point of kicking is mostly to keep balance. If you have good balance, you are able to swim freestyle even without kicking (legs just floating and rolling with your body). If the legs won't stay up, it's a balance problem, not a kicking problem most of the time. There is no need to really propel you forward with your legs (at least if you aren't a competitive swimmer)... so don't be discouraged.

lph
11-15-2011, 06:46 AM
We've now done:
just leg kicks holding a kickboard, with head up and with head immersed
just leg kicks with fins, arms straight ahead, hands locked together
some other stuff
leg kicks with fins lying on one side, one arm ahead, breathing the whole time
ditto, with side changes
ditto, with 3 arm strokes and side change
and have now upgraded to the Drill from Hell... :rolleyes:
... which is face in the water, regular leg kicks/no fins, one hand flat on a kickboard ahead, one arm doing the arm stroke, and practicing the breathing rhythm: one arm stroke - hold your breath, one more arm stroke - breathe out, twist face up, breathe in.

I hate thsi drill! There's so much to think about, and half the time I bungle the breathing out so I end up trying to breathe in while there's still air in my lungs and the other half of the time I try to breathe in and there's just a helluva lot of water there. :mad:

I made a little bit of progress when I realized that the arm stroke, like in paddling, doesn't generate an even force. There's one point in the stroke where you can feel your arm giving a bit more "shove", which is good to use to start the rotation. But mostly I struggle because I'm used to breathing out the entire time doing breaststroke except when I come up to breathe in, so expelling air fast feels quite strange to me. And holding my breath feels even worse. I read somewhere that the breathing reflex is not connected to needing more oxygen, because there's quite a bit of oxygen left in the air you breathe out, but connected to a build-up of carbon dioxide in your lungs, so you feel the need to breathe out. Whatever the reason, my head feels like it's about to explode.

Owell, keeps my head busy.

Pax
11-15-2011, 08:31 AM
lph - try exhaling throughout the underwater part of your stroke, then inhaling naturally as your mouth clears the water. I taught and coached swimming for a zillion years and trying to blast out air and inhale in the short window of the stroke is a mistake a lot of newer folks make. It makes your stroke really choppy.

lph
11-15-2011, 09:44 AM
Thanks Pax, I'll try. The instructor wants us to hold our breath as long as possible, exhale fast underwater and inhale fast, but it gets me confused so I end up exhaling too little, too late. Exhaling continuously underwater I can do.

Becky
11-15-2011, 09:44 AM
This particular blog post (http://www.feelforthewater.com/2011/11/checking-your-breathing-timing.html) from Swim Smooth really helped my breathing timing.

Heck, their whole site (www.swimsmooth.com) helped me learn to swim in a somewhat-efficient fashion. I'll never be fast or have super endurance, but I no longer feel like I'm going to drown.

Becky
11-15-2011, 09:46 AM
Thanks Pax, I'll try. The instructor wants us to hold our breath as long as possible, exhale fast underwater and inhale fast, but it gets me confused so I end up exhaling too little, too late. Exhaling continuously underwater I can do.

Has the instructor explained why he wants you to hold your breath? I'm confused by that...

lph
11-15-2011, 09:55 AM
Not really, but we haven't had much time to discuss it. He said something about floating higher in the water (which is logical, but I float pretty well ;)) and being able to use the oxygen in your lungs for longer, which I'm not sure if I buy.

Anyone?

Pax
11-15-2011, 09:57 AM
Has the instructor explained why he wants you to hold your breath? I'm confused by that...


Not really, but we haven't had much time to discuss it. He said something about floating higher in the water (which is logical, but I float pretty well ;)) and being able to use the oxygen in your lungs for longer, which I'm not sure if I buy.

Anyone?
I'm with Becky, that's very odd. :confused:

I know competitive swimmers who practice breath holding to increase lung capacity, but I've never heard of that with people learning to swim.

Becky
11-15-2011, 09:58 AM
His explanation runs counter to what I was taught. I learned to exhale continuously, which lowers your chest and raises your legs, making you more streamlined and efficient.

But I don't know enough to say who's right. :confused:

lph
11-15-2011, 10:01 AM
Well then! I think I'll just happily ignore that part for the time being :D He hasn't really been stressing it, just said that that would be ideal.

Pax
11-15-2011, 10:03 AM
Well then! I think I'll just happily ignore that part for the time being :D He hasn't really been stressing it, just said that that would be ideal.

I think if you try to keep your breathing as natural as possible, you'll find your swimming epiphany. Best of luck!!

Melalvai
11-15-2011, 03:30 PM
Yeah, it seems counter to what I've learned too. The idea of keeping oxygen in your lungs doesn't hold water (ha ha) because your body doesn't sense oxygen levels. It senses CO2 levels. If you are in a room with no oxygen you wouldn't notice so long as you can get rid of the CO2. That's why people get carbon monoxide poisoning, or suffocate without knowing it in a room full of gas nitrogen. Breathing out continuously lets your body keep getting rid of CO2.

sgtiger
11-15-2011, 10:26 PM
Hi lph! I'm taking a swimming class this term too. My swim instructor, like others on this board, recommends exhaling naturally and smoothly while our heads are underwater during the stroke.

For me, I can't hold my breath underwater very long before feeling panicky anyway. Panicky feeling => hyperventilating or gasping underwater => choking on icky chlorinated water:eek::o:rolleyes:

Pax
11-21-2011, 10:17 AM
Hey lph, how's the swimming going??

lph
11-21-2011, 11:00 AM
Hey lph, how's the swimming going??

Didja have to ask today? ;)

Today I feel like a lead weight. A flailing one, but lead nonetheless. Busy week, just swam once, and that's way too little. Today he had us right out into swimming freestyle with no gadgets, he just wanted us to swim across the pool (:eek:) trying out different hand and arm positions to feel the difference. So I've flailed my way across the pool but I have no idea what my arms were doing :D
I think actually I'm doing the right things, but just have to practice a whole lot because I'm doing them too fast, too energetically and too uncoordinately, and I don't breathe out or in enough. So I end up moving quite fast but stopping halfway to breathe. Besides I'm old and stubborn and need lots and lots of practice to learn new things. Yes, I know a lot of you are older than me, but I swear I can FEEL my brain going "ow, stop it, stop pestering me, I'm confuuuuuused"...

But at least I've given up on holding my breath.

Pax
11-21-2011, 11:22 AM
I so wish I could work with you for an hour! Finding those one or two tweaks that smooth out a stroke is just magical... you ever come to the states and we're going swimming! :D

lph
11-21-2011, 11:42 AM
Deal :p

Melalvai
11-21-2011, 04:07 PM
There are so many things to coordinate when swimming. One of the many things I like about Total Immersion (also Chi Running) is they instruct you to focus on one or at most two things at a time. So one length across the pool you focus on proper head position. Your arms and legs might be completely wrong but you don't worry about that. Coming back across the pool you pick a different focus, like body roll. Eventually it all starts to come together.

It reminds me of practicing hands alone when I was learning piano. Right hand once, left hand once, hands together.

lph
11-27-2011, 06:04 AM
Yup. And I had a (minor) epiphany when I realized how I have to learn to breathe before I can focus on anything else. I was using fins, and managed to look back at my hand emerging from the water, and hey presto, I got to the other side without feeling my head was going to explode. Amazing how enough air made it possible to start thinking about hand position and arm position and finicky stuff like that.

Without fins I'm still only half-oxygenated, but working on it.

lph
11-27-2011, 06:25 AM
Bizarre conversation at the pool today, with officious dude. I was miffed that the attendants hadn't let me borrow fins.

Me: "Excuse me, is that your own kickboard?"
Him: "No, I just borrowed it here. Having trouble with your leg kicks?"
Me: "No, timing my breathing, really. I'm a learner, and I wanted to borrow some fins, but they wouldn't let me."
Him: "Well, you can borrow the plate after me if you like"
Me: "Thanks, but actually I just need fins."
Him: "You have to keep a straight leg, not bent. And kick from the hip"
Me: "Uh, yeah. But it's the breathing.."
Him: "There was a triathlete here earlier practicing kicks. And he didn't budge from the spot!"
Me: "Yup, that sounds like me, on the first day of the class."
Him: "Are you a triathlete too?"
Me: "Uh, no. I'm a beginner trying to learn freestyle." (Trying to change the subject) "There's so much to think about. Using fins helps me concentrate on my arms."
Him, totally seriously: "You have to swim cognitively. Don't think!"
Me, mentally rolling my eyes: "Right. Thanks."
Him: "You have a noseclip. You don't need that."
Me. "Actually, yes, I do need a noseclip."
Him: "No you don't."
Me: "Yes. I do." (see, I'm learning ;))
Him: "Breathe in through your mouth, out through your nose."
Me. "I breathe both in and out through my mouth".
Him: "Oh."

:D