Limbo Exit Strategy

“How’s swimming going?” my coworkers will ask on occasion.

They remember this because they find adult swim classes amusing. When I told them about my classes last year, some of them exclaimed, “My 4 year old is taking swim classes!” I’m pretty sure they pictured me at the pool towering over a bunch of preschoolers.

My answer to that question these last few months is that I’ve been in limbo. I’m beyond adult beginner classes where instructors spend the majority of their time with students who are afraid to put their head in the water. I’d like to improve my technique and become more confident and efficient.

In short, what I’ve needed is a swim coach.

I found myself on Craigslist after one of these conversations a couple weeks ago and came across this:

Yesterday, we had our first lesson.

This is my first swim instructor who takes a drills-based approach to things. It’s probably the result of her competitive swim and water polo backgrounds. I’m a big believer in learning things different ways from different people, and found this new-to-me approach refreshing.

I had said I wanted to learn to tread water, so went over the concept of sculling in various positions. I tried it upright, on my back, on my front. I tried it to keep myself afloat, and later to propel myself forward.

I have a lot to work on here, but I have some drills in mind that will help me get a better feel for the the motion.

We also worked on egg beaters. They’re mostly still a mystery to me, but we did notice that I was leaning too far back trying to do these. I’ll work on them some more with my overall body position more forward.

I had also said I wanted to feel more confident in my freestyle breath, so we worked on having me kick on my side, with one arm extended, my head turned, and chin tucked. The trick to doing this and not having my nose underwater was a combination of arm extension, leaning my head on that arm while tucking my chin, and some other still-subtle-to-me body adjustments. I was eventually able to do this and breathe at the same time.

Related to rotating to my side, it seems I reach too far to the center with my arms. So we worked on having my arms wider on each stroke, more like Superman and less like yoga.

Then there was the concept my arms in general. I’m accustomed to thinking about what my hands are doing, completely neglecting the existence and role of the things they’re attached to. I’m starting to think I can generate a lot more power if I include them in equation. More to experiment with here, especially on the breast stroke.

Because I like lists…

Freestyle:
– Arms enter the water wider.
– Try that exaggerated side breathing position on the breaths.
– Don’t pause or slow down for the breath. Think metronome!

Breast stroke:
– Wide arm stroke to propel in addition to rising for air.

Backstroke:
– Keep those arms moving! I tend to rest with both arms by my side between strokes. No need for that.

Treading water:
– Work on sculling.
– Don’t lean back while egg beatering.

We worked in the area of the pool where the depth transitions from 4 1/2 feet to 9 feet. I mostly stayed where I could touch the bottom if needed, but periodically floated out to the deeper water and calmly swam my way back to the “safe” zone. Yay me for not freaking out! That’s definite progress.

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