Have you ever done something wrong for twenty-five years and then suddenly found out the right way to do it? Hello and welcome to my life, I'm Ms. Daisy and I'll be your host. Thank you for joining another adventure of What The Heck Was I Doing.
Today's episode deals with swimming technique. If you hadn't noticed, I LOVE SWIMMING. There's nothing quite so calming as repeatedly going over the same tiles again, back and forth, back and forth in the water, staring at that exciting pool bottom, hoping that maybe something exciting will come up - a ponytail holder perhaps, someone's spit out piece of gum (no gum in the pool!), a diamond earring (What? I would turn it in to lost-and-found.). It's like a never ending watery treadmill thrill.
I swim with a swim team. Some of these peeps are freakishly fast. FREAKISHLY. There are four of them who still hold records from their university swimming days and they are total beasts. Others are triathletes - one dude has 6-8 tris this season (that would be summer up here in the frigid tundra) and yesterday's was a half-ironman. His wife does the same ones, but she did Olympic distance yesterday instead of half-insanity. I mean half-ironman. (Same thing.)
Those super dooper fasty sharks are strong, but what they have more than anything is perfect technique. It is what shaves off seconds here and there to boost them above the rest. Their flip turns look like textbook wonders and they can repeat it a thousand times a morning.
So the deal with swimming is that it is really easy, when you get very tired, to become sort of a sloppy floppy. Not quite to the stage of taking a two year-old (or husband) to the mall floppy feet kind of floppy, but walking toward that order. You get the idea. I have this lazy sort of stroke that comes out when this happens. It still looks like a real swimmer, but it feels like a pathetic blob.
(I'm not the old lady at the hotel doing sidestroke, okay? I'm not that bad. I did hold that illustrious title of swim capitan in high school, so I have to be clear so I don't shame myself in front of you other swimmers now. Oh, the shame! Actually, it is. If you're a swimmer, the last thing on earth you want in your whole life is for someone NOT to know that you are a real swimmer. That would be pretty much like someone not knowing your gender. It's this weird thing swimmers have. Add it to my weird pile.)
I try to sneakily spy on the super fast swimmers while they're swimming to see if I can pick up some technique that they're doing that I'm not. But this is slightly difficult as they are passing me by in the other lane at such ridiculous speeds that you better pay close attention because you've got a three second chance to figure it out. But don't worry, in eleven laps or so they'll be back again passing you up, so you'll have another chance.
Last Friday I pretty much struck gold. It was a very un-busy day at the pool and one of those super freaks was going to give some lessons to a few members of the high school boys swim team in the area of their turns and stroke technique in general. I don't even have to sneakily spy today? I'm IN!
Well, ow. How could there BE so many things I was doing wrong? For crying out loud! I am glad for the direct educational points, but I am a bit bewildered at my lack of knowing this in the first place. The detail level is Michael Phelps-ish, to be sure, but every eensy bit counts.
For you swimmers, here's what I got:
1. Longer reach. No, longer. Like you're going to pull a muscle out in your lats. Like a tyranosaurus rex is pulling on your arm kind of long. Keep reaching. (So THAAAT's the purpose of that drill Buns and Rolls!)
2. When you get there, after you've got your freestyle reach beyond ape-like length, start a bend at your wrist. I always kept the wrist straight and did the S-pull with the elbow. WRONG-O. This was demonstrated by the power you can have from boosting yourself up from the pool in those two reaches on the top of the starting blocks. If you're fingertipping it out at an angle, you can't pull yourself up. But if you've got your wrist bent and your hand on it, you've got a strong pull. Transfer to water. Go.
3. Flip turns - always have your palms facing the pool bottom. Yeah. I did not do that.
4. Flip turns - do not crunch your legs up past a seated chair position. It's a half-second every turn - a full second every fifty. You don't get boost from your legs until you're at that chair position anyway, so anything beyond that knee bend is a waste of time.
5. Strong force (using tris) after the S-pull (freestyle) past your hips - almost so strong that you can make a splash out onto your rear end. This was my laziest part. After my S-pull, I was in recovery mode and the tris were not in full force.
For the entire weekend I was sore from using proper technique - we didn't even do that long of distance or that short of intervals. It was all just doing it right. And holy cowzers, it hurt.
It also hurt my brain from having to think about body position instead of resorting to the 25 years of stored muscle memory. Never too old to learn, though, eh?
Until next time -
Peace, love and get chlorinated,