Last year, I attended a 4-day swim camp in Kona where I learned a new way to swim freestyle. My 100-yard swim times went from 2:30-2:45 to 2:00-2:15. More importantly, I actually began to enjoy swimming for the first time in my life!
And if you enjoy doing something, you want to do it more and get better at it, right?
Well, perhaps not if it's an unhealthy habit ...
But swimming, the thing I've really struggled with for the past couple years since getting into tris, ABSOLUTELY!!
So I went back for another swim lesson last week. For less than the cost of a new pair of running shoes, I can get one of the best swimmers/instructors in the world to help me, Karlyn Pipes-Nielsen. Or her swim guru husband, Eric Nielsen, since KPN was out of town. Either way, the benefits of the lesson would last MUCH longer than a pair of running shoes would for me.
I was videotaped while swimming in their Endless Pool, which is sort of like a treadmill for swimmers, making it easy for the instructor and camera to see what I'm doing wrong over and over and over. And I had to swim slowly. Darn, no cheating or hiding faults when swimming slow! If you promise not to laugh, you may click the play button below.
In case you missed it, these are some of the big things that were noticed, all of which would either slow me down and/or make swimming harder for me:
- My right arm was crossing the center line when I breathed left
- While extending my arms forward, my hands (esp. the right one) often did a "wheelie" upward in the water
- I have a pause in my stroke when breathing to right or left
- My legs were splitting open like a parachute when breathing
- Arms "windmilling" more than they should, getting stuck at the hip
- I had plenty of hip rotation if I remembered to do so when pulling
After an hour, I had fixed all these problems and was now swimming perfectly. NOT!
No, I was now just aware of these things and had made some small steps toward improving them, some of which may not be obvious in the next video because they are still mostly in my head!
- Wider entry with the right arm so no more crossing over the center when breathing left
- A slight angle downward with my hands when extending my arms forward to avoid the "wheelie"
- A little less pause in my stroke when breathing
- More continuous light kicking trying to reduce legs splitting when breathing (though definitely still noticeable)
- More power in my pull earlier in the stroke, focusing on a faster recovery (not really evident yet but less tiring for me than trying to put power at the end of my stroke using triceps)
- Hip rotation now a function of shifting the opposite shoulder forward to extend the arm (rather than when pulling, which is easier for me not to have to remember)
It's a work in progress! (TRT 1:52, with some other non-lesson fun thrown in at the end)
But there is no doubt that I'm enjoying swimming now. Two days after the lesson with just the changes that I'd been able to incorporate, I swam 3x300 yards on 6:00 intervals (5:30-5:35) and then 3x200 yards on 4:00 intervals (3:40-3:45), which are some of my fastest pool swim times to date. With continued practice, group swim workouts and that lesson, my 100-yard swim times are now 1:45-1:50 compared to 2:00-2:15 last year. And I know this is still just the beginning :-)
Thank you Karlyn and Eric!!!