I am feeling quite smug. I’m back in the endless pool at Tri ‘N’ Swim Well and I had been a good girl, I’ve done my homework. I’d practised the drills from my last lesson to get my hips to the surface and practising my balance in the water. I thought I’d be able to rest on my laurels at least a little bit, but no. We go straight onto something else. Unfortunately with this swimming business if you conquer one thing, there’s bound to be something else wrong.
The basics with my body position have improved so we move onto the legs. I thought the kicking bit would be easy. After all, I’d spent hours as a child on the swim team ploughing up and down the pool, arms out in front with a float, kicking and kicking, up and down, up and down. But after the last lesson I realise my body shouldn’t be flat in the water, and it’s not the leg kick that propels me, but rather the driving of the hips from side to side. So there’s a lot of unlearning to do, and I can’t work out what I’m now supposed to be doing, or how it’s supposed to feel. The leg on the bottom should kick and flip me to the other side… I think… but I struggle to work out which leg is the bottom leg. Gill holds my legs and shows me so I can feel how it is supposed to be. The only problem is that I’m resisting her – what she wants me to do is the opposite of what feels natural – and I’m wrestling with her and twisting all over the place. I am frustrated and can’t work it out or get the hang of it. I can’t even store it in the memory bank so I can practise it in my own time.
So we move on to something easier and go back to basics with the fish drill. Or in my case the sinking, flailing, drowning fish drill. It’s similar to the drill from Lesson 1, but this time my arm is not out in front to steady me but by my side. I try to control myself from the core, keep my body line straight and hips on an angle, but not over-rotate. I need to keep my arms relaxed and by my side and kick as well. It’s a lot more difficult than it looks in the demo video.
Five things I’ve learnt… Lesson 2
- Breath of life – Breathing is pretty crucial; if you can’t breathe, you can’t do much else. I need to stop panicking with the drills when I have to take a breath. If I need to I can just stop, take a breath, and go back to the drill. I try to slow everything down, take the time to feel what I’m doing, and exhale in a steady stream.
- If it feels right, it is probably wrong. And vice versa – Learning the new way of kicking is counter-intuitive and unless I’m sure I know how it’s supposed to feel there’s not much point me practising it. I worry that all I’ll be doing is cementing a bad habit, but at least now I’m getting better at being conscious of how I’m doing it wrong.
- Cycling doesn’t work in water – The kicking motion needs to come from the hips, with a kind of flip from the feet, rather than a cycling motion from the knee. When I scuba dived with fins I could do this, but I forgot this when I was swimming in a pool. Swimming without fins should be no different.
- Relaxing the shoulders – relaxing in the water makes life easier, and takes up less energy.
- Practice makes perfect – The lesson time shouldn’t be the time to practise… I should have done a lot more drill practice in my own time, getting the basics right, before moving onto the next lesson.
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