I am working towards becoming a triathlete. For around the last 8 months of last year, what with devoting so much time to running and cycling to work so often, I was declaring that 2014 would be the year of the swim.
I love cycling and, after a certain amount of practice, running was not necessarily a nightmare, but swimming seems to be me vs. the water in an epic battle for custody of my lungs.
None the less, against my better judgement, I have started swimming. My triathlon club run coached sessions on Monday and Wednesday evenings at local pools and, on the advice of my boyfriend, I have started accompanying him to the Monday night sessions where the coach is excellent.
And Coach S is wonderful!
I briefly tried swimming last year, for a couple of weeks, and didn’t like it. The coach kept telling me additional things I was doing wrong and, as I concentrated hard on trying to remember and incorporate all these new things into my stroke, I would suddenly realise I hadn’t taken a breath for nearly half a length, turn my head and inhale half a lung of pool water. This would, predictably, send me into a fit of coughing, treading water, holding up everyone else in my land, flustering me into forgetting everything and exhausting me.
Coach S gives me only one pointer a week and I spend the rest of that session (and any practice session I manage to fit in) focusing on that one tip while I do the other drills so that by the next week it’s part of my stroke and I’m ready to move on to the next pointer. My legs are now straighter, kicking from the hips with my toes touching as they pass; my fingers are now clear of the water as they move forward for the next stroke; my core is now tighter, keeping my body straighter.
It’s helped me recognise my way of learning too. Coach S was away this week. The stand in coach gave me an excellent piece of advice: don’t look forward while swimming, look straight down. Rotating the body while keeping the head still is easier when you look straight down plus lifting the head to look forward a little affects the angle of the whole body, sinking the legs and increasing the drag against the water. It’s an excellent piece of advice and helped hugely, increasing my speed while decreasing the energy it took, eliminating the feeling that I was fighting the water. When the coach seemed poised to offer an additional piece of advice I snuck in with a comment about how it was so effective that Coach S only gave me one point of focus a week and he seemed to change what he was about to say, instead reminding me about looking down and elaborating on the reasons.
I am in serious danger of enjoying this swimming lark…