As you know I'm learning to swim.
6 months ago 25m was my non stop record.
Last weekend I did my first triathlon with a 21 min swim in open water.
A couple of days later I hit the Serpentine again, and swam just about the same as I did in the tri. S L O W L Y.
OK, I thought, I need more help. So on the advice of a friend I called Swim Canary Wharf and booked a session with Ray (turns out Ray Gibbs is a 220 Triathlon Magazine award winning coach).
The bloke in the pool before me was a 1:01 sprint triathlete (that's very fast) but Ray quickly clocked he'd have to go from elite coaching to novice coaching.
So after a chat I hop in his infinite pool (without a wetsuit, I've come to realise my wetsuit has become a buoyancy crutch I fear being without... you'll see why in a tick...)
Infinite pools are not easy to swim in, its like a fighting giant water blower, but I'd been in one once before so roughly knew what to expect.
So Ray asks me to swim for a bit to get used to the pool, then he lets me rest before he turns the camera on.
Above the surface to the untrained eye, it does not look too bad. Right?
You can see in the video, my bum is pretty low, and my legs lower. Streamlined and efficient. I am not.
You can also see the tricep part of my arm catches the water quite sometime before my hand does, this is not a good 'catch'.
Amongst other errors are you can see my arm exits the water at about my waist band, loosing the final part of the arms propulsive phase.
Well that's the good news, because underwater there is a video nasty going on.
Ladies and Gentlemen. This is how not to swim.
Looking at the video here's the main things that are a good illustration of poor technique
- Body position is not streamlined, low bum, even lower legs = LOADS of drag.
- Kicking furiously - that's pretty tiring
- Windmilling arms
No wonder I'm so slow.
So Ray starts to coach me. We work on some catch up drills, the idea for longer distance swimming is to have one arm working while the other arm is extending forwards - no only is the more streamlined, critically it helps balance the body, in theory it should bring my bum and legs up - reducing drag.
As my arm pull was short, Ray asks me to brush my thumbs against my legs, half way up my tights on every of the slower longer strokes.
Here's how Catch Up plus 1 went.
The idea is to do an arm stroke, then have hands together for the count of one. Then pull with the other arm. This is not the real world technique, but a drill to help embed the idea of a better stroke. Catch up minus 1 is what I'm eventually aiming for. That will be one arm out in front, the other pulling, cycling out of the water, and as it passes my head, the outstretched front arm then pulls.
You can see here, I'm a lot more balanced in the water. My bum even occasionally breaks the surface of the water, as do my feet. It all goes a bit pear shaped as I breath, but ho hum.
The hour went really fast, and as you can see Ray gave me a DVD to watch. I'm looking forward to doing my drills, and seeing how I go. I'll do a follow up session in a few weeks. This all feels pretty important as I've now only got 3 weeks until I swim a mile in the Great South Swim.
My big learning here is coaching is there for a reason. And I can see why Ray is a well respected coach. I'm hoping I can take a decent chunk of my swim times with his help.
Today felt like a good splash in the right direction.