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Wanted: Swim Questions

by Meghann on October 4, 2012

I’m working on a new “Swimming 101” series for the blog. Trust me, I am NOT a swim expert – I’m still learning with every stroke I take! – but I have received a few requests for some swimming-for-beginners posts that I think I’m ready to write (with the help of an experienced swimmer who actually knows what she’s talking about πŸ˜‰ ).

So if you have any swimming-related questions (anything from equipment to how to read a workout), let me know in the comments below!

My lunch today was easy and quick.


Chicken sausages were BOGO the other week, so I bought two packages. We’ve been slowly making our way through them since then, but I think it’s time to speed up the process (before they go bad). I grilled one of the apple-based ones on the george foreman, then added it to a wrap with spinach and feta. I grilled the wrap (grilled wraps ROCK) and served it warm.


I cut the chicken sausage in half, then placed the halves side-by-side in the wrap, which is why it’s harder to see in the photos. I liked spreading the sausage out a bit so I could guarantee a bit of sausage in every bite. πŸ™‚

On the side I had some freshly sliced apple slices.



Don’t forget to leave your swim questions below!

1 Brittany @Berries and Barbells October 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I’m wondering about the flip kick at the end of the pool. I have NO idea how to do those! If I can’t do it whats the best way to turn around without losing momentum?
Brittany @Berries and Barbells recently posted..Munchkin Meals

2 Lisa Fine October 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I have thought about doing a triathlon sometime, but I HATE the crawl stroke (and love breast stroke).

Is it unreasonable to do the swimming portion using breast stroke if that’s my stronger stroke, or am I better off learning crawl better? It’s the breathing that really gets me.
Lisa Fine recently running journey

3 Meghann October 4, 2012 at 3:54 pm

That’s a great question that I can answer here (but will bring up later because it’s an important one). The breast stroke is DANGEROUS in a triathlon situation. Since the swim portion is usually so crowded, you’re more likely to kick someone when you kick out during a breast stroke (I’ve been a victim of this before). It’s safer (and better in the long run) to learn the crawl.

4 Victoria (District Chocoholic) October 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm

You’re also going to wear your legs out way too much with breaststroke and set yourself up for slower bike/run times. The traditional crawl/freestyle stroke lets you rest your legs more.
Victoria (District Chocoholic) recently posted..Delaviuda Yogu-Fresa

5 Lisa Fine October 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Oh wow, thanks both of you! I’ll definitely have to work on my breathing technique. I always feel like I get worn out quickly with the crawl, but I think it’ll take practice (or I just have to go slower).
Lisa Fine recently running journey

6 Victoria (District Chocoholic) October 4, 2012 at 4:03 pm

If you tire easily with the crawl stroke, you are probably lifting your head too high to breathe. Make sure that you turn your head to the side without lifting it. A good check is to have one eye in the water and one out, that way, you know you aren’t lifting your head all the way out of the water.

The other advantage of nailing this technique is that you can breathe more often without a negative impact on your time. I personally breathe every two strokes; too many people push for too little breathing. Oxygen is your friend!
Victoria (District Chocoholic) recently posted..Delaviuda Yogu-Fresa

7 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats October 4, 2012 at 4:21 pm

lol now I have a question about a question – what is a crawl?! Is that freestyle? Lol, if that’s the case, I grew up swimming and never heard it called that! Maybe it’s a southern thing?
Katie @ Peace Love & Oats recently posted..Thursday Thoughts

8 Victoria (District Chocoholic) October 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Technically, freestyle can be swum in any style (hence the name). If you are entered in the 200 freestyle at a USA Swimming or US Masters sanctioned meet, you can swim any stroke, including breastroke, sidestroke, etc. Front crawl is generally the most efficient way to swim, which means that people use a front crawl-type stroke in freestyle events, so the terms are used interchangeably.
Victoria (District Chocoholic) recently posted..Delaviuda Yogu-Fresa

9 Natalie @ Free Range Human October 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I would love for you to go over some of the different swimming techniques. I’m pretty lost on everything except your basic freestyle (and even that isn’t a pretty sight to see!).
Natalie @ Free Range Human recently posted..WIAW or My Ode to Whole Foods

10 Lauri October 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Chicken sausages are a staple in our house and I always freeze them and then just defrost them on the day we’re ready to eat them so I don’t have to worry about them going bad!
Lauri recently posted..T-7 days!

11 kit October 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm

been a bit of a silent reader of your blog so far, but love it! would be great if you could go through how to read a workout?
thank you!

12 Esther October 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I’m a runner who recently was sidelined with a tendon injury, and now am swimming as my primary form of exercise for the first time ever. I’m really new at it, so a successful workout for me is currently about 600-700 meters. I guess what I’m wondering is what are typical distances for recreational swimmers? I’ve run a half marathon and I started running using couch to 5K, so I have a mental measurement of what is an achievable running distance for a beginner (5K) vs. a “long” run (I don’t run 8-10 miles every morning) vs. something that you have to seriously train for (a half marathon), but I have no similar framework for swimming. I’d like to have a goal in mind that I’m trying to build up to, I’m just not sure what that should be. Thanks!

13 Erin October 4, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I’d love to hear more about your favorite swim stuff- goggles, suits, etc?

14 Morgan October 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I also am sidelined with an injury, bad bone bruise on my heel. No running for a while, and I may have to sit out of the Honolulu Marathon in December… but I hope not!

I am so excited for your swimming 101 series! I would really like to know how you found the group that you swim with now. How did you make your first move to the pool? I found a group to swim with, but I still haven’t shown up to practice. Really intimidated. Haven’t swam competitively since high school. Any tips on getting motivated would be awesome!

15 Colleen October 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I am unsure of how to build a workout around swimming and how to gauge hard, medium, and easy in the poll (like how fast should my laps be to be hard?). Can’t wait to read it!

16 Rebecca October 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Yay for this post! I have two swimming questions and need all the help I can get!

1. When breathing out under water, do I solely need to breath all the air out through my nose or can I breath out of my mouth as well? I have trouble getting all of the air out and then when I turn to take a breath I don’t get much air.

2. Kicking. Should my legs be straight or what is the right form for kicking? (I know, how basic is this!)

17 Jillian October 4, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Hey Rebecca – I used to teach swimming – so hope this helps:
1. yes you can breathe out through your mouth underwater. When your mouth is out of the water you should only be breathing in. Trying to go “out-in” really fast can’t be maintained, and you risk swallowing a lot more water that way!
2. kick from your hips, not from your knees. kicking from your hips means that your legs will be generally pretty straight – but you don’t need to necessarily lock your knees. just work on getting that flutter action from your hips. you’ll have more power that way if you’re using your whole leg πŸ™‚

18 Rebecca October 4, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Thanks so much! This inspires me to try swimming again (every couple years I try once and I’m so discouraged I give up)!

19 Cher @ Weddicted October 4, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Never thought of grilling a wrap for some reason – no idea why! I only do it when I’m making a quesedilla. Will have to try, it looks good πŸ™‚
Cher @ Weddicted recently posted..Unique boutonnieres for the Groom

20 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More October 4, 2012 at 5:11 pm

I’m so not a swimmer. And not even like “I swim I’m just not the best,” I mean that I am NOT a swimmer. I can doggy paddle or make my way across the pool but in terms of different strokes or being even semi confident, it’s not there. Neither is swimming in open water. Ever…
Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..Get Out There and Move!

21 Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes October 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Great idea for a series of posts, Meghann! As a new triathlete who’s “Achilles heel” is definitely the swim, I’d love to here about some beginner-friendly workouts (both in the pool and on the deck) that will help me become a faster, more efficient swimmer. Thanks! πŸ™‚
Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes recently posted..Last Bike Ride in Central New York

22 Kayla October 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I need tips on getting the breathing down! I also know nothing about form!

23 RunEatRepeat October 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm

My swim question:

Pee in the pool? yes or no?
RunEatRepeat recently posted..Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway

24 Victoria (District Chocoholic) October 4, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Yes. Always yes.
Victoria (District Chocoholic) recently posted..Delaviuda Yogu-Fresa

25 Rae October 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm

They teach that in tri 101 πŸ˜›

26 Tara October 4, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I have never swam laps before but know how to do basic breaststroke and freestyle. I joined a gym recently and it has a pool. I would love to swim to give myself some non-leg intensive workouts. But I am BEYOND lost. What do I need to know? I wanted to do it the other day but they already had two people per lane and I know it will be a not pretty sight when I attempt it and I imagined swimming into people. So where do you begin??!! HELP!!! LOL

27 Diana October 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm

How to pick out the right suit! Simple to start, but they’re pricey and I’m having a hard time figuring out what to buy.

Also, how to keep level in the pool (a straight line)!
Diana recently posted..Blogging Student

28 Rae October 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm

try splish,com. You can get a great grab bag suit for $20! Plus, they arhilarious, and functional!
Rae recently posted..Maine Marathon RR: Cotton Balls and Bandaids

29 Lauren October 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm

any advice on how to get past the first few lengths? I love swimming, but I have a hard time continuing on after each 25 yards, particularly because I can’t yet do the flip turn (which I’m sure others have asked about already!). I get so exhausted and it’s hard to keep my breathing in tact.

30 Becky @ runfundone October 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm

My big swim problem seems to be form…I don’t know how to phrase it in a question, but a “freestyle form 101” with pictures illustrating proper technique would be super helpful for me!
Becky @ runfundone recently posted..My First Master’s Swim

31 Emily October 4, 2012 at 9:04 pm

I have a question. So how do you do flip turns? Is there any simple way to learn, or do you need a coach to get you through them? Also, one more question, is it good to learn to breath on both sides while doing the crawl?
Emily recently posted..What is Healthy?

32 Summer October 4, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Drills would be super helpful- the only I know are the basic pull and kick. Thanks!

33 Axel October 4, 2012 at 10:25 pm

I’ve been doing triathlon for 5 years now, and I still can’t read swim workouts. It’ll be 4×50 @ 1:00 or something…what?
Axel recently posted..Link to Mom2Marathon

34 Steph October 4, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I’ve always been fascinated by people who can breathe on both sides. I totally favor my right side, every. single. swim. How do you even begin to start training yourself to do this? It would be SO helpful during open water swims when waves are not-so-calm.
Steph recently posted..A new normal

35 Johanna October 5, 2012 at 1:34 am

How to get that “early verticasl forearm”? Any good drills?

36 Brittany October 5, 2012 at 10:17 am

This might be a bit specific, but:
1. Pulling: On the pull, I heard I’m supposed to use my lats, but I don’t ever feel them being used – any form tips here?
2. Kicking: One leg seems to be more dominant than the other and I feel the hip flexor from that leg getting tired first; any tips to even out my kicking?
Brittany recently posted..Kerrville Half Ironman Race Recap

37 Erin October 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I can’t figure out how to breathe. I know all the tips but for some reason it just doesn’t happen. I breathe deep from my belly from years of being in choir so it’s difficult to feel like I have enough time to get enough air in. I usually just end up swallowing air and then I feel bloated and disgusting!
Erin recently posted..Oldie But Goodie

38 Erin October 7, 2012 at 11:47 am

Amazing timing. I’m just starting to plan for a tri next year but haven’t swam in forever. (My pool time usually involves a floating with a beverage.)
I’m lost with gear. Recommendations on suits for training (I’m specifically having a hard time finding a long torso suit), goggles, and swim cap (latex vs. silicone).
Looking forward to this post!

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