Swimming – Any tips to improve technique?

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  • Swimming – Any tips to improve technique?
  • slowpuncheur
    Member

    Maybe I’m just dense…

    I’m trying to improve my front crawl but bloody hell it’s hard work. I’m reasonably fit from the bike (normally in top 3rd of leaderboards on Strava etc) and have ran half marathons etc. but I always seem to run out of steam after 3-4 lengths at a time. The problem is I can’t swim slowly doing front crawl.

    The local pool has a load of good swimmers and I’m fascinated by the portly 50+ gents who just seem to chug away for hours. Clearly, they spend a lot of time in the pool and have a better technique as a result. Any tips or online resources you’ve found helpful?

    Ta

    soobalias
    Member

    swimming lesson?

    Premier Icon Steelsreal
    Subscriber

    wife is a swimmiong teacher and spends most of her time teaching grown ups out of bad habits that they have got themselves into.

    I surfed a lot as a youth so my swimming style ended up head up, fast arms and like you i struggle to do “slow” swimming that you see everyone in a pool doing..

    Wife has taught me and it does get better, keeping head down, breathing out, and realising that my front crawl arm movements are all wrong!

    Think there are some interesting videos on YT for drills etc, VO2 have ome good ones.

    A pool boy float between your knees also helps as it allows you to concentrate on your arms…

    Lessons is the other option, but they are not cheap..

    Premier Icon iainc
    Subscriber

    have a look at ‘total immersion swimming’. Some decent online tips, but nothing comes close to some 121 coaching.

    Premier Icon cp
    Subscriber

    I’m reasonably fit from the bike (normally in top 3rd of leaderboards on Strava etc) and have ran half marathons etc

    Front crawl is all about upper body strength and nothing (well, very very little) to do with leg strength. 90% of your speed comes from the upper body, and the leg kick is partially propulsion, and a lot to do maintaining a streamlined body.

    LOADS and LOADS of info online about swimming technique. you tube vids galore.

    total immersion is a starting point.

    wobbliscott
    Member

    Work on your core. Swimming really searches out your core strenght, since you’re not in contact with the ground or anything that is firmly fixed then it all goes through your core which holds your technique together. Also coaching lessons are good especially those that use cameras to record your technique.

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    breathing and gliding. its all about the breathing and gliding.

    Premier Icon verses
    Subscriber

    I’ve been using this site to help me improve;

    http://www.swimsmooth.com/

    I’m sure lessons would be better, but I got lots of useful tips from that site.

    slowpuncheur
    Member

    Thanks all. I appreciate there’s loads of online stuff and occasionally conflicting info. I was interesting in knowing what has worked for people on here – coming from a cycling background where lets be honest, it’s a less full-on technical sport that swimming.

    Will have a look at total immersion swimming and swimsmooth but it seems to me that as with most things in life its practice and coaching. No chest hair shaving though..or Tom Daly sized shorts.

    Premier Icon verses
    Subscriber

    24 months ago I decided to do a sprint tri so needed to go from a swimming ability level of “able to not drown” to “competently be able to complete 300m“.

    Using tips from the Swimsmooth site and going swimming 2-3 times a week for around 3 months I managed it (think I had a time of approx 6mins 30s on the day).

    I packed in the swimming but took it up again at the start of this year for the same tri and got approx a 6min time.

    I then did another sprint tri in Sept and manged to get my swim down to around 5mins 30s.

    I’m pleased with my improvement but think I’d need specific coaching to improve much further.

    mogrim
    Member

    Front crawl is all about upper body strength and nothing (well, very very little) to do with leg strength. 90% of your speed comes from the upper body, and the leg kick is partially propulsion, and a lot to do maintaining a streamlined body.

    I’d say it’s very little to do with upper body strength, and all to do with technique (at least at amateur level) – I got my proverbial handed to me on a plate a couple of weeks back in my swim class, when a portly 50yr old woman turned up…

    OP: take classes if you can, if not the swimsmooth or total immersion techniques are pretty good. But classes really are the way forward.

    Premier Icon teamhurtmore
    Subscriber

    Two technical things jump out

    1. Breathing – check if you are breathing out consistently and not storing co2
    2 Technique – are you thrashing the water? Are you arms and shoulders tired. You may need to work on coordinating arms and body better.

    I will disagree on gliding advice, IMO and swimsmooth’s gliding is a big no, no!!!! Try to eliminate dead spots at the front of your stroke – but I doubt that is priority number 1.

    Next swim – do 200-300 gentle warm up and focus purely on your breathing. When do you breathe out? Do you hold your breathe? Are you breathing to one or both sides? Then report back!!!!!

    29erKeith
    Member

    Similar boat here, I’ve just started 121 lessons, had and initial assessment first proper lesson this week. I had a look as TI videos years ago and didn’t get far with it. I think you need and instructor in the pool to with you to make it work you can’t see\understand what your doing wrong to fix stuff.

    Ask at your local Tri’ club, that’s what I did. I’ve got a fully ASA trained instructor, she’s good and cheap! 8) She’s just tagging it on the end of one of her training sessions.

    slowpuncheur
    Member

    I will disagree on gliding advice, IMO and swimsmooth’s gliding is a big no, no!!!! Try to eliminate dead spots at the front of your stroke – but I doubt that is priority number 1.

    See. Conflicting advice already 😉

    Local Uni do an adult ‘improvers’ swimming course. Both kids have been taught there and come on leaps and bounds but I appreciate it is one thing to get kids swimming and quite another sorting technique out. I know a guy through work who’s a national standard tri athlete (but otherwise he’s a decent bloke) and I’ll ask him who he could recommend.

    Breathing: I do try to constantly exhale under water and breathe bi-laterally. Bizarrely, I find breathing every 4 strokes easier than 3.

    Technique: I’m trying to reduce the number of strokes – elbows up, palms facing back etc. Need to improve what I think is the ‘push’ stage of the stroke.

    Is the conclusion just that swimmers are bloody fit?

    Premier Icon coolhandluke
    Subscriber

    Join a swimming club,

    My 10 year old daughter could only just beat me this summer over a couple of lengths, more than that and she left me for dead, that was after being in swimming club twice a week since March.

    Now, I doubt I’ll do one length before she has me as she’s gone up to a faster group and does it three times a week.

    Her technique and stamina have improved no end.

    portly 50+ gents

    Added buoyancy?

    I always swam best when I’ve had a little drink, its in the confidence in it, what hip flask for speedo’s? 🙂

    SamB
    Member

    If “running out of steam” means “running out of breath”, you are almost certainly not breathing out fast enough.

    Read this: http://www.swimsmooth.com/exhalation_beg.html

    Then go and do some sink downs to get an idea of how much you should be exhaling, then try that whilst getting your crawl on. AND then come back and let us know how it went 🙂

    I was a rather poor swimmer; this year I completed an iron-distance open water swim. It’s all about the breathing!

    wobbliscott
    Member

    Gliding is good. When I used to swim competitively in my youth we used to count strokes for each length and work to reduce that as one of our drills. It promotes more power per stroke and maintaining the right body shape to be as hydrodynamic as possible – thus is where the core strength I mentioned before comes in. Everything works through your core, so supplement your swim training with a decent amount of core strength and stamina work.

    karnali
    Member

    as posted on here, gliding only works for certain types of swimmers and overgliding is very poor, swimsmooth is very good. I have done tri’s for a few years and over the last year have dropped 1500 time by abour 4-5 mins by following their stuff and training prog and in particular going slower to improve tchnique and pacing

    jono84
    Member

    as above swim smooth seems to be what a lot of the coaches teach these days, swimming is very technique driven, for me what I found helped was being filmed, a lot of what I thought I was doing…I wasn’t .certain drills help too as to concentrate on specific parts of your stroke, im lucky enough to have access to local swim sessions and running club, (I presume your getting/are already into triathalon) im hopeing to qualify for gb age groups this gear after a successful first year this year, its quite addictive !!

    Premier Icon jambalaya
    Subscriber

    Bike and swim, its legs vs arms in terms of muscle groups.

    Find a good swimming coach, if you are reasonably serious join a club. There is a huge amount of technique (I never appreciated this until my kids started swimming reasonably seriously).

    I am not totally sure why you cannot reduce your stroke rate, I mean you don’t sprint everywhere on the bike do you ? I suspect you are making short sharp strokes, not reaching far enough forward, not pulling far enough back. You should practice that a bit plus using a flat between your legs to stop you kicking. There are sprinters, middle and long distance swimmers just like running.

    slowpuncheur
    Member

    **update**

    Back from the pool having looked at the Swimsmooth website. Really concentrated on exhaling consistently, pushing through the stroke and rotating my body more. The last bit in particular really helped a lot.

    These things happen in small steps but it was an improvement in terms of speed and efficiency. Give it a few more weeks and I’ll be keeping up with the portly 50+ gents…

    mogrim
    Member

    Back from the pool having looked at the Swimsmooth website. Really concentrated on exhaling consistently, pushing through the stroke and rotating my body more. The last bit in particular really helped a lot.

    Make sure you reach out with your arm, too – as you do when you get to the end of the length and you reach for the wall. Basically you don’t want your hand to cross over the (imaginary) centre line.

    wors
    Member

    You sound like me OP, I started swimming again In September, only now am I feeling the benefit of concentrating on breathing and all the other pointers. Keep practising is the key! Sounds obvious but the more you do it the easier it gets. Read a quote in a magazine from a swimmer, she said you can train for 49 weeks of the year, have 3 weeks off and feel like you need arm bands again!

    cynic-al
    Member

    mogrim – Member
    Make sure you reach out with your arm, too – as you do when you get to the end of the length and you reach for the wall.

    Don’t you want to be striking down rather than out in front, as the first bit of the pull isn’t pulling you forward?

    Premier Icon leffeboy
    Subscriber

    Back from the pool having looked at the Swimsmooth website

    The swimsmooth book is pretty good too. I got more from that than the website

    Premier Icon teamhurtmore
    Subscriber

    SP – good job and great to hear +ve results. Swimsmooth is great and Paul and Adam are v generous and top blokes if you meet them. Very generous with their advice.

    Another great warm up is a slow, setady 200-300m doing their bubble, bubble, breathe or 1-2– strong stroke drill.

    Not sure about the comment above re striking down. Another Swimsmooth no, no and one of my old habits. I fit into their over-glider camp (and embarrasingly used to be a video on their website!!) so have had to work on eliminating the glide/dead spots, upping my stroke rate and not pulling down!

    ajc
    Member

    I am same as op. a fit runner and cyclist but just recently decided to learn to swim properly. My heart rate goes high really quickly, but swimmimg 3 times a week for 5 weeks and lessons have made a huge difference. Swim smooth also has great tips. As others have said its all about technique not strength. A 14 yr old girl turned up at our Tri club session and whipped everyone including a so called good swimmer with huge guns.

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