Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Four things learned at swim practice

I had a very productive swim practice today and I want to write down what I learned so I will remember to work on the things my coach taught me. I started off with a 500-yard warm-up. Then we worked on backstroke and breastroke for a total of 1250 yards.

  1. Somehow I lost the body rotation that is desired. I was able to restore it quickly upon my coach's suggestion that I concentrate on making my feet kick toward the pool's side walls rather than toward the pool's floor and ceiling.  And "kick" might be too great of a foot movement here. I think my coach called it a foot paddle.
  2. We worked on coordinating arm motions so that the arm extending behind me parallel to the water surface pauses for an instant before I pull it in to my side. At the same time, that my arm is extended behind me, my other arm should be half way through its rotation out of the water in a position perpendicular to the water. A separate instruction was that the speed of the arms when under the water should be slower than the speed of arms out of the water. But I'm not sure yet how to reconcile these instructions. My coach thought I was making progress here, but it never felt right to me. I will practice it tomorrow.
  3. My coach reminded me how to do turns when doing backstroke. Basically, when I get to the backstroke warning flag extended over the pool, I am supposed to take another couple strokes, then rotate over and do a freestyle stroke to propel me to the wall. Then I do a flip-turn that ends with me on my back rather than on my belly. I did these turns fairly well, though I did have trouble judging when I should do the various steps.

Overall, I'm actually amazed at how many laps of backstroke I did during my hour-long lesson. I am usually tired out after doing two 50-yard laps, but today I did seven 50-yard laps. My quadriceps were killing me!

  1. I did a 50-yard lap and then my coach stopped me and tried to teach me how Olympic swimmers push off from the wall. First, I pushed off in a hands-extended streamlined position rather deep under the water. When I lost the momentum of the push-off then I pulled my hands backwards "similar to the pull of the butterfly stroke." Then I was supposed to bring my hands up in front of my chest and start the breastroke kick to get me across the pool. I was able to do the initial push-off really well, as well as the butterfly-like pull, but then I simply couldn't initiate the breastroke after that. I continued with a butterfly stoke instead. I don't know whether it was because my coach mentioned butterfly, or whether my body just felt like doing the butterfly, but my coach and I laughed about how funny the human brain is and how hard it is to change its behavior once it latches on to something it thinks is right. As the hour lesson came to an end, my coach made an observation that may lead to a rapid improvement in this skill. He said that my butterfly pull was pulling me upward to the surface of the water. If I pull myself forward instead of up, I might get the breastroke kick started more easily. We'll see.

Now I've got to wrap this up so I can go lift weights. I've got upright rows on the schedule for tonight!

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