Masters Swimming

Had a nice, long, and slow swim yesterday. There’s been something on my mind lately and this is exactly what I needed. It was chilly yesterday so I had the lane all to myself. Did flip turns for about a third of that, maybe a bit less. I honestly don’t know what people do for stress relief without exercise. Well alcohol, I guess. I can respect that but it’s not the same.


Decided to do that again. A bit better today. I need to join the group at this pool that swims 3,000m together at a pace of 18 minutes per 1,000m. Maybe next week.

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I think I’m faster with flip turns. I noticed that on my last swim with 100m intervals and again today. I would throw in an interval in which I did flip turns, and look at my watch and discover I did that 100m about 3 seconds faster. I guess my little pause at the wall was slowing me down more than I realized. Today, I did the last 800m in a 1200m swim all flip turns (100m interval swim, that is). The next step is to do a 1000m swim straight and see what happens. I need to wait until I’m mentally ready for the pain to come, though!

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For some reason I’m not getting notifications for this thread.

My times fluctuate. But on big swims I try to stay at 1km=20m. That’s usually a swim of 11km-17km. Which is on pace for that kind of swim.

I have started breaking up my swims. Doing drills on different days. Focusing on getting the strength back into both shoulders by doing breathing drills. Doing a lot of legs drills. Then usually 3 big swims per week.

Food. I can’t stress this enough. I changed my epilepsy meds and it really screwed with my food intake and that made me lose a lot of time in the pool. Since then I’ve gone onto a sort of self forced diet making sure I eat multiple times a day. Still not enough. I finish my big swims and can’t stop eating. So I try to stick to a protein drink (mixed in with the peanut rice milk drink from 7/11 or wherever), rice ball, and if I’m still craving another rice ball and green tea. My regular food intake looks a bit like this

Smoothie (2 bananas, apple, blueberries, protein powder, almond milk, maple syrup)
Green Tea
Homemade muesli bar or eggs
Lunch (after swim) Protein drink (vegan) with peanut rice milk and a rice ball
Snack Maybe another rice ball, possibly a chocolate bar, sometimes a vegetarian bindung.
Dinner. Usually vegan. Sometimes pescatarian. Can be pasta, Mexican, stewed vegetables. Usually a big meal.
Snack. Usually fruit.

I prefer doing my big swims first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

Normal routine is all mixed up now. I have been asked to go back to what was my regular pool but don’t want to. I have also started going to gym and doing aerobics. I’m trying to sort my meals into the 6 meals a day routine but it can be difficult so I’m doing a lot of food prep now and reheating prepped meals. Mostly vegan although sometimes I will add a couple of eggs.


There’s a setting if you scroll down.

That seems like a very decent time for anything over 3k. And it’s hard for me to imagine swimming the kind of distances you’re talking about. I did 3.8k for the swimming leg of an ironman tri, but that was some years ago.

I imagine it’s critical for your long distances.

For me, I have a goal of getting back to a consistent good time on 1000m. I think under 17 minutes is still possible. After this little goal, I’m really not sure.

A friend is doing a 4k open water swim to an island and back in Keelung. I would like to do that with him the next time he plans this swim.

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That would be cool. I was thinking of entering in the Kinmen to Xiamen swim but it looks like it’s been cancelled the last couple of years. I was also planning on going to Tokyo for the masters trials in August but that looks like a bust too.

I’m focusing on 10km swims but I do break it up and do sprints every couple of weeks. Usually 5km. Like I said I’ve spent a lot of time doing drills lately. Especially breathing. I’ve got it so I’m on a good rotation left and right on every 5 breaths for long distance laps and every 3 breaths for sprints. More breathing means more oxygen which means more energy in your arms and legs.

I’ll also do butterfly drills. They’re excellent for building up your strength and balance.

My biggest issue is it usually takes me about 3km to warm up.

Applications open for Sun Moon Lake in a couple of days. I’ll find out and post the link. They have a bunch of different length swims and they also do stand up paddle board now. They have the competition the day before everyone else. The group swim is a bit more complicated. You have to be in a registered group. There needs to be a registered lifesaver in the group. You need to swim with a buoy type thing. And the minimum number in a group is 5 people. Sun Moon Lake is September.

Yes, please do post the link. I did the competition swim a few years ago. 3k, I believe, in a straight line. But I heard last year the competition swim was a mess. No room to really get a good swim in.

I see that’s around 9k. Can you confirm?

It seems I heard about some type of team effort for that swim. Do you know anything about that?

It’s about 7km. From what I understand foreigners need to get a visa for the mainland to do the swim. There’s also the Hong Kong Harbour race. One of the kids I used to train next to won that a few years back.

Looks like the Masters qualifier for Tokyo in August has been cancelled. The next one will be 2023. That will be in Doha Qatar.

All info on Sun Moon Lake is still saying TBA and the FINA website has the whole year cancelled except for Tokyo Olympics. Even that is looking pretty shaky right now.

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Have you tried the ISPO store? The one at Gongguan has specials on Speedo gear at the moment. They’ll give you the website price at the counter.

Hey, maybe this is why warm-ups have never seemed all that useful for me! I’m just not taking long enough on them! All I need to do is … er … spend about 1.5x my usual swim to warm up.

Impressive distances you’re talking about here. I’m not sure how you find the time!

In the past week I’ve started trying to do this in earnest, with a couple of dolphin kicks every push off the wall. It’s … interesting. A year ago I pushed myself to not do two quick breaths on the same side off a flip turn (instead just on alternate sides), and my lungs had got used to that. But now with the slightly longer and definitely more energetic time underwater, I’m gasping at the start of a length again.

For now these dolphin kicks are similar to how I think you’ve felt about flip turns: maybe they’re speeding me up, but they sure don’t feel smooth yet. I’ve got a nagging suspicion all I’m doing is a very ungraceful inchworm flail before my arms actually get me moving. But sometimes when I’m starting a length - not off a flip turn - I’ll try just dolphin kick for a stretch underwater, and yeah, it is moving me forward faster than a flutter kick would.

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I move my schedule around to fit it in.

Two good breaths in before hitting the wall. Push off with both hands over each other and arms stretched out as far as you can. Wait about 1.5-2m then dolphin kick 3 times. Then pull whichever is your best side arm down (while still underwater and rising to the surface) and then other arm follows (which should be breaking the surface). On pace you’ll probably need a breath on the next arm stroke.

I should practice it more instead I do full lengths of a 25m pool underwater. Mostly dolphin kick but sometimes freestyle. I have issues with flip turns and haven’t found an actual good physiotherapist in Taiwan. The last one did more damage while ignoring me when I was telling them they were going too far.

I had a local sewing place make me up a couple of pairs of swimsox. They’ve been excellent for creating more power off the wall. And forcing much more muscle use in the shoulders while they drag you back in the water. Easier than buckets tho.


Double breathing before the flip turn. And sometimes after the flip turn. Not immediately after, though, as there’s much turbulence. Has anyone heard of this. Sun Yang uses this technique.

Maybe this is your answer.

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Thanks. Interesting. I’ve never heard of that before, but then again, my time watching training videos totals … uh … the two minutes I’ve just watched. Mildly amusing: I feel a touch lazy if I do a same-side breathing pair before going into the turn, rather than every third stroke, but perhaps I shouldn’t worry about that! That double-breathing looks to me like a good way to lose all momentum, but since you’re at the wall I guess that’s not such a big deal?

Definitely the issue he’s talking about is what I’ve been facing the past few days. Two dolphin kicks off the wall, and I’m gasping with the first stroke, and often need to do another on the same side right away, and it feels like those gasps are costing me momentum - and also leaving me too drained to do my slightly faster accelerating stroke at the start of a length. But I’ve only been regularly doing those dolphin kicks for less than a week, so I hope it’ll start to seem natural. Even the first day trying this, last week, I felt like the dolphin kicks themselves were destroying all my momentum from pushing off the wall - things have definitely improved even in the days since then.

Long, long ago I was fine with butterfly stroke, so I hope there’s enough lingering muscle memory that dolphin kick will come back to me. I no longer do butterfly, because every time I try, my back starts to scream at me after around 20m; so far no issues with dolphin kick alone, except for occasional pre-cramp twinges in the arches of my feet or lower calves.

Is this the double breathing that @marasan posted about, or a normal (?) every third stroke bilateral breathing pair? (I need to learn this vocabulary!)

I remember from swim team days we were supposed to just not breathe inside the flags, either going into or coming off the wall. Is that still a thing, or has it gone by the board? Or maybe I’m misremembering. Coming off the wall, yeah, I surface a bit past the flags with flutter kicks, and well past the flags even with just two dolphin kicks, but coming into the wall? I need those breaths!

Sentence 1, good, thanks, already doing that. Very curious how long I’m waiting … unsure. Two kicks OK, three mostly aspirational at the moment. I’m not sure I have a best arm these days! But thanks - I’ll try this out.

I mostly like the 50m pool I use, but at times like this when I’m working on wall stuff, it’d be nice to have a 25m just to get in more practice.

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Yeah same side breathing before the flip turn.

I normally breathe every 4th stroke or alternate on every 5th stroke. I only breathe every 3rd if I’m pushing myself on a distant sprint set. Every 2nd if I’m doing a dedicated sprint set and usually the second hour not the first.

If you’re losing momentum then it really sounds like you need to do some breathing drills. And I would encourage both sides. Like on your left one way and your right on your way back.

Until the moment just before you start to lose momentum from the push off from the wall. If 80% of your lane speed is based on the push off the wall then you will be losing that if you let yourself slow. It’s a timing thing and a lot of people don’t quite get it right. Also as we get older we do get lazier and more set in our ways. From what else you’ve written I would encourage a 25m pool for drills, 50m pool for distance sets. It’s coming into summer so the outdoor pools should be starting to open.

I can’t stress this enough. Swimsox for legs practice (even for as short as 2 weeks) will see a big improvement in pushing off from the wall and kicking down the lane. Not sure if you know of the push pull technique where you wait just sort of until your other arm has almost gone to the thigh before pulling your next arm through. In order to get the best result from this you need your legs to be kicking properly.

Personally I’ve found some good improvement by mixing up my swims now. Different sets for different days and focused sets for particular things like breathing practice.

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That’s probably better directed at me. I struggle with bilateral breathing…a lot. I think lostinasia is referring solely to the double breathing. Your comment might still be a valid one but breathing to the left on one lap then to the right on the return lap is probably not a problem for him.

My comment to both of you. Are you guys sure about breathing every three or more for long distance swims? For example, Sun Yang and other great swimmers for the 1500m distance breathe every two, with some double breathing thrown in and maybe alternate side breathing to check out what’s going on in the other lanes. But basically every two breathing in their races for almost the entire distance.

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Nope, not sure at all. It’s what I was taught decades ago - that breathing on the same side, every two strokes, should be done only at the end of a race, and only in desperation; if you do that earlier you’re messing up your pace. But that was long ago; the advice may have been wrong then; it may have just been tailored for young teens; and the science may have changed. Plus back then I believe our longest race was 400m, and you’re talking about much longer distances than that!

For my typically 2km swims I have a vague rule of thumb that, if I can breathe every five strokes, I should speed up (because I’m not pushing myself enough), and if I need to breathe every second stroke, I should slow down a bit. But that’s as much from habit as anything - sort of akin to the “judging level of exercise by whether or not you’d be able to talk.”

Note also that I don’t do much at a racing pace; most of my swims are at a consistent “jogging” speed. Not that I jog - just in that sense of how elevated my heart rate and breathing are.

Do they breathe on the same side the whole race, or maybe alternate from length to length? If they always breathe to the same side, that’s surely got to lead to different arm development and slightly uneven strokes. It definitely contributed to uneven bicep and shoulder sizes for me when I was 13 or so.

When I was referring to losing momentum, I meant that double breath in the video @marasan posted above: breathing to one side, and then immediately on the other side with the very next stroke seems like it’d almost have me vertical out of the water before ducking into the turn. However, I haven’t tried it yet.

I don’t count 1500m as a long swim. That’s more of a sprint for me. Anything above 9km is a long swim. And it can depend on the pool. Some pools are easier to swim in than others. Open water is a different story altogether.

And I know it hasn’t been conclusively proven however most are saying it’s a given that Sun Yang has used steroids pretty much throughout his career (he’s currently appealing the ruling so that he can swim in Tokyo but it looks doubtful he’ll be allowed to swim). If you want to know more about his swimming style take a look at total immersion swimming. I guess you’d call it the pilates of the swimming world.

On 1500m swims in general it comes down to lining up all things. This includes the power push off the wall and dolphin kick to 15m mark while underwater. Then there’s the 6 beat kick, 2 beat kick, and the cross-over kick.

For me I started breathing to my left due to injury. Broke my neck to be more precise. I decided this year to push back on that habit and have been breathing both sides. And mostly every 5 strokes. Or drills (10 laps one side then 10 laps the other) to get the shoulder and arm strength up. I find if I breath every 3 I go too fast and suffer burnout.

Exactly what has been happening to me. Gym work helped. Especially free weights. But yes I like to breath on one side going down and the other coming back. I find 4 strokes per breath just suits me. But like you also mentioned competition is a different matter. Especially if you haven’t paced yourself properly and start building up that lactic acid and needing more oxygen into the muscles. I usually try to stick to one long sprint every two weeks or month. The rest would be considered jogging.

For the sake of health purposes 60 minutes of elevated (elevated being 220 minus your age=BPM) heart rate at least 6 days per week. I find on a mostly vegan diet that my heart rate is under that ratio. And I have the blood pressure readings of a 15-20 year old.

I find that cumbersome. On the same side twice before hitting the wall. Small breath first one and then bigger breath the next to give you the oxygen to last. Also try to not waste time by turning all the way when coming out of the flip turn. No rule says you can’t do dolphin kick sideways. Although can be challenging to get the hang of unless you’ve got someone or something to focus on when practicing.

Try not to get caught up holding your arm in the air while taking the breath. A good trick for this is to look down your shoulder so you see your arm coming through. As you bring your arm through that should give you the momentum to go straight into your flip and push off.

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I need to spend more time figuring this stuff out. When I got my Covid vaccine a couple of weeks ago, I measured my blood pressure with one of those machines for the first time in ages: 130/79. And now I see that’s apparently not good for someone in their late 40s! But the same machine measured my heart rate at 69, and my normal resting rate is around 60, so one result is just one result. I suppose I should figure out where there’s a nearby machine and make a habit of checking every month or two.

Heart rate also confuses me a bit and I need to get my Apple Watch set up better for it: the “default” values for heart rate zones, based purely on age, seem to be messed up for me, I think because I’ve got a relatively low resting heart rate. The data from this site seems to line up with how I feel - but even that shows a very hard workout rate of 155-172bpm. Most of my swims max out around 144bpm, and that just for short times; bike rides will max out at 155bpm. At the moment I can’t find a recorded heart rate higher than 155bpm for me.

I’m not going to pretend I know anything about swimming more than 3k, but it seems the same would apply (even more so) the longer you go.

Bottom line (from what I get out of the article below):

a) do bilateral breathing often in practice. Maybe all left on one lap then all right the next, in view of what’s being discussed in this article.
b) when racing, go ahead and switch to your dominant side and breathe every two strokes.
c) oxygen deficit when breathing every three strokes will negatively affect your performance. If this is not the case, perhaps the pace could and should be picked up.
d) the classic breathing every three strokes is not the only bilateral option. (I really like two-breathe-two-breathe-three-breathe-two-breathe-two-breathe, 2:3 breathing pattern).,breathe%20consecutively%20to%20both%20sides.

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