Improving Swim Stroke After Age 50 Using Swim Speed Secrets by Sheila Taormina – Part 1

An open water swim in the ocean this fall, wishing I could go faster.

An open water swim in the ocean this fall, wishing I could go faster.

Having never been a competitive swimmer, I don’t have the discouragement of feeling like I’ve already reached my peak with swimming.  Maybe I’ve already passed my optimum age for fullest potential compared to others, but I have not given up on personal goals and the enjoyment that comes with getting better at something.  Hence, I went ahead and bought Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes by Sheila Taormina.

I must admit that I was wondering if she could have anything to offer an average, aging swimmer such as myself.  Would her techniques be such that a busy wife and mother would have time to apply them?  Would I even have enough physical strength to see any results?  After 3 weeks of attempting my modification of her workout suggestions, I can say the answer is “Yes.”

I will give a summary of my swimming background, to make my evaluation more meaningful:

  • took basic swim lessons 2 weeks of every summer from about age 6 -12.
  • somehow passed the junior life saving class, but
  • I never swam laps, only
  • spent time playing at various pools while growing up
  • When I got to college, for some reason, I participated in a fundraiser swim-a-thon.  I’m sure I swam mostly breast stroke.
  • I began swimming laps for exercise about 15 years ago when I couldn’t run for exercise (until I discovered barefoot running).
  • I took a few lessons again from the life guard on duty at the gym, which were of minimal impact
  • Nearly every swim was hard, feeling like I was fighting to get from one end to the other, until

Here, my swimming experience took a definite turn due to 3 sources of help: 

All of this gave me a good base from which to take advantage of what is taught in Swim Speed Secrets

  • An interesting description of the physics of propulsion
  • Some history into how swimming has been pursued over the years
  • Why catching the water is of ultimate importance if increased speed is desired
  • Exercises, in detail and with great photographs, that will help the swimmer develop this catch and pull
  • Suggestions for workout routines to really attain goals

The presentation is concise, but appropriately detailed to make the points and enable the reader to know exactly what to do to improve swimming.  It does not teach basics of swimming, such as balance in the water and breathing.  For those, I recommend the 3 resources above.  However, it is obvious that Sheila Taormina likes to coach in a personal, friendly way.  I am beginning to see results, and it is exciting.  In part 2 of this review, I will tell how I adapted the information to my time restraints and physical abilities.


About Laura Blodgett

I am just an ordinary 53 year old woman having extraordinary fun!  My fun right now includes barefoot running, swimming, triathlon training, gardening, discovering how to be a grandma (going by the grandma name of "Lulu"), sewing, studying Mandarin Chinese, learning about the stock market, non-institutional Christian fellowship, cooking, and occasional traveling. Read more about me here!