Why Can’t You Be Easier?

Over the years I have taken part in many different sports, including football, cricket, cycling, running, climbing etc but I have never found any sport as frustrating as swimming. It must be the anti-christ of all sports.

The thing with swimming is that in principal it is simple, propel yourself throw water using a combination of your arms and legs not forgetting to breathe. In practice it seems to change the rules every 5 minutes just so you can’t quite crack it.

When I first decided to do a triathlon, I couldn’t swim, I accept that that is not a great starting point, but I was prepared to learn. I went to the pool, realised I could get myself around in a fashion and then sought help. I took on board all the advice I was given initially and things got slightly better. So far so good, or at least slow progress was being made.

I then thought that the way to get better would be to invest in some coaching, I did that, and yes it has helped I follow the sessions and for the most part there is improvement. However, I still don’t feel I am progressing as quickly as I should.

I have been told that the key is patience, and I know that you can’t expect to become a competent swimmer in only a few months but the rate of progress seems to be slow.

I have experimented, and I have found that if I don’t use bi-lateral breathing I can swim further, but the point is, that is not doing it properly. and if I go down that route then what was the point of trying to learn properly.

Perhaps the answer is to just try and get through the swims as best as I can, and then work towards a good technique and aim for longer distances next year, who knows I don’t.

The conclusion from this is that swimming is not easy and I want it to be!

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3 thoughts on “Why Can’t You Be Easier?

  1. Stick with it Steve, i might sound like an old broken record but you really do have to be much more patient. Learning to swim good efficient front crawl can be a MASSIVE undertaking for a lot of individuals particularly when the foundation has been extremely poor or non existent. Its like learning to drive, some people just get it straight away and some spend thousands on lessons and numerous test failures. The problem at the moment is youve thrown yourself in there expecting to do big races this year ( a very male thing to do !)when taking a more long term view on your triathlon and particularly your swimming development would be much more beneficial to you, this year should really be all about learning to swim properly, its going to take time because essentially you have to start from scratch and re build your whole stroke. If you do this it will bear fruit next year i assure you. If you just push on and revert back to your old technique you might get through your races but it wont be pretty and you will just reinforce all those bad habits we identified. It will also prevent you developing any further because you will hit a brick wall. If you do things in the right order, learn good habits and efficient technique this opens the door to so much more future development of your stroke and essentially your speed. Everyone experiences the “bilateral hump” but you have to persist for the time being, your stroke was just too asymmetrical and lop sided, go back to one side and you will just revert back to type and have a very inefficient stroke. In a nut shell its the people that who are the most persistent and keep trying that end up getting there in the end, if you think theres an easier way or it should happen sooner then you will be very much mistaken. For some and bear it just takes time and patience. When you look at people who are really good at triathlon, what you dont see is the hundreds and thousands of hours they put in trying to become better…they definitely didnt give up at the first hurdle and neither will you. Keep plugging away, would be good to see you again soon.

    • Thanks Julian, you are right, part of the problem is I want to swim properly as if I was happy to just go back to the old ways I don’t think it would bother me. I terms of the races entered I do have the option of deferring my place and I wouldn’t go ahead if I wasn’t happy, there is also the possibility of a shorter distance which would probably make things easier. We will see, in the meantime I will stick to the sessions and see what happens.

  2. If it helps often men do find it harder to get to grips with swimming than women, especially if you’ve not really done or been a swimmer in your childhood! A friend of mine is really strong but struggled for a long time with his technique, and part of that was his ‘heavy legs’! I recommend training with a pullbuoy (the peanut shaped float that goes between your legs) as it will help you concentrate on just your arms and allows you to do bi-lateral breathing. You will be faster if you don’t breath, but unless you’re doing a 50 sprint that won’t cut it in longer distance races. I recommend watching lots of technique vids on youtube and keep at it. You seem to have a lot of determination so keep it up. Post again about your swimming progression if you have time, it’s really interesting.

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