Lessons, coaching or TI to get a faster crawl?

My crawl really is a crawl, and it won't be fast enough to avoid the cut-off if I'm ever gonna do IM.

How much increase in speed have people managed?

Tried a coaching session the other night, but it didn't seem very intensive, really - he just said I needed floppier ankles, and not to splay my arms out too much. I kinda thought I'd be speeding along in no time ...?!

I've signed up for lessons, now - in a group of 5, so perhaps they'll be a bit quicker?

But the youtube clips of TI look fab - but there aren't any teachers around here. What's the quickest speed fix, do you think?


  • Join a local Tri club...


    Mine is £30 a year and then £4 a swim session, everything from can't swim upto internationals (12 different sessions a week)

  • Go on the swim smooth website - http://www.swimsmooth.com/ 

    The tips, animation and forums there have been a huge boost for me. That along with having a coached swim session with the tri club. The lessons should help a lot. Just remember there is no easy way to get quick fast. It can be difficult to adopt a new technique at first takes a lot of work to get your fitness up regardless of technique. Don't give up and it will come.

    The kind of increases in speed you should be looking for can be as little as 1/2 second per length amounting to 15 seconds over 750m. I would also recommend setting out monthly targets for your 100m, 400m and 750m times and do one time trial in each distance per month. Its useful to track progress and provide motivation.

  • Its a long process, and I'm still very near the start of it!

    In a year I've gone from a one mile time of 47 mins to under 40 mins, but it has been slow and hard progress. Like others have said either continue with the coaching or join a tri-club that offer coached swimming for the best gains. I'd often ask the coach for just one bit of advice and then go off and hone that during my own sessions during the week - and then following week ask again. Other swimmers / tri-afferletes were also really helpful with just pointing out the odd thing for improvement.

    And B_Kins is right, most of my motivation over the winter came from WinterSwim (which is scheduled time trials at various distances) and seeing my times come down ever so slightly.

  • I'll have a look at the website - thanks, B_Kins, but just 1/2 a second per length? Is that per week, per month? Maybe I should look at IM as a retirement plan!

    You're right about joining a club - its just my local tri training sessions are at the wrong times for me to go.

    7 minutes off a mile - that's a great improvement, MovingAlong - how long did it take you to do that?

    Any tips for remembering how many lengths you've done?

  • The way i do it is i have a table with headings something like: 

    Distance - PB - Current Aim

    And i have it filled out for a range of distances from 50m up to 1,500m. Every time I do a TT I pick the PB that I'm least happy with and try to beat it. If i don't, its not a problem. If i do i'll update the Current Aim to be a bit quicker than my PB. This means that I can regularly meet my aims instead of aiming for something way out of my reach like 100m in 60 seconds. My PBs all tumbled for a couple of months and its gotten to the stage now where every second of a PB is hard fought.

    I have a garmin 910XT for counting lengths but I just count in my head and compare afterwards to see if i counted right.

  • Britrisky - I went from not being able to swim a single length FC in Jan 2011, to having some kind of technique with weekly lessons by about April time.

    I then did Great London Swim in June of 2011 in around 47 mins. A few weeks back I managed to swim 1900m in just under 42 minutes (admittedly with a little drafting). I'd feel capable of swimming around a 40 min mile on my own at the moment. So from 1 mile swim and taking about 7 minutes off, its taken near-on 12 months.

  • Oh, I see - that's pretty encouraging. 42 minutes? Double that is well within the cut-off time - are you planning on moving up to IM distance? I reckon I have a couple of years at least before my children are old enough for me to start really bumping up the training hours and getting serious about IM.

    I think my mile time is about an hour at the mo, but that is just a rough estimate because I kept losing count of my lengths! I think a couple of years might be enough to get that time down to within cut off. Just the 112 miles of pedalling to think about then ...!

    Garmin 910 - yes, I've seen that model in magazines, but that'll have to wait. I've spent a bit too much money on bike and wetsuit this month, and my 610 is still going strong. Think my spending's been capped for a little while!!

  • Brit - doing Outlaw in 4 weeks! Eek!

    Its probably been partly the IM training thats made significant improvements to my swimming. I did find going 3 times per week really helped improve things. I also spent a lot of time doing the drills from the Fink training plans. Although doing the drills won't be any good unless you're doing them right - which is where the coaching would come in.

    I'm very surprised no one else has come along roping you into doing an IM by now image

  • For a much cheaper option for lap counting, have a look at http://www.sportcount-europe.co.uk/index.php 

  • The sportcount jobbies are very good

    I have made improvements in swimming this year, that was down to a slight technique change so improvements all depend on what you are doing now

    There is some school of thought that states swimming twice a week to maintain and 3 times a week to improve ... not sure how accurate that is but I certainly find the more I swim the better I am and they dont have to be long sessions

  • Britrisky, I am a slow swimmer and did Outlaw last year. I was worried about cut off before the start.However I was often reminded that swimming in open water in a wetsuit is facster than a pool, and that not having to turn around every 25metres makes up a lot of time. Every time you turn you lose all forward momentum and have to start again.  On the day I swam approx 20minutes quicker than I would have calculated going by my pool time, comfortably within cut off.

    So on that theory, IM 2013 for you it is!!!

  • Britrisky - where are you based?  I know a fantastic swim smooth coach based in Salisbury if that was any good.  he is fantastic and offers video analysis in the pool and OW

  • If you areinLondon try Ray Gibbs at swim canary wharf.

    Before seeing him i was self taught...( IE just got in a pool and swam ) and did 1:33 without a wetsuit and 1: 25 ish with one

    With 6 filmed sessions, and me not doing all the recommended drills , and me only ever swimming 2 times a week, i am down to 1:11.

    I am gonna go back again when i can afford it

    The filming makes a lot of difference as you can immediately visualize what you are doing wrong and while you are in the pool you have demmos and clips of the correct way that you then try. Immediately seeing your attempt / getting feedback really helps getting an idea and feel of the correct stroke
  • I'm in Hull so a bit far from Salisbury / London!

    MovingAlong - hey, good luck with Outlaw, reckon that'll be my first IM event, if it's not Switzerland, which I've heard is pretty flat?! I'm guessing you'll be peaking now before the pre-race taper?

    Trogs & M..eldy - I liked the Sportcount idea, but this week I did alphabet counting - during each length I thought of words beginning with each letter of the alphabet. This worked really well, I didn't lose track of how many, did 26 twice then another 12 to make it up to a PB distance, in around 55 mins.

    And CD - did first OW swim on Thursday. First lap pretty scary but more confident on the second lap. Glad to have bitten the bullet now so will aim for an OW session every week AND start lessons next week. I'm definitely progressing - 2013? Well I'll see how the Oly goes in July first ...!
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