I made a breakthrough this week.
And I’ve got 30 minutes left of my lunch break to tell you about it. (Those who know the way I write will know that getting a blog post written and published in such a short time is actually quite a ridiculous task, but hey. I like a challenge).
This week I was forced to bite the bullet and try to do something I’d convinced myself I couldn’t do. I’ve been making excuses for months about how I ‘can only swim one length at a time’, before ‘needing a break’ to swim another. I’ve been banging on about how I can’t get the breathing right, often reaching the other side of the pool gasping for air and as for bi-lateral breathing?!
There’s no way I can do that.
Well, the thing is… this week I did. Thanks to the really busy slow lane in the pool on Tuesday morning, (I mean seriously, does EVERYONE have to get on these early morning endorphins?!), I had to abandon all hope of doing any of my session in backstroke, and do the whole 16 lengths front crawl so I could see where I was going.
I picked up a trusty pull buoy, waited for a gap in the stream of (not so slow) slow lane swimmers, and went for it. I swam 16 lengths in total, all front crawl and mostly in 50m segments – 10 with a pull buoy and six without. I left the pool elated, and proud, and excited about the progress I can make from now until my tri.
22 minutes left.
Then, this morning, I swam 20 lengths, all front crawl, 12 with a pull buoy, eight without, with minimal breaks between (mostly) 50m segments. It took me 25 minutes in total, so no records for speed, but a good place to start.
I also tried to really focus on improving my stroke and had a proper go at breathing on the left side as well as the right – and promptly drank half the pool, but made it work for probably a couple of lengths in total if you add it all up.
Not so sure the guy who got a face full of backwashed chlorine as he passed me was too impressed but hey.
I’m now really excited about the next few weeks training knowing that actually, I can swim, I can learn to breathe on both sides, and I can, in theory, absolutely smash this tri. Never mind the fact that it’s open water, in a wet suit, and I need to get over my fear of swimming in the sea to train in OW over the summer. I’ve got seven whole weeks – plenty of time.
Need to get rid of the nose clip too but we’ll talk about that later…
Behold the noseclipped-ski masked- worm-like face of a beginner triathlete in training. This 1 just did 20 lengths 🏊🏼 pic.twitter.com/SzD4fo8tNe
— Tess Agnew (@FitBits_) July 16, 2015
So, to recap, (in no more than 11 minutes or I’ll get the sack), these are the things I’ve learnt that have helped me improve my swimming this month:
1) Look at your feet when you come up for air
A good friend / coach told me this last week while I was flailing about in the sea trying not to die. If you turn to look at your feet when you come up for air you create a nice big pocket of air to gulp, giving you more time to slow it down and relax before going back under for the next stroke.
That is, unless you’re in the sea and a big bastard wave comes to get you. I’m working on it.
2) Elbows up
A few people have told me this, and it’s something I can work on now I’m not gasping for air so much. I’m not sure why it works and don’t have time to look it up right now (6 minutes) but it definitely works
3) Slice the water
There’s a lot to be said for not slapping the water on entry with a big flat hand. Instead, turn your hand 45 degrees to slice the water before turning it flat for the back stroke. This makes no sense. I’m aware of this. I’ve got four minutes before I get the sack, bear with me here.
So there you have it – three things that have really helped improve my swimming this week, mostly courtesy of Kurt and other swimmers in my amazing BTRS family.
I’m so glad the pool was too busy on Tuesday for me to stay in my comfort zone 🙂
Diamond Tri – I’m coming to get you!
Are you a beginner swimmer or have you improved lots recently? Any more tips for me to improve my breathing and stroke?