Posts Tagged swimming

L.A. County Ocean Lifeguard Swim Test

So today I tried out for L.A. County Ocean Lifeguard. There is a swim test, which is the first of 4 gates you have to get through in order to get the part-time, summer job that is being offered.

The swim test is a 1000 meter ocean swim. It’s basically a race to get a chance for an interview for the job (the interview is gate #2). Today there were 340 people signed up for the swim test (the most they have ever had) and 284 actually showed up and did the swim. The top 120 finishers were getting an interview slot.

I was excited to do this swim. I thought I had a chance to make an interview. Research I’d done online showed that most swimmers who make it to the interview round complete the 1000 m swim in under 20 minutes. I can (sometimes?) do that distance in less than 20 minutes. I found out about the swim test 3 weeks before the test date, and I thought if I trained and tapered smart, I could do it. I hoped I might even make it in 18 minutes. I completed the online job application by the deadline of Sept. 21st and then a couple of weeks later got a mail per U.S. post with a letter of admittance to the swim. Swim check in at 7 am in Santa Monica at Santa Monica Lifeguard Headquarters. Read the rest of this entry »

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Training for Cold Water Swims

Not that I am training for any cold, open water swims at the moment. But saw this article on the FINIS Blog, with a number of tips on how to train for such an event, plus comments from other readers, and want to save this link. I suspect that I will do the La Jolla Rough Water Swim again next year. I did it this year. Water temps were in the low 60s and no wet suits permitted. Definitely bears some thinking on how to get prepared for it next year. Thankfully I was only in the water for 38 minutes this year, and hopefully next year even less, but the cold did take a toll on my body.

Training for Cold Water Swims – 9 Tips You Need to Know | The FINIS Blog

Follow the link above to see the article on the FINIS Blog.

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Swim Stroke Technique

So I found a new swimming website with videos this week, through a link that someone tweeted. It’s called The Race Club. Videos are one of the most helpful things for me, with swimming. Swimming is so much about technique, much moreso that running or cycling, because water is about 800 times more dense than air. And water is not the natural environment for humans, so we do not naturally move through it in the best way.

The video that I saw tweeted was: Secret Tip – How to position your hands underwater – The Race Club. This is a good video about how to hold your fingers (just a bit apart) in order to create a bit of turbulence when you swim, which effectively increases your hand’s surface area.

I followed the link on the above video to this one, also very good: Secret Tip – How to Pull Underwater Drills – The Race Club.

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My First Swim Meet

Today there was an “All Comers” swim meet at Mt. SAC where I participate in the Masters Swim program. It was open to anyone who wanted to swim: high school, college, masters or club swimmers. Anyone. Entry fee was $5 and swim as many of the 13 scheduled events as you like. Today’s meet was distance format on a Short Course Yards course. They had a sprint format one in October but I had to work that day so could not attend. I would have MUCH preferred the sprint one.

Weather was cruddy today. Cool and raining. Not many people showed up for the meet. 17 total competitors. I heard that the sprint format meet last month had a lot more. Five of today’s swimmers were older: ages 48-69. I was in this group. The remaining twelve were very young: ages 17-24. Notice the huge age-gap.

I arrived at the pool at 8 am. Louis, my coach, asked me what events I would swim. I had picked the 200 yard freestyle and the 500 yard freestyle. He said we could start warming up. The meet was supposed to begin at 9 am. I swam about 500 or so yards in warmup. Most of it slow and easy. A couple of short 25s a bit harder with faster arm turnover. And some practice on my flip turns. I’ve been learning flip turns for 2 weeks now, and they are passable but not very good. Before the meet started I also got a chance to practice a dive off a starting block. I’ve never done that before. Louis just said to make sure I tuck my head down, which I did. No problem. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Five Phases of Swim Training

So here is a good article from Competitor magazine, regarding swim training. It’s specifically for triathlon, but in general the 5 phases are:

Endurance, strength, speed, taper, recovery.

The link below takes you to the full article:

The Five Phases Of Swim Training – Triathlete.com

They have example workouts and detailed descriptions.

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I swam 100 yards in 1:14!

Yes, it’s true. I really did swim 100 yards that fast. Last week on Thursday, September 30th. It was so unbelievable that neither the coach nor I actually believed at first that I did it. And I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do it again, but I sure want to so much.

Normally I swim my 100s on about the order of 1:50 plus or minus a bit. Depends on how fatigued I am and how hard I’m trying. The week before my Malibu Triathlon during my taper week, I did swim some 100s on September 7th in 1:38, 1:37, 1:40 and 1:47. That 1:37 was my fastest ever until last week. I have gotten around 1:40-1:41 a number of times in the past month.

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Swimming Facilities and Programs at Mount SAC

I’ve been swimming this summer at a nearby pool that is open to the public for lap swimming and also provides a Masters Swim program and other training programs. I love this pool. The water is fresh and clean, not like the over-chlorinated, chemical soup at the 24 hour fitness pool (my alternative swim location). So where am I swimming? In the outdoor Olympic size swimming pool at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, California, or Mt. SAC as the locals refer to it.

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Kicking Drills for Triathlon

Somehow in all the reading I had done about the swim portion of triathlon, and how triathletes should train for and approach the swim, I got the message that the kicking was very de-emphasized. That kicking was almost not necessary. Let your legs drag, if you wanted to. Use your upper body on the swim and save the legs for the bike and run. Makes sense, no?

And then I started my Masters Swim workouts. And the coach was having me do a fair amount of kicking. Although I thought I didn’t really need to be doing kicking drills, I tried to just suck it up and say nothing. After all, I was seeking the expertise of the coach. He knows more about this than I do, right? That’s why I was doing the Masters Swim. Eventually I did ask him about it and he said I needed to keep that end of my body up, or something like that. So…ok. Still doubtful but…just doing the drills like he said.

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Why do swim drills? Don’t you hate them?

So I started a Masters Swim program at Mt. SAC back on June 17, 2010. Six weeks ago today. Although I seem to do fairly well at self-coaching myself on running, I have  no swimming background and I’m not very good at it and I knew I needed someone with knowledge to watch me, coach me, give me tips. I did do some reading…Total Immersion swimming books, articles on Active.com, TriSwimCoach.com, BeginnerTriathlete.com. And reading was good, and did help, and I did try to use the advice. However, implementing what I read was just not going all that great without a coach.

Now one thing I did notice was that a lot of the reading material encouraged drills. The TriSwimCoach specifically encouraged doing as much drills as you could stand. And other sites also recommended drills for improving stroke technique and efficiency. It makes sense. In running I do speedwork on the track and I would say that is analagous to drills in the pool. I know that speedwork really does help me. I have to assume with all these articles recommending swim drills that that would help me, too.

But I really hate drills. Or at least, when I was trying to figure out swimming on my own, I really, really disliked them and almost never did them. I would maybe do a few laps of drills. Less than 1/4 of my workout for sure. Maybe much less than that. And then freestyle all the way, baby, because that seems to be the most fun to me.

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First Swims in my New Wetsuit

Me on the left, Nina Twitter friend on the right, before Santa Monica Ocean Swim.

Me on the left & Nina (Twitter friend) on the right at Santa Monica Ocean Swim.

So I bought an xTerra Vortex 3 last Friday, June 26, 2009. And I was eager to try it out. Wanted to make sure it fit properly and was easy to move around and swim in it. So I planned to go to Huntington State Beach on Monday and get in a short ocean swim.

The original plan was to hit the beach before noon, short swim, picnic lunch with Jenny on the beach, play and relaxation time before heading home. Unfortunately, due to a comedy of errors, we didn’t actually get to Huntington until 3 PM. I talked to the Life Guard briefly, put my wetsuit on, and ventured out.

In watching the surf before I suited up, the breakers hadn’t looked too large to me. So about 20 minutes later I was wading into the surf. Life guard had said water temp was 62˚. It didn’t feel cold to me at all, especially with the suit on. Waves still looked ok, and I proceeded out to my chest. I felt the cold water coming through the suit at the zipper on the back. Just interesting, not a problem. Kept going and got out past most of the breakers. But there was one row left to get past, and they seemed pretty big. I was not comfy with it. I decided to go back in and try ocean swimming in my suit another day.

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