Swim advice

Training for my second IM distance race.- but the first was so long ago i’m basically starting from scratch.

Ok, so my swim form is not bad, but I’m terribly, terribly slow ( 6 mins for about 200m open water).-
I’m currently swimming the 200, then maybe 30 seconds rest then another 200.- repeat until cold ( about 1600m total).

Am I better off just banging out the lengths and hoping that speed will follow as the distance continues to build up to the 3.8k.

or focussing on trying to find out why i’m so slow.and trying to fix that first?

Current theories are the “glide” phase is far too long or that I just don’t stroke fast enough.

At that speed its going to be mostly technique, so banging out the lengths isnt going to see you make massive gains because its not fitness that is holding you back.

Find someone who knows what they are doing and can give you means to fix your stroke.

I had no swimming background and when I started I could only do 2 lengths. Couple of sessions and the difference was huge

You really need your stroke looking at.

Banging out lengths may give marginal improvement but swimming at that speed while having an engine that could do an Ironman is a big tell that there is a major issue (or two) with the stroke.

The thing with swimming is that what you think you are doing in the water almost certainly bears no resemblance to what you are doing so self diagnosing is often a blind alley.

The good news is if you address those issues they’ll be a leap in speed for no extra effort and indeed the whole thing will feel a lot more pleasant.

If you can get a video up I’m sure there’s a few round here that could give a few pointers.

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I can certainly upload the videos.- I could also offer accommodation for some winter Sun/Training in Tenerife to anyone who can give me a hand in person.

3mins/100m = 1hr 54mins.
Easily inside the cut off.

But you should probably be getting to 2:00/100m with a half decent stroke.

I’d say deffo worth getting your stroke looked at, as if you just keep bashing out the lengths, you’ll ingrain those bad habits and will then find it harder to get quicker than your current speed.


Always happy to come to Tenerife to do some coaching…

as others have said, get quality feedback and direction on technique will pay dividends…


As suggested some clips of me swimming…-- Swim video 310122 - YouTube


I think a few of us will come it with a number of suggestions so before you start trying everything I would work one or two things.

Firstly your head position, you are looking straight down and your head is quite high. Aim to look a little bit ahead of you and try and lower your head a bit. A high head causes low legs. Low legs = drag. When you turn to breathe your head is over rotating a lot. You want to aim for a split screen, one goggle out of the water and one still in it with your head flat.

Your kick looks quite weak, and when you turn to breathe your feet are drifting apart from each other, which creates a lot of a drag. Look for some flutter kick drills. Your feet are low in the water. Improving the kick and your head position will solve that and I think you will see massive improvement, because there will be much less drag when your body is flat in the water. You dont want to to be causing massive splash but your feet need to be just breaking the water when you kick.

Your arm recovery looks good. One other I did notice and its more prominent with your left hand but you are bending the hands up towards the end of your glide. That is putting the brakes on. This though I think you shouldn’t worry about for now. Get your body position right and then focus on the subtleties of the stroke.

Thanks for the feedback , I’ll give those things a try…

@fes2, check out Swimsmooth for a wealth of information.

The founder also appeared on the Oxygen Addict podcast a couple of weeks ago which again was helpful.

there’s quite a bit in here to unpack, but will look when i get time later…

Edited to add: would you like feedback on here or privately?

Public feedback is fine. Thanks…

Others are far more qualified than me, but it’s not horrendous by any means. With the swim pace you stated in the first post, I was expecting a lot worse! Which is good, because I think you can make some big gains quite easily.

The big thing that immediately jumped out at me is you’re effectively swimming catch-up. I would say you need to start your next stroke much earlier, ie. well before the recovery arm is entering the water which is pretty much what is happening at the moment.

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That’s what my husband says.- But I can’t work out how to fix it…I have been trying to get to the forearm vertical part of the catch when the hand enters the water, but i think my recovering hand just pauses longer rather than the glide hand starting sooner…I just can’t seem to work out the right cues trigger each phase …

I think for that you need to work on your turn over. Using a Tempo Trainer on the cadence setting would be useful for getting that tempo up. You need to increase very slowly though or your stroke will fall apart.

This was and to a point still is my problem, I worked on drills to practice parts of the stroke but then when I put them back together there’s pauses everywhere and my brain/muscle memory is holding me back - good luck in fixing it

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I would agree with this, and like @stenard I’m not the best qualified to give advice. What I see in your video, really doesn’t look too bad. There are lots of areas to improve, but I would say that the average Ironman athlete has significantly more issues than you.

I am guessing you have been coached using Total Immersion Technique, rather than Swim Smooth. You try to glide, however, your body position is creating lots of drag, so glide isn’t efficient. I am sure that @Hammerer or @explorerJC will make some great suggestions

I am a weaker swimmer, and been doing a lot to improve.

We need to work something out; training camp :wink:


This may be information overload and Id generally address in this order over many months

Body Position
Body position is quite good, nice and high in the water, legs manage to stay relatively flat, How do you float? effortlessly or do the legs drop a bit?
practice some push and glides off the way to help the body learn the perfect hydrodynamic position, arms brushing ears, hand over hand link thumb under. Try to be more raw spaghetti not cooked!

Kick is from the knees, using something like torpedo kicks or even kickboard practice kicking from the hips.
Kick timing is a 2 beat, this works Ok in a wetsuit but needs a more powerful efficient kick without, so think about trying a 6 beat so each arm pull 3 kicks think in your head 1,2,3 1,2,3 for each rotation. Kick timing drills , dryland waltz…I still use this after 10 odd years of this video being made! @pacha loves this :wink:

The arm pull has a good high elbow, make sure you really grab that water though and pull it back, lock that elbow in place and try to pull the water back. at the end keep the hand facing backwards and not pulling up, start the exit to recovery a little sooner so the hand is not pressing up on the water. This is more timing and repeated below but as others noticed you are doing a “catch up” stroke, you should be starting the catch pull as the other arm starts to recover, think “continuous swimming”, an arm should never hang out front in front crawl, it should always be making progress. Because of this the elbows drop, this creates drag and makes it harder to get in the catch position. The elbow should always remain above the wrist which is above the hand

The head is moving too much to breath, if you look every breath causes a loss of balance and the legs to flay wide. Try to keep one goggle in the water at all times, Popeye mouth to breath, rotate as a full body, , look a little further forward in between breaths , approx 3m in front and down.

As with the arms post your timing is out, causing “catch up” stroke swimming. This is also directly as a result of your low stroke rate, you are around 42 Strokes Per Minute, that needs to be closer to 70, ideally more. This must be built up slowly though and not at the expense of taking more strokes in a length. Get the basic stroke correct then up the rate slowly.


Oh and just to add, I have a list as long as that for a 15year old that just swam a SCM 200fly in 2:07 at the counties, so don’t worry.