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Old 21 May 2017, 07:07
DaveP DaveP is offline
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Swimming drill suggestions?

Good morning.
Like many of a certain (cough) demographic, I've succeeded in using up my meniscal cartilage to the point that a trail run or day hump under load more than once weekly leaves me hobbled and cranky. Given my attention span, similar to that of a ficus, prior experience with all manner of stationary gear has been unsat, so I'm back in the pool. Initial priority has been improving tidal volume and resting HR; now working on some shoulder/back issues, as I'm overdue for reverse-engineering on a least one shoulder.

Since some of you do or did swim for a living, and there have been a few threads here (, I'd be interested in folks' thoughts on drills or routines you've found worthwhile.
25yd pool. After 2.5 months of twice-weekly, have worked back from waterboarding-level winded to:

10 x 100yd, warmup, alternating w/ and w/o lap fins; doing one underwater length as part of 2-3 sets now
6 x 50yd, pull buoy and paddles, (>never used these before, helpful to recruit muscle groups and penalize poor technique)
5 x 50yd, max effort, working on increasing strokes per breath
500yd warm down, usually continuous with pull bouy

At the point now where this ^ is continuous; working on improving times, considering increasing lap count.
Have also considered trying to add DIVE fin work (CSS or kickboard) but would likely need another day, as I'm pushing leg cramps by the end of this workout some days.
Breath drills would good; crossovers would be great (actually, they would suck...) but the staff freaks a bit with underwater work as it is and I'd prefer a partner to pace. When I got started here, there was a Coastie kid with a similar schedule, but he shipped to A-school shortly after (good luck, kid!).

Anyway, any input, critique, or other peeps' workouts would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 21 May 2017, 08:20
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What strokes are you using? I'd roll the "big four" (butterfly, back, breast and overhand) into your routine. Start doing medleys at 100m, and work your way up.

I'd also start with sidestrokes and start towing/carrying stuff in the downstream hand.

Good on you for finding another way to stay in shape.
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Old 21 May 2017, 09:29
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Like Tracy said, look at various strokes. If you look at the side stroke as your "distance running" stroke and the others as sprints intervals etc. that will keep you in the water longer until you find the groove.
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Old 21 May 2017, 09:43
Bodiebot Bodiebot is offline
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My advice is to add a clock to your work out. Your times on your set yardage will tell you where your at. There are so many things you can do to improve your stokes and your times but the biggest thing is you have to get in the water more often even if its for a quick 1000. When your doing swim work outs look at them like gym work outs and make them make sense. Besides getting in the water more my 2nd biggest piece of advice is find a Masters team.

Just off of the top of my head I would consider adding drill/swim on your 50s, drill down swim back ( I cannot tell you what drill because I haven't seen you swim) you can add fins to this as well.
Drop the paddles when your pulling and pull longer distances, you need to feel the water.
Kick more, more often and for time.
Instead of underwater swims, when your doing sprints you you can breath every 6-8 strokes. You can do the same thing pulling distance.

Example work out: Instead of times, Ill give you rest times
500 warm up - 300 swim 200 kick
10x100 free w/ fins 10 sec rest
12x50 drill/swim IM order by the 50. 10 sec rest
8x75 kick/free - order easy/medium/sprint by the 25. 10 sec rest
4x300 pull descending 100s easy/med/max effort 20 seconds rest
8x50 easy/sprint 10 sec rest your choice of stroke
300 warm down
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Old 21 May 2017, 12:31
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Your workout is 2000 yards and half of that is warm up. If you are going to continue with the 10 100s, work in more drills. Focus on extension is essential to minimize repititive use injury: and breathing is critical to the whole shebang:

You are using a lot of pull bouy which may be an indicator that your kick is crap and also, unless your form is on point, of future shoulder problems.

You've been doing that work out long enough to have a solid foundation. Consider adding a set of 5x 200s. The 200 is great for basic endurance work and helping you identify parts of your stroke to focus your drills on (does your kick start to suck after 100, does your breathing go to shit after 150, does your stroke get real short after the 100, etc...)

Good luck.

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Old 22 May 2017, 11:00
diverescue diverescue is offline
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A couple of freestyle drills you can mix in include dragging your fingertips along the top of the water (this encourages you to bring your elbows out first, instead of straight arm chopping at the water), and dragging your thumbs up your side. For example, you could do sets of 4 x 50s Freestyle, Thumbs, Fingertips, Freestyle.

Also consider doing a timed set of laps, like 50 yards on the 1 minute. If you get your 50 done in 45 seconds you get 15 seconds of rest, if you get your 50 done in 55 seconds, you only get 5 seconds of rest. This encourages you to keep up a solid pace, rather than a guaranteed amount of rest after each lap.

Are you doing any kick board work? The old adage of "never skip leg day" applies in the pool too.
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Old 22 May 2017, 22:40
DaveP DaveP is offline
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Outstanding feedback; thanks and keep it coming.
Answering Tracy and TFG, all free so far. Since initial focus was breath, it made me dial my exhale and penalized poor effort, esp by the end of sets of 100. If I concentrate on max exhaling now, I'm pulling smoother, fewer strokes per length, and considerably less recovery time; mostly just to pull fins on and off now, which remains helpful so I can keep track of laps. Ficus, again.
I can mix in breast and back, esp given how much kick work they'd provide. I'd have to see how the shoulder tolerates the backstroke reach, though. B-fly, FTS. Three things in the water I'm retarded about are flip turns, bilat breathing, and butterfly. Someone would dart me with a benzo thinking I'm having a seizure.

I like the sidestroke idea. Way back in college I ended up taking WSI and then staying for two semesters of something called 'endurance swimming' for PE from the same instructor. He had us in part doing side/towed drills - each other, brick, or a fabric drogue. Sucked (I hurled after more than a few of these morning sessions), but so good, too. I can easily rig something up for this.

Bodiebot, thanks for the specifics. Timer's next, got one; you and diverescue are right about working timed laps or rests.
My 10m targets had been - get back to the pool, get up to a mile, get to 30min for the mile. First mile day was 40-something, this Sunday was 32, most from eliminating recovery, some from improved stroke. Now I can parse a bit. My 'warmup' 1000 has evolved into graduating effort per 100, but your ladder up x 25, etc sounds like a better compression of this. I also hear you on the breathing; getting to the point NOT out of breath between sets feels good, but not helpful in the long haul. Time to extend this.

entire post, especially this: does your kick start to suck after 100, does your breathing go to shit after 150, does your stroke get real short after the 100, etc...)
Yep, my kick is crap and I'm a little disturbed you've been watching me. You're absolutely right about 100 being too short at this point to reveal weaknesses.
Hate the kickboard, always have. I'll start, since you've all brought it up...
Using the lap fins mostly to generate more stress on my feet and ankles, since I don't run as much; it is also keying me to kick from the core, which should translate into better technique when barefoot?
Thoughts on 2/4/6 kick rate??

Good technique drills, diverescue. Working on a smoother recovery phase, pulling with a higher/bent elbow, and pulling for a full stroke. The thumb trick would be helpful with all of that.

TL;DR = thanks again. Will keep grinding away.
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Old 22 May 2017, 23:14
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MountainBum MountainBum is offline
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Things that helped me in the pool while trying to better my CSS and freestyle.

- Watching Terry Laughlin's Total Immersion videos for freestyle. Lame videos (at least a few years back they were) but worth it to get a sense of what neutral balance looks like.

- 360 buoyancy awareness: good drill for this is doing laps with legs only, arms at sides, while rotating and breathing, pausing for a few seconds at 90/180/270/360, and maintaining neutral buoyancy throughout rolls and breaths.

- Above but integrate strokes into the equation, continue to focus on maintaining neutral balance.

- Two long swims per week and two sprint sessions, starting at 1000m for longs and working up to 4k+ over 6 months. Sprints working up to 10x200 across same timeframe.

Then there comes a certain point where you just gotta grind.
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Old 22 May 2017, 23:57
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This the the book my tri coach recommended when I was spinning up for Ironman:

You'll get mixed reviews on Terry Laughlin, but anyone I've seen follow his method consistently improves their times. I read his book, but never took the time to follow his workouts. I was always trying to cram in as much distance as I could in as little time as possible, and that meant following the workouts I was given by the coach.

I'd have to look at my form drills to remember all the stuff I did. One arm pulls, finger drag, etc. and remember to fully rotate. You'll cut the water better.
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Old 23 May 2017, 20:52
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Butterfly stroke:

How to:
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Old 23 May 2017, 21:15
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Medic4070 Medic4070 is offline
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One drill set I got from my time on a Masters team that I like, is:

50 drill/150 swim, repeat as necessary. You'll burn up some energy doing the drill sets, but then recover while swimming.

A drill I like is swimming with closed fists. It really makes you focus on your "catch" and how you can feel the water with your forearms. If you REALLY want to kick your ass, try swimming while holding a wiffle ball in each hand. That sucks.

(I almost wrote something about liking "fist drills", then realized the jackassery that would cause...with a 50/50 shot of ultimately getting the thread locked. Glad I caught that...)
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Old 24 May 2017, 06:01
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HighDragLowSpeed HighDragLowSpeed is offline
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Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
Focus on extension is essential to minimize repititive use injury: and breathing is critical to the whole shebang:
Thanks for posting these. In addition to an outside pool, my condo has a heated 25 yard indoor lap pool that I use regularly. I found a bunch of good nuggets for improvement in those links and in the 20 mins or so that I spent watching some of the videos linked to them.
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Old 25 May 2017, 07:05
DaveP DaveP is offline
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Thanks, Tracy - we'll see...
Mr. Spice Weasel, thanks as well; drill binder's been ordered, looks helpful for directing motivation.

2.5K yds, 45min yest. Ditched the pull buoy for all but the paddle sprints, per Jimbo shaming, and added 2 x 50 of kickboard, 1 early and 1 at warmdown, per, well, everybody. Some noteworthy leg cramps resulted - must be working.

After the first 2 as a true warmup, worked the 100s into drill/swim sets: either breathing (q 4-6 strokes for 25, then q 2 back and repeat) or sprint down/swim back and repeat. The swim lengths still allowed me to transition w/o much breath recovery, but forearms and back got noticeably more workout.
Extended the # of 50s max effort, trying to maintain fewer breaths per length; harder after pushing earlier > good!

Working on finding maybe an evening for a third, shorter workout. Like MB says, maybe a sprint session, or specific drills, or maybe just a steady side/CSS for distance. Also found a couple rope bags and stuff sacks of various sizes to experiment as a pull drogue for one-armed side.

Dig it.
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Old 27 May 2017, 08:33
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Gunk Gunk is offline
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Some drills that have helped me are catch-ups and one arm swimming. Do do a catch-up you put both hands in above your head, you do one stroke bringing your hand back to position above your head, then do the other arm. I think it helps lengthen the stroke and facilitates efficient body position.
I also like to swim freestyle down and breast stroke back. I think the breast stroke return helps me get higher in the water on the freestyle length.
You may wish to try zoomers stubby fins for sprint training. You can get some high speeds and your heart rate will be high as well. Good for use with a kick board as well.
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Old 28 May 2017, 22:37
DaveP DaveP is offline
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Schedule allowed back-to-back pool days this weekend, so did another 2.5K yest, just over 40min which felt good; and then some leg and drill trials today, seeing what works. Bonus was the rain predicted earlier in the week held off, so got some dot torture trigger time in after.

Gunk's catchup drill and some of MountainBum's buoyancy ideas, mostly with a mini-kickboard. Damn but it doesn't take much loss of body position to have momentum go to hell, esp if not supported by a good kick.
Found this vid:
The swimmer at 4:06 is hauling, one-armed. I suck.

Took the dive fins and did 1000 steady with the kickboard, just to see what gets worked that doesn't with bare feet; already I'm feeling more upper leg/hip use, which means I'm probably whipping from the knee down w/o fins. May have to start lunges and flutters on the hard...
Did side with a brick, which was OK, and with a stuff sack for a drag, not great. One more idea for a drogue to try.

Waiting on Azatty's workout guide, then will try to mash up a weekly plan.
Have a quiet day tomorrow, if you can.
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Old 28 December 2018, 08:33
DaveP DaveP is offline
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Found this helpful for tips brought up by diverescue, MountainBum, and Gunk, and efficient movement from rotation during freestyle.
Skip to about 4:20.

Also like this for working on maintaining pace and rhythm; she's a machine.

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