Swimming Long Slow Distance (LSD)

Wednesday was my first time to commute to the pool. I was actually having second thoughts coz of the overcast skies. And I was right. I got to the pool around 1:30pm but but at 3pm, it rained cats and dogs.

It would've been fun continuing the swim hadn't the thunder scared me coz there was a bit of lightning as well. The pool's at the mall's rooftop and so it's too risky. A middle-aged rotund gentleman fried crisp (by lightning) floating in the pool is not a pretty sight.

But I managed to slip in a pretty decent workout. I realized a few drills that have benefited my bilateral breathing at freestyle.
  1. One-arm free with non-stroking arm extended.

    Have the non-stroking arm extended in front at around 20 to 30 degrees below horizontal. Stroke with the left arm one way and then the right arm the other way.

    Stroking helps train the head position in the water and when exactly to breath - which for me is when the stroking arm is almost ready to break the surface.

  2. One-arm free with the non-stroking arm at the side.

    This is a bit harder coz of the tendency for the head and torso to sink. But it helps train the kicking to keep the balance and avoid sinking.

  3. Fist drill free.

    Reinforces the proper body rotation for efficiency. Why? Because fist-drill is tough, having to depend only on your fists and forearms so a proper rotation is imperative to swim fast.

Here's a tip I learned to breath easily and this is from a clip by Ian Thorpe.

Try to keep a higher head position when swimming. This does NOT mean raising the head by craning the neck each time you breathe. Instead of looking straight down at the bottom of the pool, look ahead at roughly 45 degrees below horizontal.

The water hits the head not at the crown but roughly at the hairline. This creates the bow wave where you can breathe into.

Of course it goes against the now conventional wisdom of a supposed perfect streamline. But I'd rather do that than not breathe at all.

With this technique I'm able to breathe easily on my left side - my less dominant side. Here's the clip where 5 elements of Ian's stroke are discussed. Breathing is the 2nd element discussed.

Another I learned is I'm now able to swim a bit longer. To do this, I need to:
  1. Stretch. Despite what others say that stretching isn't important, I personally benefit from them. Stretch the neck, triceps, traps, abdomen, hams, quads, calves and ankles.

  2. Warm up nicely. You could do the drills above and do several laps of regular free's with 6-beat kicks. Thirty minutes to an hour is adequate.

  3. Focus on swimming slowly. Don't rush. Deliberately slow down the stroking but be in control. Use the legs lightly to balance the body.

  4. Focus on technique. Watch how you use the arms. Emphasize technique on each stroke.

  5. Exhale slowly. Don't blast out the air immediately when submerging the head. Strive for a gradual release of air or exhale in several "mini-blasts".

This just goes to show that LSD, or Long Slow Distance doesn't only apply to running but to swimming as well. Swim slow and you'll swim long.

Go ahead, post your comment below!