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Why do I swim so slowly?

lavapixielavapixie Posts: 26Member Member Posts: 26Member Member
Hey there, I started swimming two years ago, I was very active in the summer of 2017 but then as it got colder I went less. In 2018 I didn't swim nearly as much, but still a bit, and now in 2019 I'm swimming even more than in 2017 (been at it everyday for almost a month) and I swim AT LEAST 1 kilometer and up to 3 kilometers. I usually swim 2 km.

Now the problem I have, I'm a really slow swimmer. Even if I try to swim as fast as I can (which sometimes results in stomach cramps and I get really out of breath) I just take so long. Now I'm not 100% certain how each kilometer takes me, but I think it's roughly 30-40 minutes.

I'm not really leisurely swimming (or that's what I feel like, maybe I am swimming at a turtle's pace), I do breaststroke and freestyle with 5 lap intervals. The pool I swim in is 25 meter long, so one kilometer is 40 laps. I am usually faster at the start but then I gradually slow down because of fatigue but I always try to keep the same pace.

I take over two hours usually if I decide to go for 3 kilometers. I've only recently started doing 3 kilometers, I have been thinking if I should start doing 4 but honestly 3 kilometers takes so much out of me and I'm really exhausted and hungry for the rest of the day.

I've been reading on tips and tricks with swimming and I've noticed that a lot of people say they can finish 2 kilometers in less than 40 minutes. I know that it's probably not helpful to compare myself with other people, but it bothers me and it makes me feel like I'm not putting in enough effort, although I'm always tired afterwards.

If it matters, I am 22, female, 170 cm, and currently 68 kg. I eat roughly 1250 - 1500 calories a day and I eat half of my exercise calories back, although I have been having some problems with binge eating lately which I am trying to fix. It actually kind of feels like the lighter I get, the less energy I have when I swim. I was 95 kilos when I first started.

Any advice?

edited March 15

Replies

  • claireychn074claireychn074 Posts: 130Member, Premium Member Posts: 130Member, Premium Member
    Covering the distance in a faster time is (counter intuitively) not about swimming faster. Those who can cover 2km in 40 mins are very good swimmers and possibly not average examples. Genetically there are things that can help such as big hands and feet, but you can greatly improve the amount of water you push with each stroke which will propel you faster through the water. So drills such as single arm front crawl, arms and legs only stroke, using hand paddles and front crawl catch up are great to get stroke strength. Then if you build in some pyramid lengths (2 lengths breathing every 3strokes, then 2x5, 2x7, 2x5 and 2x3 then 2 mins break), your cardiovascular fitness will improve. These will all help you pull yourself through the water effectively without having to speed up your stroke and waste energy.

    On the other hand, any form of swimming - regardless of how long it takes - is awesome exercise so just enjoy and feel good about what you’re doing!
  • girlwithcurls2girlwithcurls2 Posts: 1,597Member Member Posts: 1,597Member Member
    OP, if you've been calculating the distance wrong, you've been swimming twice as far as you thought each time. So you're not nearly as "slow" as you thought you were!!

    And I second the motion to eat more. On days when I spend 1.5-2 hours in the pool, I have to calorie load ahead of time to be sure I have the fuel to work that long (and I'm slow too). I also find that a calorie dense dinner is important so that I don't wake up ravenous. Same thing happens after my long run days.
  • fishgutzyfishgutzy Posts: 2,806Member Member Posts: 2,806Member Member
    Two things that helped me a great deal,
    YouTube videos on the catchup drill and the high elbow front crawl.
    Technique is the main factor in pace.
    I do not consider myself to be fast.
    I'm a pacer, not a racer.
    Over the last few years i've worked to increase my endurance.
    My pace today for an 8km swim was 2:09/100m. Not fast enough to be competitive, even among swimmers my age. But faster than most of the swimmers at the gym I got to when I'm in China on business. :D
  • lorrpblorrpb Posts: 10,001Member Member Posts: 10,001Member Member
    OP, if you've been calculating the distance wrong, you've been swimming twice as far as you thought each time. So you're not nearly as "slow" as you thought you were!!

    And I second the motion to eat more. On days when I spend 1.5-2 hours in the pool, I have to calorie load ahead of time to be sure I have the fuel to work that long (and I'm slow too). I also find that a calorie dense dinner is important so that I don't wake up ravenous. Same thing happens after my long run days.

    OP is probably calculating the yardage correctly, but not using the terms correctly.
  • BigTandthesquattersBigTandthesquatters Posts: 147Member Member Posts: 147Member Member
    quality over quantity. A good slow swim you can maintain for 20-30 minutes is better than trying to sprint out a swim and burning out after 5 mins because it was too strenuous.
  • sarabushbysarabushby Posts: 469Member Member Posts: 469Member Member
    Find a coach or local facility that will do a swim video stroke analysis session for you. They will give you advice about what YOU need to tweek in your stroke to become more efficient. Watching YouTube videos can be helpful but there’s nothing like actually seeing yourself swimming and seeing what you’re doing wrong. If Google shows no results for such a service locally to you then try asking at your local triathlon club, they are bound to know someone to recommend.

    Also - do you take a bottle of drink to the pool? You may find dehydration is impairing your endurance performance. I usually have 750ml in a 1hr swim session. Dehydration whilst swimming can be quite significant but of course less noticeable than on dry land as you won’t have a pool of sweat at your feet! Try it & see how you go. Calorie free electrolyte tabs in your drink bottle could be good.
  • gentlygentlygentlygently Posts: 647Member Member Posts: 647Member Member
    Er - you are a lot faster than me (and I am a lot faster than a lot of people in my pool!).

    There are lots of ways to approach swimming - going steadily for long endurance type distances (2-3km or many many more), targetting a briskish mile or kilometer, or picking up the pace and doing lots of 50m sprints with rests and so using the pool for High Intensity training, or just having a float and stretch. All are valid.

    I suggest you set your own goals based on what yiu can achieve and dont worry too much about what others achieve.

    My speed increased through lessons - which I really enjoyed - but that just made my swimming more efficient really - so I now need to go longer or faster or do more sprints to get fitter...,bother!
  • VladimirnapkinVladimirnapkin Posts: 291Member, Premium Member Posts: 291Member, Premium Member
    I really hope we learn that the OP was just doing the math wrong and has been doing twice as much, twice as fast as she thought! That would be wonderful! (The opposite of my friend's mother who thought each lap of the school track was 1 mile.)

    Either way, good job for sticking with it. It took me a long time to improve. I remember the day I was finally faster than the elderly man with one arm.
  • savithnysavithny Posts: 1,205Member Member Posts: 1,205Member Member
    1) check technique - are you pivoting your arm and cupping your hand to push as hard as possible against the wateR? Are you using an efficient kick?
    2) Increased arm and shoulder strength? If you've been swimming mostly while you'er also eating at a deficit, maybe your strength isn't improving enough to improve speed?
    3) Breaststroke is just slow -- and with crawl, how often are you breathing? Every right-hand or every left-hand stroke, or less often? Rolling enough to breathe can slow you down a lot.
  • fcanadfcanad Posts: 36Member, Premium Member Posts: 36Member, Premium Member
    Look for swim drills online. Try goswim.tv.
    Look for “age-group” workouts, distances for younger sweimmers that are 1-2 k.
    Don’t do the same thing each day. Do one day of mostly interval training, one day mostly kicking, one day on technique, etc.
    Are you present in your body when you swim? Are you able to be analytical?
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