Week three of the Swim for Tri Learn Front Crawl class (http://bit.ly/muH5V6) and I am making progress. After two weeks of breathing and kicking drills, this week our class has graduated to adding arms to the equation, and Keeley, our ever-cheerful teacher, shows us how to ‘shark’ after we breathe, pulling our arm up to mimick a shark’s fin as we rotate through the water. This sharking movement, she tells us, will later form part of the recovery phase of the stroke.
As last week, we also get to wear our swimming fins, which help propel us through the drills. These are a big hit with everybody. One of my classmates says they make her feel ‘like a mermaid’, and we all enjoy the way they make us higher and faster in the water. Anything that helps me to drink less chlorine is very welcome.
Much of the class is taken up with repeating the drills we have done from the week before – this both gives us confidence as we can see how much we’ve improved, and helps our muscles to learn through repetition. Keeley tells us that it takes 15,000 repetitions of the correct movement to build muscle memory, so we’ve got a long way to go. Although I have been working hard in the pool outside lesson time, I doubt practise is ever going to make perfect.
At the end of this week’s hour, we do four lengths of our fledgling crawl without the fins, adding the shark’s fin exercise to our leg kick, breathing and rotation. I’d love to say mine was brilliant, but I swallowed a lot of water and at one point thought I was drowning!
But it says something about Keeley’s teaching that I still came away confident that I will be able to put it all together eventually – I’ve improved loads in just three hours.
I am so confident, in fact, that I’ve started looking for my first proper open water race to release my crawl onto the world, probably the Open Water Swim Series event in Marlow in July. Watch this space!