The seem to be as rare as hens’ teeth but on Wednesday night last week I had A Good Swim.
I wasn’t expecting it, it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been in a pool, but I was less reluctant than I would normally be (recently I’ve been finding reasons to pull on the running shoes or get out my bike in lieu of swimming) which was a good start.
It was nice to note that I was swimming faster in lane 6 than my boyfriend in lane 5 a couple of times during the evening but the real achievement was more personal than that.
Usually I can be found at the end of each length hauling in huge lungfuls of air as I try to control my heart rate, particularly in the longer, 36m pool where we go on Wednesday nights, spending at least as long between lengths as I spend swimming them, the concept of swimming continually for 100m as distant as the concept of running the London Marathon.
Usually there is at least one pair of lengths, often more, during which I bob at the end of the pool watching as everyone else swims on, catching my breath; stretching out the cramp in my legs; almost reveling in the sensation of huddling under my personal cloud of DOOM! as I mentally track how inferior I am to the others.
This time things were different. My turns at the end of laps took the kind of seconds which can be counted on fingers, one handed! I completed every single length, from the first warm up length through drills; through fin-induced cramp, dragging one or other leg behind me as I pulled myself through the water; to the bemused sense of achievement at the end.
Technique helps, and mine has been steadily improving over the year:
- Stomach in to keep a flat, hydrodynamic position in the water
- Drive rotation from the hips, twisting the body to spear hands, fingers first, into the water
- Use the hips as a metronome, keeping regular time to moderate the stroke
- Small kicks with straight legs, aimed more at stabilisation and buoyancy than propulsion
- Push more strongly against the water to go faster
There are so many more things I need to be thinking about, but this combination seemed to be working for me.
For a change, last night I was really disappointed to not be able to go swimming. The first time I have a genuine reason preventing me from swimming is the first time I genuinely wanted to go.