I decided to sign up for swim lessons. Yes, I know how to swim and I could probably get by just fine if someone dumped me out of a boat into a lake, but I can definitely use some improvements in regards to swimming efficiently during a triathlon. The cost of solo lessons were much too steep so I opted for a small group lesson at my YMCA. I already knew the coach who taught the class because he is a regular visitor at the pool. The coach had already watched me swim and provided me with tips for improvement. He told me that I should join the advanced swim lesson group (at least that made me feel better).
So, there I was on Day 1. The coach took the other newbie (another triathlete) and I aside and taught us all of the strokes. What I really wanted to do was improve my freestyle, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to know a few tricks of the trade. At least now I can resort to the back stroke or breast stroke if I need to take a break in the middle of the lake. Actually, I learned that the back stroke won’t help me much in any situation unless I want to totally go in the wrong direction or bump my head and knock myself out. However, my strong legs fair well on that breast stroke. I just don’t really want to use my legs much while swimming in a triathlon…. gotta save them for later.
Regardless of whether or not Day 1 was useful, I went swimming on my own a couple of days later and I felt like I was queen of the pool. I felt so great about my swimming form that I decided to do my timed half mile. It just so happens that I was 4 minutes faster than last month’s timed trial… and in swim minutes that is quite a bit of time!
Then there came the flip turn lesson. I always thought swimmers who did flip turns were the real swimmers of the pool. As I started triathlon training I realized that was not a correct assumption. It actually didn’t make sense for me to learn how to flip turn because I wouldn’t be doing that in a lake! But still, it looked pretty cool and if I ever want to be a competitive swimmer (which I don’t) I should at least try to learn how to do a flip turn. After two lessons on flip turns I realized that I probably will never become a cool swimmer who knows how to flip turn. I am the most clumsy flip turner ever. Sometimes my feet don’t even touch the wall. Other times I hit my head on the bottom of the pool. Most times I get water up my nose. Oh, and that is only when I practice a flip turn without actually swimming laps. The coordination of swimming and flip turning at the same time is just too much for me. I mean, really, I can’t even run with proper coordination.
So, I am focused on the freestyle (and just touching the wall and turning my body). I have learned that my left hand comes to far to the right. Now I keep it in a straight line. I have also learned that my hands flip up instead of down when entering the water. I now have trained them to point down. I have often brought my arms out of the water before they reach all the way back, but now I follow my pull all of the way through. Not sure what is going on with my legs, but that will be the next step in the process. I almost forgot how much I enjoyed learning. And I am even becoming a better swimmer!