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Tower 26 or Lessons?
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I'm an AOS swimmer and have heard great things about Tower 26 from both the forum and youtube. My question is I'm a pretty awful swimmer (race pace is around 1:50/100) and I'd really like to get better. For those of you that either have a coach and/or have done T26, which do you think would be a better investment? I've taken the odd private swim lesson but without consistent swimming and lessons I find I fall back into my old habits quickly. Maybe structured swim workouts would help?? Thanks!
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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TXAgeGrouper wrote:
I'm an AOS swimmer and have heard great things about Tower 26 from both the forum and youtube. My question is I'm a pretty awful swimmer (race pace is around 1:50/100) and I'd really like to get better. For those of you that either have a coach and/or have done T26, which do you think would be a better investment? I've taken the odd private swim lesson but without consistent swimming and lessons I find I fall back into my old habits quickly. Maybe structured swim workouts would help?? Thanks!

Your best approach is to get regular on-deck feedback of your stroke (at 1:50/100 (scy, I assume), you are definitely doing something(s) wrong). Failing that, you are likely to habituate your stroke flaws and make them harder to correct going forward. It's a truism in swimming that you are not doing (stroke-wise) what you think you are doing.

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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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Is there a Masters group near you? While I would love to do Tower26, I have a coach on the deck telling me what to correct.
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [prefersdirt] [ In reply to ]
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I do have access to Master's but the ~10 times I've gone over the years I'm yet to ever get 1 iota of feedback.
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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On-deck coach, no questions about it. When I started, I was following swim technique videos and books doing all the drills and swimming 4-5 times/week from 3-5K yds each time. I then started going to masters 2x week, hardly ever more than 3k yds and dropped my IM swim time by 6 minutes.

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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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You have gone 10 times over years? There is part of the issue.

Have you talked with the coach so they know you want feedback? I did with mine. She told me lots of folks do NOT want feedback. (I also then did some private lessons with her to get up to speed).
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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TXAgeGrouper wrote:
I do have access to Master's but the ~10 times I've gone over the years I'm yet to ever get 1 iota of feedback.

Did you ask?

Think of it like a relationship. It takes time for coaches to see you, see how you respond to certain situations, and they might have 15 or 20 (or more) swimmers that they are looking after. My experience is that unless you ask, coach may divert their attention elsewhere. Remember, not everyone at masters wants feedback. Lots just go to get in a workout with friends.

To me, the big benefit of swimming masters isn’t so much the feedback from the coach, but from pushing yourself against other athletes.

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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [JasoninHalifax] [ In reply to ]
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For those of you that had success with private lessons, how often did you get them relative to swimming on your own?

Fair point about asking for feedback, something I obviously did not do. I must say I'd feel like a bit of a jerk asking for suggestions when there are sometimes 50 other people in the pool, of which 90% are much faster than me. I'm not a fan of being "that guy."
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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Yeah, but not many of them are there for technique feedback/coaching. Ask. If you get nothing, then that might not be the group for you.

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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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Sounds like what you need the most is to swim more and accountability to do so. You will get that with either a private coach or Tower 26.

What you will get from Tower 26:
  • 4 workouts a week, scaled for your ability level
  • Audio files recorded by Gerry for the 3 main workouts, explaining the workout and key focus areas.
  • Videos imbedded into the workouts that demonstrate what you are trying to achieve and key focal areas
  • Enough volume
  • The right prescription - his workouts are tailored so that you learn taughtness, alignment and propulsion. My technique got better just by doing the workouts (and being fully present), without any "hands on" coaching.
  • Accountability, feedback and community - you will report back on the workout page how your workout went and the coaches will respond. you are also able to see how the workout went for everyone else.

I think it's great (obviously lol), and you should give it a shot.

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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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I also second asking. At the group I joined this year no one else gets feedback but they were more then happy to critique me when I asked.
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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TXAgeGrouper wrote:
For those of you that had success with private lessons, how often did you get them relative to swimming on your own?

As one who has gone the personal instruction route....I get them every 4-6 weeks. I've had two coaches. My first taught in an endless pool, and my current one teaches in a private country club pool. I didn't like the endless pool---which was one of the drivers in my switch to a different coach.

Both times its been an hour of 1-on-1 instruction, with follow up emails that include session notes and workouts/drills, and some video analysis when appropriate. I'll do the drills/workouts for the next 3-6 weeks, and then setup another session. It hasn't been on a fixed schedule, just mostly ad-hoc.

There are some coaches out there that do 30 minute sessions. But, I would NOT do less than a full hour. Even a full hour goes by pretty quickly with the "how have things been going" discussion, as well as the stoppages to describe a change or new drill or whatever. Cost generally ranges from $65-$100 per hour.
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [Tom_hampton] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for the feedback! I've reached out to a few local swim coaches. Hopefully someone will be able to help me make the shortest discipline the least painful!
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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I'll give you some feedback on one thing. I coach a master's session 2 times a week, 4 lanes of a 6 lane pool for 1 hour, roughly 16-20 per session. One of the things I like to do is atleast in engage with each athlete once a session. My fastest swimmers I don't give alot of "feedback", it's more dialogue on how the set is going. My moderate to "slow" swimmers is where I really help fine tune the kick position, the arm entry, etc. But even then, many times just getting 1 piece of advice can really be "enough" to make you think and also adequate. Like Jason said or I believe it was Jason above, one of the best things I like about masters is not the coaching, but the commaraderie within the lanes for the swimmers. Pushing each other to get better, knowing what person should lead off, who should go last, etc. Now that can be tough on "form" because sometimes there is an intimidation and "just get to the wall" mentality where you say the hell with form. But I think if you find a good master's group that can provide feedback and a good workout- it's easily worth whatever entry fee you pay.

Now obviously that can be much harder when you have 50 guys in a 8-12 lane pool, 5 to a lane, etc and you have 75 min swim set. You can get "lost", but for my style of coaching I'm a "small group" style that fits perfectly in a 4-6 lane pool, where I can engage each individual person. Not saying it's bad to coach a 50 person, 12 lane master's group, that just makes it harder with the volume....I'm also TERRIBLE with names, and the thought of engaging and knowing that many people, hurts my brain.

Good luck with your search and progress.

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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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Where are you in TX? If you are in DFW, send me a PM I can give a reco or two.
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [Tom_hampton] [ In reply to ]
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If there are dfw Recos let me know especially north
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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i fully believe in private coaching time if you can afford it. someone right there watching everything you do is invaluable. there is no other way to know exactly what you're doing right or wrong. INSTANT feedback and feeling the difference is what you need.

if you're in the houston area, down on the south side of the beltway is 3rd coast training. im FAR from a "good" swimmer, but i went through the 6 private lessons at 3rd coast to get the basics down and i went from flailing around like a dead fish to feeling completely confident in the water but not yet speedy.

2019 Schedule: Ironman 70.3 Texas April 7 & Ironman 7.03 Waco Oct 27
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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Coaching 1:1, then join T26.

Hands-down, the 1:1 coaching experience I had last year was invaluable compared to everything else I've tried. I was working with one nearly weekly for a solid 6+ months (60-90 minute sessions). It'll be expensive but think of that as an up-front cost. Once you get solid, you can drop or cut back the coaching and you'll be on a good foundation.

I've also been on T26's program for the last ~2 years and still am. The workouts are great. The load is high though. I would work on the technique issue with a local coach first to avoid injuring yourself from the load.
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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klehner wrote:
TXAgeGrouper wrote:
I'm an AOS swimmer and have heard great things about Tower 26 from both the forum and youtube. My question is I'm a pretty awful swimmer (race pace is around 1:50/100) and I'd really like to get better. For those of you that either have a coach and/or have done T26, which do you think would be a better investment? I've taken the odd private swim lesson but without consistent swimming and lessons I find I fall back into my old habits quickly. Maybe structured swim workouts would help?? Thanks!


Your best approach is to get regular on-deck feedback of your stroke (at 1:50/100 (scy, I assume), you are definitely doing something(s) wrong). Failing that, you are likely to habituate your stroke flaws and make them harder to correct going forward. It's a truism in swimming that you are not doing (stroke-wise) what you think you are doing.

Totally agree. Your first few video analysis sessions will be horrifying.

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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [domingjm] [ In reply to ]
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I did T26 last winter and it was pretty good. I'd thoroughly recommend it.

I became much faster and a better all round swimmer for sure. I then got hit by a car (while cycling, not swimming) and couldn't swim for 3 months so lost my impetus a bit but all in all it was a very good investment.
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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TXAgeGrouper wrote:
I'm an AOS swimmer and have heard great things about Tower 26 from both the forum and youtube. My question is I'm a pretty awful swimmer (race pace is around 1:50/100) and I'd really like to get better. For those of you that either have a coach and/or have done T26, which do you think would be a better investment? I've taken the odd private swim lesson but without consistent swimming and lessons I find I fall back into my old habits quickly. Maybe structured swim workouts would help?? Thanks!

I'm not familiar with Tower 26 but you said "without consistent swimming.....I fall back into my old habits quickly" You have identified the problem. A few lessons and more regular swimming would be the winning answer.
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [Scottxs] [ In reply to ]
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I've reached out to a few coaches for information/pricing. I'm currently able to get in the pool 2-3 days a week so if I can make 1 of those sessions a lesson ever 2-3 weeks I'm hoping that will get me on the right track. I'll hold off on Tower 26 until I figure out the whole swimming thing.
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [domingjm] [ In reply to ]
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domingjm wrote:
klehner wrote:
TXAgeGrouper wrote:
I'm an AOS swimmer and have heard great things about Tower 26 from both the forum and youtube. My question is I'm a pretty awful swimmer (race pace is around 1:50/100) and I'd really like to get better. For those of you that either have a coach and/or have done T26, which do you think would be a better investment? I've taken the odd private swim lesson but without consistent swimming and lessons I find I fall back into my old habits quickly. Maybe structured swim workouts would help?? Thanks!


Your best approach is to get regular on-deck feedback of your stroke (at 1:50/100 (scy, I assume), you are definitely doing something(s) wrong). Failing that, you are likely to habituate your stroke flaws and make them harder to correct going forward. It's a truism in swimming that you are not doing (stroke-wise) what you think you are doing.


Totally agree. Your first few video analysis sessions will be horrifying.


Agree!

While I can't comment on lessons vs T26, one thing for sure that is very, very valuable and very inexpensive/easy is to have a friend or random lanemate take underwater video of you both front & side position. You don't need a lot of footage - like 1 length of your typical stroke is fine, and you can buy a cheap <$10 waterproof phone case on Amazon to do it, works great.

I'll bet with high certainty that you will find a few really obvious things to fix right up front without evening needing to pay the $$$ for a coach. And then it really helps to repeat the video later after you feel like you've improved or gotten faster. Video don't lie.

I was totally horrified at my first swim vid, and even though I've gotten a lot better (and faster) since then, I still have enough things to fix that I won't post it here on ST!
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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TXAgeGrouper wrote:
I've reached out to a few coaches for information/pricing. I'm currently able to get in the pool 2-3 days a week so if I can make 1 of those sessions a lesson ever 2-3 weeks I'm hoping that will get me on the right track. I'll hold off on Tower 26 until I figure out the whole swimming thing.


Also keep in mind that you are almost certainly underestimating the amount of pool time and training you will need, regardless of how excellent your coach/instructor is, to improve.

2-3x/wk for a middling AG-talent swimmer will only get you so far, and your current speed 1:50/100 is pretty normal/expected for an MOP AOS swimmer who hasn't ever busted tail for a long period of time in the pool to build their swim chops.

Even Gerry Rodriguez and his coaches say outright in their podcasts that BEFORE you can make the technical gains from his program or from any swim coach, you have to put in the swim base volume and consistency such that early fatigue is no longer a limiting factor. Which means a LOT more swimming than 2-3x/wk, in most cases.
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Re: Tower 26 or Lessons? [TXAgeGrouper] [ In reply to ]
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Not for nothing but you should look at the Slowtwitch Guppy Challenge - it normally runs over the winter but you can start it any time - type "guppy challenge" into the Slowtwitch search file and find your way back to Week 1. The Guppy Challenge will help you get your volume and consistency up if you can commit to 3x/wk minimum - just that alone dropped 3 mins off my SC 1000yd time. This would also get the volume up ready for you to switch to T26.
Also if you register on the T26 website you can download a workout that they post every 2-4 wks or so to get the feel for what they are doing. Lots of good tips on the T26 podcast and filming yourself, even simply with an iPhone, to see what you're actually doing versus what you think you;re doing will help a lot and then you can use GC or T26 to research "cures: for those issues.
I'd love to do T26, I just have to be sure I can commit to 3 x 90mins a wk minimum to get the results I'd want. I love that podcast though.
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