(Sellie from St Charles IL) wrote in message
> Im currently in the throws of struggling with the swim portion of a sprint triathlon. I can run
> for miles and bike for hours, but I can' swim 100m without gasping for air. I have to admit I
> haven't swam since I was a wee lass. So I took a few weeks worth of lessons. Im dedicated to say
> the least. I jump in the pool at least 2-3 times a week. I've got excellent upper body strength
> (I've been using a floatie between my legs to practice correct breathiing and such) so thats not a
> problem. What IS a problem is the fact that my little legs drag in the water. I realize I need to
> keep my head down and Im working on that. But I feel if I had a workout partner of sorts, that
> would be an excellent benefit. Anyone know of any group, person, or coach that could help a
> floundering swimmer in St Charles area?
I can't help with coaching in St Charles, though I could get you some contacts if you were able to
go as far as say Wheaton\Glen Ellyn.
Your note hit upon one of the biggest problems with inexperienced swimmers - keeping your head down.
The higher it rises, several bad things happen. One is what you have noticed - usually your legs
drop. This is understandable - raise the front end, the back end goes down. The other bad thing is
that you don't glide very well (making you have to work harder to cover the same distance). It's
like if you move something across the surface of the water - the flatter it is, the easier it is,
but the more it is vertical, the more resistance it encounters.
Regarding upper body strength, swimming is a bit odd. It uses a lot of unusual muscles, and not so
much the ones we normally associate with upper body strength. You can lift, bench, whatever a ton
and still be weak for swimming. Some of the main swimming muscles are the triceps and lats - these
are ones that are weak on most people, and you'll definitely notice them after you've done a long,
The best way to improve any of these things, as well as overall swimming ability, is simply to do
more of it. How far do you swim on each trip to the pool? Distance is very important, even to be
able to do shorter lengths like 200m. It will give you more strength, endurance, and help you with
technique. One thing I'd work on is trying to go longer - NOT faster. Glide through the water, try
to be efficient. Moreover, increase the distance that you can cover without stopping. While you may
have overall cardio conditioning, you need to work on that with the particular muscles that you will
be using here. As for breathing, don't lift, ROLL. A good stoke is not flat, it rolls from side to
side. Your head stays relatively flat, slightly raised. As you roll to one side, you will be closer
to the surface of the water. Turn your head and breath, but don't raise your head. (Does that make
sense?) Lastly, do some weight training if you can. Work on your tris and lats and those "lesser"
muscles that are critical to swimming!
The good news is that if you can just do a tolerable time, you should do great. IMHO swimming is the
least important leg - that is, even on a mile swim, 95% of the times, from good to bad, are within
10 minutes of each other. OTOH, there is a much larger variance among the run times - in say 5 miles
a good runner can easily make that up over a poor one, and then some. Take the tri I finished
Saturday - I had one of the fastest swim times, but got smoked by a guy who swam in DOUBLE my time.
(I even beat him on the bike!) He had a killer run, whereas mine is maybe average...