Thursday, July 8, 2010

Practicing the flip turn

I practiced flip turns today with my swim coach. After a 200-yard warm-up and a 6x50 yard freestyle drill (these are pretty light work; he was protecting my injured shoulder), we spent almost the rest of the hour on flip turns. I've practiced these before but always seemed to drop my hips and/or push off too deeply such that I scrape my back on the bottom of the pool. So we tried doing some in the middle of the pool, in deep water away from a wall. Then we moved to the wall at the deep end. The new thing I learned today is to pause enough while underwater to plant both feet on the wall before pushing off. This way, I can ensure that my push-off is in the right direction and it also makes me straighten out (by raising my hips). Just now I realized that Josh (my coach) told me something else to do while underwater and positioning my feet. He told me to throw my arms out over my head before pushing off. I didn't think anything of this instruction at the time but now I see that by encouraging me to take on a torpedo shape, Josh was teaching me to be more horizontal at the end of the turn. It amazes me how he solves my problems without ever telling me what exactly he's doing. I just follow his instructions and rarely ask "why do you want me to do that?"

Josh is not always full of encouragement but today he was. He was more pleased with my turns than I was, so this gave me extra confidence. I joked "if I get good at this enough to replace my short pauses at the wall every 25 yards, I'll have to skip that extra breath I always take during laps." This was foreshadowing, since at the end of my practice he made me do just that: swim 100 yards with flip turns at every wall. I was tired by this time but followed through. The first one was fairly good, the second one--at the shallow end of the pool--was too deep and I scraped the bottom, and the third one was also deep and rather sloppy. But I was done, and I had never done 4 laps in a row without sneaking a breath at each wall. The day was good. Anytime you push yourself and do something you've never done before, that makes for a great feeling and a drive to keep going. See you in the pool!

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