Recently I have been wondering how best to find information about improving my swimming technique, speed and performance. The early signs were not promising. Out of an entire newsagents-worth of magazines, I found a solitary triathlon magazine with just one article on swimming training.
But it turns out that help was close at hand. Realising, somewhat belated, that November was NaBloPoMo I decided to find out what my fellow bloggers could tell me. And it turns out that the answer was a lot. Searching the WordPress community has turned up a wealth of useful information, and I would like to share some of it with you below (with apologies to those of you out there that I have yet to discover).
I started out at the Water Blogged Triathlete, a site that aims to help triathletes “swim smarter, better, faster”. I am no triathlete, but there are clearly some basic things that I’m not doing when I get into the pool. Unlike going for a run, I have not been setting my mind to training mode. Running always seemed like a challenge to me, and I treated it as such. Swimming, on the other hand, is easy; you just get in the pool and go.
This is wrong. My mindset needs to change.
For a start, I don’t really know how what pace I swim at. To measure this the Water Blogged Triathlete recommends completing a test set. Their suggestion is to measure yourself over the following:
10 sets of 50m with 5 seconds rest, aiming for no more than 2 seconds difference in pace between the first and last sets
Sounds good, but before I get to that, shouldn’t I be looking at my actual technique? Helpfully, the site is also building up a set of swimming drills, which is where I headed next, starting with the floating drill (worth reading for the stick men alone, if you ask me).
I have known for a long time that I can’t float. Just can’t. If you plonk me in water, I sink effortlessly to the bottom, where I will happily stay until forced upon to kick my way back to the surface for air. But, armed with a brand new drill and in possession of a reasonable idea of where my “T” might be (you’ll have to read the floating drill), I entered the pool with confidence.
This pool isn’t manned by a lifeguard. Rather, it is monitored by CCTV from the reception desk. As they sat there, catching up on the paperwork and flicking their gaze across to the monitor and back, they would have seen me swim purposefully down to the deep end of the pool. On the screen they see me settling myself, extending my arms out to each side to check my “T”. They watch as I duck my head forward, push off with my legs, adopt the floating position and…
Actually, I don’t think they were watching, as there was no sudden flurry of activity, no rushing to pull me from the water. Not that time, nor the next dozen or so, as I repeatedly sank (gracefully, it has to be said) beneath the surface. I tried on my front, I tried on my back. Neither worked.
Perseverance, though, is key. After a lifetime of displaying the floating ability of a large rock, I was unlikely to become proficient at it in 10 minutes. I will try again. I will make it part of my regular swim and, given enough practice, I am sure that it will pay dividends.
And that is just one part of my technique; I have plenty more to learn and to practice.
Next time: more helpful hints, tips and swimming techniques from my fellow bloggers.