I am a decent swimmer (in the pool...open water I'm still getting used to). But I have been stable at 1350m in 30 min. I tried this AM to go faster, but I don't want to kick too much b/c I need to save my legs for the bike/run portion of the tri. I have tried increasing my cadance, and it didn't seem to help much. All it did was make me more out of breath. Then I tried pulling harder, but same result. More tired...not much faster (if at all).
I just learned how to breathe on both sides a few wks ago. LOL...am I expecting too much too fast? What's your best advice? Thanks
Practice makes perfect, the more you practice the more speed you can get. challenge your self by recording your speed data from time to time. This will help you to challenge yourself.
Swimming is much more about technique then fitness level compared to cycling or running. For example, I'm over a 10 minute mile pace while running, but due to a long background in the pool, I can rattle off 1800 - 2000 yards in 30 minutes in the pool without too much strain.
Because it's so focused on technique, simply "trying harder" doesn't get you a whole lot while swimming. You have to focus much more on improving areas where your technique might be lacking.
Without actually watching you swim... it's not easy to do. That's why the reccomendation of "find a coach" is thrown around so much. But I can tell you some common areas where people can improve to help their swimming speed and efficiency.
1. Roll the shoulders. - A big part of swimming efficiently is keeping your body streamlined... you should by like a rigid knife cutting through the water. Many swimmers will bend and twist their body while swimming, which causes drag that slows you down. But you have to turn to take a breath.... so what's the solution. It's rolling your shoulders. I like to tell people they should imagine a pole that goes into the top of their head and comes out between their legs. You can rotate on that pole... but you can't bend it. The way you maintain your streamlined position is by rolling your shoulders with each stroke... when your arm is recovering out of the water, that shoulder should be pointing up at the ceiling, and when your arm is pulling through the water that shoulder should be pointed toward the bottom of the pool. Breathing is simply a matter of rotating your head with your body when you need to breath... or just continuing to stare at the pool bottom when you don't. This also gets your arms deeper into the less turbulent water which increases the power you get from each arm stroke. Some drills that help with this are doing a fingertip drag drill (where your fingers drag along the surface and your thumb drags along the side of your body when you recover), Streamline kicking on the surface while rolling your body from side to side, swimming with one arm while working on body rotation and "extension" drill, where at the end of each arm stroke when your arm is forward, make sure you turn your body and extend your arm as if you are finishing a race at the wall.
2. Keep your head down - This goes with the streamline concept as well. If your head is elevated (say staring at the wall you are swimming toward or at the feet of the guy in front of you), your waist and legs tend to drop in the water. This either forces you to kick harder to keep your feet elevated, or your feet drop and your chest and thighs start catching water as you move forward. This slows you down considerably. Think about keeping the very top of your head pointing toward where you are swimming instead of your eyes as much as possible.
3. Correct arm motion - This is probably the hardest to explain through words rather then demonstration. As you rotate your shoulders (per #1), the motion your arm takes under water needs to be different then when you are flailing through the waters without rotating. It "feels" like your hand is making a bit of an "S" shape through the water... but if you look at it through the outside it's actually close to a straight line in "real space"... the rotation of your body is what makes it feel like an "S". The way it should feel is like you are "catching" the water with your hand and forearm (and at points your bicep as well) the entire length of the stroke... you should ALWAYS be getting a "push" on the water with every part of your stroke that is under water. You begin as your arm enters the water by getting your hand and forarm "over" the water, with your elbow bent slightly and arm extended in front of your face. As you pull, your elbov begins to bend outward somewhat and your arm travels outward sligtly. You are pulling toward your feet and should feel pressure all the way to your elbow on the surface pulling against the water. As you continue the pull, your hand moves in toward your midsection. By the time your hand is just above your navel, you body is rotating back to be nearly flat in the water (as your other arm is starting to enter the water above your head). You finish by sweeping the pulling hand from your navel down to your waist... this gets the power from your tricep extension and uses it both to propel you forward and aid in the rotation driving your other shoulder down. The correct pull uses your lats to get power from the top of your pull until your hand reaches your midsection, then the tricep to finish the pull off and get the arm out of the water. It's not a matter of pulling harder, but rather catching more water with your pulls.
Hope that helps somewhat... but a coach is probably the best answer.
You have to put your time in. You will need to increase your cadence and your pull strenght, but without good tech, it is useless. You have to work at swimming.
GREG C. MORIATES
Owner/Coach - LET ME HELP YOU ACHIEVE GREATNESS!
Team/Club Xtreme Multisports, Inc.
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