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Unfortunately the issue with nose clips is that they are uncomfortable, require me to stop swimming to adjust them which breaks my momentum, but worst of all, they loosen after 2 to 3 swimming sessions and end up flooding the nose while flip turning.

In short, they are not sustainable and I need to ease of them ASAP. Luckily I'm getting semi-descent at the flip turn but still need to master my controlled exhalation if I was to ditch the nose clip completely which is the #plan now.

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I finally got descent at the flip turn! I was able to properly time it by the wall and execute it semi-well! Most importantly, I wasn't afraid of doing it anymore #milestone

BUT the catch is I was using the nose clips that I bought to avoid water filling up my sinuses. I know it's somewhat cheating but as I planned last time, I want to perfect doing it quickly and fearlessly because this keeps me in control of the move and minimizes the time that my sinuses will be vulnerable to water flooding them since I #plan to eventually ditch the nose clip (I look like a freak with them lol!).

The other amazing thing that happened is that my swimming was so much relaxed and effortless...actually the best swimming session I ever had. Lots of #lessons learned today and I think I know why, it's because:

  • I was NOT nervous or fearful since I fought my flip turn 'daemons' and won the battle finally. I've always felt bitter in the pool when I know I can improve by doing something but too afraid to actually do it (life lesson too!)
  • I was exhaling from my mouth instead of my nose in a very rhythmic way. So instead of continuously exhaling from my nose, I was exhaling from my mouth in short bursts only during the 'catch phase' of my stroke, and I would exhale strongly right before turning my head for a breath which  I read somewhere that is what many elite swimmers do (against the conventional wisdom of constant exhalation which seems to stress me out actually).
  • I was sore from doing heavy squats and lunges yesterday so I noticed that I am NOT contracting my hip and glute muscles which helped keep them relaxed. To my surprise I felt like this way my legs are not struggling to stay afloat.
  • The flip turn allows me to give my body a break from being stiff so I started looking forward to a nice stretch.
  • I've been doing a conscious effort to keep my elbow high during the swim to better recruit my lats...well it's paying off now :) I notice that I am leading with my elbow which seems to work best (no stiff shoulders or traps after my swim sessions!)

It's funny just 2 days ago I was cleaning my Youtube history from all swimming videos that I watched before as seeing more recommendations for swimming videos stressed me out because I felt like maybe swimming is not for me. But today everything finally started making sense. It kind of reminded me of this meme:

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Despite a few more attempts at the flip turn I can't get over the annoying fear and pain of water filling up my sinuses. The combination of that, as well as the lack of experience in doing the turn is making it difficult to constantly exhale throughout the whole move. As a result I decided to bring in some training wheels in the form of a nose clip that I just ordered today. #setback

My #plan is to practice and perfect the flip turn until I can do it with no hesitation and fear with the clips, then I will gradually take it off. The danger is that I get used to it too much so I will try to mix both in the same session or on alternate sessions until I no longer need it. Curious to see how it will go.

This week I'm swimming daily to get more immersed until it's second nature. When I go back to California on March 25 I will probably only swim once a week on the weekend so it's very important that I progress fast on the flip turn and improving my 1 mile to sub 30 minutes.

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Today I tried something new and interesting. It all started when I noticed the guy swimming on the adjacent lane. He looked so relaxed and it felt like he's cooling down as he would take slow but long strokes and barely flap his legs. I looked under the water and his form was absolutely rhythmic...more like a dance. Now the huge #epiphany that I experienced was when I started swimming next to him, judging from how slow he 'seemed', I didn't expect from him to be so much faster than me! WAY faster! I was puzzled on how could that be, I was practically sprinting, doing at least double his stroke rate and flapping my legs like a motorboat. My legs were definitely not sinking either but he was still faster than me.

I then proceeded to imitate his style as I've heard from a few "Swimming Immersion" experts that smooth freestyle can increase your speed while reducing your stroke rate to about 11 strokes for every 25 yards. I started taking long strokes with a little bit of gliding and counted around 17 strokes which was down from my usual 24 strokes/25 yds. I tried a few more times but still got the same rate until I started focusing on the underwater pull. I really contracted my lats and explosively pushed hard while keeping everything else relaxed like the other guy (calling him Mr smooth from now on haha). And suddenly I was able to cover more distance per stroke and felt so much relaxed like the videos I've seen of Terry from "Swimming Immersion". More importantly, I actually went down to 12 strokes per 25 yards! I didn't measure my speed but I was so much more relaxed, used less energy and could go on and on. I did feel like I was going slower than usual. As a result I #plan to experiment with this type of stroke in my routine from now on. Next time I do my 1 mile swim I will do it exclusively with this method and measure my speed. I'll see if I can beat my 36 minutes per mile time.

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I had a coaching session with Aboudi today to practice the flip turn.

I was successful in getting over the fear of doing the flip turn. I also figured out the correct technique that I can work on improving next time now that the fear is gone:

  • Tuck my neck in my chest
  • Open the palms and push the water over my head
  • Once I'm upside down, I do a dolphin kick in that position (with hands stretched while squeezing my head)
  • After pushing into my dolphin position I use my hips to rotate my body back in position to continue swimming

I did several flip turns (stationary and while moving) but I wasn't able to time it correctly to also push off the wall after it was done so that is something I #plan on working on in a couple of days.

Another #recurring_problem that I #plan to fix is water getting deep in my nose which isn't a good feeling. I know the conventional advice is to constantly exhale but I found it difficult to do once I'm upside down. I will give it another shot and see if it gets better with practice. One other piece of advice I got from a Youtube video is to 'trickle breath out' to avoid running out of air too quickly so will definitely give that a shot. I really don't want to end up with nose clips!

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I had another 1 mile swimming session but my #1mile_time was also 36 minutes. Unlike last time though, I was able to bilaterally breath and I wasn't dizzy or too tired after the swim. I also felt stronger towards the end of the swim which might indicate that I wasn't going as fast as I should in the beginning so there is potential to improve my time. My streamline was also feeling more effortless and my neck wasn't sore. Seems like my previous #plan to avoid over-tucking my head forward has solved that problem so I will keep that up.

I have signed up for 2 extra sessions with coach Aboudi as I want to work on the 2 most pressing issues:

  • I want to learn that damn flip turn!!
  • I want to improve my underwater pull. It's the part of my swimming that doesn't feel right and natural as I would hope.

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Today I swam my first continuous (no rest) 1 mile (in a 25yard pool) swim. My #1mile_time was 36 minutes.

A good #goal to aspire for meanwhile is 25 minutes as long as I keep a good form throughout.

I felt a bit dizzy after getting from the water and I feel like my neck hurts a bit during the streamline as my head is tucked in forward between the stretched arms. #lesson learned here is to keep the head more neutral as it rests between the arms.

I should also try harder for bilateral breathing which I was forcing. I feel like on one side I over rotate to breath so I end up avoiding breathing on that side which is not good. #recurring_problem

I was able to incorporate the dolphin streamline that I learned last week but I still didn't do my flip turns which is still my major #recurring_problem

Earlier this week I gave a go on stationary flipping just to get over the fear of flipping in water. It worked so that's the positive thing; however, I got a bit dizzy and I had a bad feeling in my sinuses kind of like after you vomit so I didn't attempt a second turn unfortunately. I read a few tips about continuously exhaling from your nose during the flip to avoid inhaling water but I found it hard to perform during the turn (when it's most important).

I will attempt a bunch of more flip turns in the next session and if I still struggle with it I will bring back coach Aboudi for help #plan

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In today's swim session I was finally able to swim for 30 pool lengths (750 yards) non stop and without tiring out! #milestone

This is huge as I used to get tired after the 4 pool length. The #lesson that got solidified is to be mindful of my breathing patterns and allow enough time to inhale every 3 or 4th stroke. I also noticed that after doing 4 laps I got into a flow state that made the swim much more effortless.

I would say though that the main #recurring_problems that I need to address very soon is improving my streamlining and learn the tumble turn. The streamlining that I'm doing right now is semi-OK but I noticed that my head would hurt as if I'm headbutting the water so my #plan is to watch a few videos on that. Also I'm beginning to see the importance of learning the tumble turn as that would make for a less abrupt and faster transition in between laps (will watch videos on that as well).

My medium term #plan is to build up for a 70 pool length swim (i.e. 1 mile) but only after I refine the techniques a bit more

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Had another coaching session with coach Aboudi today at Dearborn's civic center.

The biggest #lesson I learned today from my coach is to spend an extra half a second breathing when turning my head out of the water. This allows me to fully inhale and stay relaxed as I'm swimming. Once I tried it today I noticed that I wasn't tiring as quickly as I used to and my coach mentioned that I even got faster when I did that.

Another thing I worked on is improving my body rotation as I'm swimming. I found that performing the rotation drill on one side, then swimming regularly for a lap then practicing the drill on the other side followed by a regular swim helped solidify the concept a bit more. #lesson

My current #sprint_timing is 42seconds per 50 yards.

Currently I'm doing the following #drills in the beginning of my swim session:

  • Kick Drill: Hands to sides. No rotation. Kicking constantly.
  • Rotation Drill: Hands to sides. With rotation. Kicking. Bilateral breathing.
  • Zipper drill: (hand trace armpit before catching forward). To improve recovery and lead with elbow.
  • Swim with swim paddle to avoid hitting the breaks on entering water.
  • Pull Drill: One arm stroke. Same arm through the rest of the length.
  • Catch Pause Drill: Pause before catch.
  • Exit Drill: Focus on hand gliding past the hip and into the thigh
  • High elbow catch (catch kick drill) (swim with elbow bent, hands point down)

This is my first #progress_video that my coach shot today:

The biggest #recurring_problems that I see here are:

  • I'm overextending during the catch phase
  • I need to adopt a dolphin kick streamline instead of kicking off the wall as you see here. I can clearly see how this is slowing down in this clip.
  • I need to learn the tumble turn, not only because it looks cooler (hah!), but it allows for a faster swim.

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I've been recently getting exhausted when swimming even though I'm sure my cardio capacity is pretty solid.

I have learned to constantly exhale under the water as I swim but according to this video, I might be overdoing it. My #plan is to follow their advice and slowly exhale during my stroke and only speed up to empty my lungs right before turning for a breath. Curious to see if that helps my endurance.