I went to the coast for my holidays and swam exactly twice. It’s almost torture to be walking near the ocean for so long and not be able to swim in it.
It has been a while since the last time I swam in the ocean and it was really nice. I had forgotten how much salt there is and how well you float on the water. I was able to swim for much longer than I usually can. It did get me in a bit of trouble however when I swam in an area I shouldn’t have. The life guard was busy blowing his horn I just kept swimming totally oblivious. Lucky I didn’t get hit by a boat.
Back now and I can definitely feel the lack of practice in my shoulders. Ouch. I was pushing myself hard, but I wasn’t able to break 20 seconds again. Although I am not sure as I kept having problems with my watch. It is really not well suited for timing.
I don’t know if you have the problem, but when I try to press the stop button I tend to accidently press the split button. Sometimes I even press the stop button and then the split button which deletes my time. I think it is getting time to buy a new watch.
I don’t know what I did differently, but I broke my 20 second block. I haven’t been able to break 20 seconds for weeks. Today I suddenly crushed my score sprinting 19.57 seconds. After a little rest I sprinted again and went 19.17 seconds.
This type of breakthrough is probably normal for more serious atheletes. After working on practicing proper technique again and again, finally you get the pay-off.
I had to do a double-take when I saw 19 on my watch. The practice I have been doing that has paid off consists of timed 25′s for about 45 minutes three times a week. I swim different types of drills: Hand-offs, three on each side, kick drills, eyes closed, etc. Every workout I focus on one aspect of my technique.
Today I was focusing on being long. The drills I do for elongating myself are swimming with my eyes closed and cycle counts. I find keeping my eyes open really distracts me when I want to feel the correct movement in my shoulders.
Things started off pretty poorly for me before I started on my drills. I was pace swimming, averaging 27 seconds per 25 meters. Anything over 25 seconds lets me know my technique is way off. This is usually because I am being lazy and using way too many cycles to get across the pool.
My target is 8 cycles with a 10 meter dolphin kick after the push off. I was swimming around 12 cycles with my legs too far apart at first. After I realized this I started the cycle count drill and brought it between eight and nine. This immediately dropped my average to 25 seconds. I closed my eyes for a few laps and worked on my reach and the reaching over a barrel idea. I also worked on tilting my right hand after recovery as it was entering the water so the palm was facing right and reaching until I felt my shoulder connect with the side of my head.
After those drills my average time was at 23 seconds, which I have noticed lately is the speed I go when I am doing things correctly. I normally don’t kick much when I am working on technique because it is hard for me to focus on both.
It was a nice surprise to break 20 seconds and I hope I can repeat it next time.
Today’s focus was on high elbows. It was really great because I was able to swim consistently at 24 seconds on 25 meters without kicking and not really exerting myself.
I was trying to see if without sprinting I could get a fast speed by using the front quadrant swimming together with high elbows. I found that this worked and it didn’t in a way. It worked because I was able to stay very consistent, swimming faster than anyone else in the pool, but not expend much energy. On the other hand when I try to spring I only gain about 3 seconds, which I think comes mainly from kicking like mad.
I was trying to use hip rotation, but as much as I watch the videos and see the pro’s hips move, I can’t feel much additional force because of it.
I find it so frustrating that when you really want to spend a lot of extra energy you can’t really make much improvement.
I forgot my watch today and so I couldn’t time my sprints, instead I tried to focus on my form. One of my favorite exercises is to swim with my eyes closed. This usually only works when there aren’t too many people in the same lane.
I love the way it feels to just focus on the internal mechanics of your stroke. I usually open my eyes two or three times for a split second, just to orient myself. I used to try keeping my eyes closed the entire time, but I would run into the line in the water.
Today while swimming this way I felt a lot more drag around my head then what I usually notice. I guess it is a good sign that I am aware of the water pressure on my upper body when I practice, however I can’t really figure out how to reduce it.
Tomorrow I am going to try and work on the shape of my hand while swimming.
I don’t remember where I read it, but it is sometimes recommend that if you want to be a sprinter, then just practice sprinting.
I don’t really enjoy swimming long distance. At least right now where I feel that my technique is poor. I prefer to swim hard, stop, analyze what worked and then go again.
One of the big issues I was having was about stroke timing. I read an article by Coach Emmett Hines entitled Swimming In Circles. He makes an analogy with race boats, which are built long and thin and how very fast sprinters strive to make themselves long an thin to glide through the water.
One of the main points I took from the article is that you should pretty much always have an arm out in front of you. This means that you don’t start your stroke until your recovering hand is nearly back in the water. Your stroke actually drives the arm entering the water farther forward, which stretches your body.
These two images of Ian Thorpe show this clearly.
You can see in the first image that the recovering arm is starting its drive forward and the other hand is only just starting it’s push. The coach calls this FQS, Front Quadrant Swimming. I really like the feeling of FQS.
What I like about it is that it compartmentalizes your stroke. You do one entire stroke, from push, to bringing your hand to your side, to recovery and entering the water, at a time. This helps me to focus on one arm at a time. Before I was busy trying to put my hand in the water while making sure my other arm was recovering correctly.
There is an exercise sometimes suggested, which is to practice handing a small rubber pipe between your hands on each stroke so that you are forced to keep your arms within FQS. I don’t actually use the pipe I just pretend.
I have been swimming for about 5 months now and feel like I have made some progress. I don’t remember how fast I could swim 50 meters when I first started training, but I believe it was around 50 seconds. I can swim 50 meters in right under 40 seconds now and I am making improvements all the time.
My training schedule is pretty light. I swim two to three times a week during lunch in a 25 meter pool. I don’t have a fixed routine yet, but I typically swim two laps at a time and then take a 10 to 30 second pause. I try to mix up my first laps between working on specific issues I can identify and doing exercises that I read on the Internet. Once I feel warmed up I do a mixture of sprints. I work on both 50 meter sprints and 25 meter sprints.
I am working on a site that will help me track my times and my progress. When it is done I will put it on open it up for everyone.
As far as technique goes I have a number of resources that I will start compiling on this site. Many of them are videos, that can be found on you tube, of Ian Thorpe, who I am trying to emulate. Going forward I will try to describe what I learn and analyze what works for me and what doesn’t.
This blog is devoted to obsessing about freestyle swimming. I don’t have any great claim to fame about swimming. I have never swam in a competitive swimming event. I can’t even swim that well, but as I learn I will try my best to explain what I learn and how it works out for me. The tile of this blog is Twenty-Three seconds, which how fast I wish I could swim the 50m Freestyle. I am can swim 25 meters in around 20 seconds, so I guess you could say I am halfway there.