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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    3,880

    Learning to swim

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    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
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/SI SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Jett

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
    Posts
    3,152
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by lph View Post
    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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    403
    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.
    2014 Surly Straggler
    2012 Salsa Casseroll - STOLEN

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Arlington, VA
    Posts
    1,998
    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.

    Luna Eclipse//Terry B'fly
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    Bianchi Eros Donna//Terry Falcon
    Seven Alaris//Jett 143
    Terry Isis (Titanium)//Terry B'fly

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    2,046
    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.
    2009 Trek 7.2FX WSD, brooks Champion Flyer S, commuter bike

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Land of 1,000 Bicycles
    Posts
    582
    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!
    2001 Cannondale R500 <3
    2011 Specialized Ruby Elite Apex
    2021 Tangential Speedarama

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Olney, MD
    Posts
    3,058
    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.
    I'd rather be swimming...biking...running...and eating cheesecake...
    --===--

    2004 Aegis T2 Tri bike/Fizik Vitesse Tri
    2007 Jamis Coda/Terry Liberator Gel
    2011 Trek Madone 5.5/Cobb V-Flow Max

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,246
    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
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Indianapolis
    Posts
    165
    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
    ~ working mom to 3 little girls ~


    Roadie... 2010 54cm Trek Madone 4.5, Bontrager inForm

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Austria
    Posts
    372
    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.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    3,880
    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...
    ... 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.

    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.
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/SI SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Jett

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,783
    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.
    Trek 7.4 FX WSD

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,693
    This particular blog post from Swim Smooth really helped my breathing timing.

    Heck, their whole site 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.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    3,880
    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.
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/SI SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Jett

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,693
    Quote Originally Posted by lph View Post
    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...

 

 

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