Beginners and Beyond


For those that swim (Read 405 times)


    I hadn't gotten around to making a new profile over here, but finally did so to weigh in on this question. Smile  Thanks for the unwitting push.


    I actually started swimming (Sept. 2011) before I started running (April 2012).  I'm certainly not an expert on either one.  I do think they complement each other well as far as working on endurance/lung power.  I usually swim 3 or 4 times a week, and usually a mile or so each time, and try to run 5 times a week but often it ends up being more like 3 or 4.  I agree that the breaststroke kick is hard on the knees; use sparingly!  Some people do breaststroke arms with a dolphin kick (ie., the kick used in the butterfly stroke) to take it easier on their knees.  But freestyle, backstroke, and straight kicking with a kickboard are all great and should not hurt at all.  And butterfly is great if you really want to get your heart pumping.


    A couple of other points you might want to know:  I find it helpful to gently bend my foot to stretch my the tops and bottoms of my feet before swimming (and as needed in the middle of a workout); this seems to help stave off the dreaded foot/calf cramps.  YMMV.  I seemed to get cramps more frequently when I first started; now that I make a point of stretching I hardly ever get them.  Also, I don't recommend swimming within a few hours after running.  I've tried this a few times and found swimming extremely laborious after a run; maybe it's the elevated heart rate or something.  But running even right after swimming seems to be ok, for me at least.  Nothing terrible that way.


    By the way, whenever I am sore after a long or really hard run, going to the pool the next day is the BEST way to make my legs feel better.  I find swimming way, way better than either a rest day or an easy run after a really hard day.


    Good luck and hope you enjoy swimming! Smile


    5k - 22:53  (May 2015)

    10k - 50:00 (unofficial; part of 20k race, March 2015); 50:33 (official; July 2016)

    HM - 1:48:40  (Apr. 2015)


    Chasing Muses

      Since this question is here, a quick hijack....


      I'm curious if this is a common occurance, since I WANT to swim more but this crappy experience really turned me off. We have a community aquatics center/gym that is a couple of miles from our house. I decided to sign us up for a 4-month membership this past spring so I could do laps, wife could do water aerobis classes, and son could swim around in the shallow area. It's an indoor facility with 10 25 meter lanes, 2 20 meter lanes and a shallow side, a gym, basketball courts, etc. Long story short, I signed up based on the lane availability hours on the website. I dont really care about sharing lanes but did make sure that there were favorable hours for lap swimming. So we join, and I find out that the lap swim hours on the website are (very) subject to change and that the "real" lane availability is posted on paper schedules by the lanes themselves. The reality was that there were water aerobics classes, team practices, and private lessons, that took up pretty much all of the lanes even when the paper schedules said that there would be lanes available for lap swim. So I spent several evenings sitting by the pool, pissed, waiting for a lane to free up from a private class. And the best case would be that I get 5-10 minutes to swim before the lane I was ablle to grab would get claimed for a scheduled aerobics class.


      Anyway, was just wondering if this was typical. I really want to get into triathalon, but I dont want to waste another wad of money on an experience like this, and wondered if this was common.

        I'm a lifeguard/swim instructor, and I teach the deep water exercise class at my pool/gym. With swimming, start short and slow, like starting running, and build from there. Aqua jogging with a flotation belt is a great workout, too. Smile


        Our pool has 6-25 yard lanes. Any lap swim time, lane 6 is for aqua jogging. TTh, 6:00am - 7:00 am, lanes 1 and 2 are shared with swim team. Other than that, swim team has its own practice time. Lap swim times are separate from swim team/water polo times (other than previously stated) and are separate from open swim time. Swim lessons happen after lap swim times in the morning, or shallow water during the rest of the day.


        Yes, you often have to share lanes - especially this time of year. Waiting for an empty lane will just be time in the hot tub. When there are two people, they can split the lane. As soon as 3 or more, we call for circle swimming. And when you see swim teamers sharing 10 to a lane, you don't complain about 3 or 4.  Smile

        Marathons are habit-forming...

        "I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."

        Philippians 4:13, NLT

        Just B.S.

          I haven't been swimming in months but I"m starting back at the pool tomorrow.

          I usually do 3-4 duathlons each season and want to get more into tri's.

          Plus it's warm!!


            @ LRS:

            Karen is right on lane sharing. It isn't bad really and I would just try to be considerate and find out which lanes are for newer swimmers (i.e. slower) and which ones are not. Nothing will irritate someone more than if they swim a 1:20/100 and someone like me who is a 1:57/100 on a super great day swimmer plops in and starts messing with their mojo. I try to be respectful of that.


            For triathlon, see if you can find a group that is tri specific. There will be a lot and there tends to be a lot more newbs in those groups, so it is much more relaxed. If you join your local tri club, they will usually tell you about those groups, plus they tend to do a lot of open water swims together which is really key if you want to get into triathlons. Most races are done in open water and I can tell you now (from my own fun experiences with panic attacks and turrible swim legs) that it is a 180 from pool swimming.


            Either way, enjoy the swimming. It is tough, but to me, when I get the times down and it falls into place, it is more rewarding than running to me.

            Singer who doesn't run.

              I swim a couple of times per week.  I don't like getting my face wet, so I have nothing like a normal stroke, and I am nothing like speedy.  I have forward motion, and that's about it.  I bet I'm hilarious to watch.  But swimming makes me smile, which is all I really want out of my exercise, so it's all good.  I've had to share a lane before, but not with more than one other person, so that makes me happy -- I know I'm slower than most, so circle swimming with me in a lane would likely be problematic.  I'm at a university gym, so I'll be interested to see how things shake out when the students get back and start off a new semester.  With them gone, I often have the entire pool to myself, which is a little weird.

              Anyway, I can't tell that swimming has helped my running per se, but it makes me happy.

              When it's all said and done, no one remembers how far we have run.  The only thing that matters is how we have loved.


                Just resumed in preparation for an indoor tri in Feb.  I have a new respect for swimmers & triathletes!  I haven't swam seriously in over 20 years but it's just like riding a bike Wink


                Good luck with your training.

                Will run for scenery.

                  I think it's a great idea to take lessons.  In swimming, if your form isn't good you just splash and get exhausted and don't go anywhere.  The tiniest little corrections help you learn to really move. And once you can do lap after lap at a relaxed pace, it feels so good.  I don't train hard but I do burn off a ton of calories, feel great afterwards and sleep like a log.


                  My big gripe with swimming is pool access.  As mentioned, pool time can be tight, available hours sporadic and poorly communicated, and sharing lanes can be a bother. You have to be willing to put up with more hassles than running, etc.  It would be great to live near (warm!) open water.


                  As far as combining it with running, I think the only issue is overall fatigue/exhaustion. You can only do so much at once. Otherwise you'd be a triathlete!

                  Stupid feet!

                  Stupid elbow!

                  Shakedown Street

                    About 5K a week now.


                    Grew up around water. Could do all sorts of strokes (not right), and not phobic of it, just could not make it more than 25/50m in the pool. Few swim classes and I do 1.2 K over a 30 min lunch break.


                    Seriously, it's wicked cool to swim on an off day. Your not burning many calories-not like running. But damn you will feel much better recovery wise. Cardio it has done very little for me, but it has really helped mentally and recovery wise.


                    Oh, btw...there is a Garmin Swim for lap pools. Works well.


                    Stick with it and put it in your routine. Swimmer girls have sexy shoulders! Accept that you will look like a tool for the first few weeks of attempts. Accept no progression. Get a real swimsuit for laps!

                    Started-5/12, RWOL refugee,5k-24:23 (1/12/13),10K-55:37(9/15/12),HM-1:52:59(3/24/13)


                      I can't wait to start swimming again on Monday.  I let it fall by the wayside thanks to marathon training.


                        I officially signed up today! I will be swimming on an off day. There are two days that are available for Master's swim per week. I'm very excited and can't wait to build some strength into my my upper body. Thanks for all the input here. Smile

                        Running is my mental-Ctrl-Alt-Del. 

                        Shakedown Street

                          I officially signed up today! I will be swimming on an off day. There are two days that are available for Master's swim per week. I'm very excited and can't wait to build some strength into my my upper body. Thanks for all the input here. Smile


                          is it a private swim class, beginner class or master's thing?


                          Oh, and I second the 'eating the side of your house'. 13 miles, not hungry, 30 minutes in the pool...damn.


                          one last piece of advice...and it helped me (from my coach who has 3 gold and 1 bronze and a former WR), keep your mouth open (dumb face) when underwater and learn to breath from your throat. This relaxes your neck, shoulder, upper back.


                          Have fun and keep us posted!


                          FWIW, you can drag your legs on freestyle, no kick, he had me do this for about 2 months at first (if your worried about the injury).

                          Started-5/12, RWOL refugee,5k-24:23 (1/12/13),10K-55:37(9/15/12),HM-1:52:59(3/24/13)



                            one last piece of advice...and it helped me (from my coach who has 3 gold and 1 bronze and a former WR), keep your mouth open (dumb face) when underwater and learn to breath from your throat. This relaxes your neck, shoulder, upper back.




                            You mean she has to put her head underwater? That's so scaaaary Shocked

                              I swim, and I find that it helps balance my activity and promotes recovery (from other training) while still being active.


                              Couple of things that I've learned....

                              1.  Swimming should be done at "marathon pace" regardless of the amount of time you're swimming.  Most people learning to swim will inadvertently swim at "200 meter pace" and get tired out quickly.  With that being said, it'll take time figuring out the pacing and the breathing and the rhythm.

                              2.  Swimming shouldn't hurt the neck.... If it does, you're doing it wrong.  Rotate your body to breathe.  Go to to get great baseline pointers regardless whether you're a beginner or an intermediate swimmer.  Great source of information.

                              3.  Triathlon swimming is different from pool swimming, but triathletes can spend the majority of their training in a pool.  If you're looking into multi-sport, you may want to be cautious of the non-free style swim strokes and drills.  Nothing wrong with them, but, I personally don't find much value in them.

                              4.  In response to LRS, ... you'll need to learn how to share a lane.

                              2017 Goals:

                              #1: Do what I can do (200+ training days, 200+ aerobic hours). 

                              #2: Race shape (1/2 marathon, 2 half Ironmans, marathon)

                              #3: Prepare for 2018


                              Chasing Muses

                                Please re-read my post. I stated that I have no problem with sharing lanes. The issue I was asking about pertained more to issue of posted lane availability vs real lane availability. If the schedule says that there are 6 lanes open, and 5 are taken up by a team session not on the schedule, and 1 is taken up by a private lesson, and there are 5 pissed off swimmers sitting on the bench waiting for lap time, I will be sharing a bench, not a lane. I was asking if THAT was a common occurance, not simply sharing a lane.