Total Immersion Level 2 Week #5

Dry Land

Shane started our time together with dry land training focus. We worked on integrating the head roll of breathing on land, before we were face down in the water. While working on land, it struck me that I finally no longer feel silly as we go through all our motions. Shane’s subtle corrections to my form here really help my stroke in the pool.

A Little Light Reading

One of the coolest things about my class is that we are getting to know each other and feel safe asking questions, sharing stories about our swimming, and just feeling comfortable together.  As we chatted about our week’s highlights, one of my classmates recommended a book that she recently read, and Shane shared one of his favorite titles as well. I’m always looking for a good read in the running and fitness genre, so I made sure to note the titles. Now, I have two more books in my reading queue.


After we spent our time doing our standard house of cards (tempo trainer work, focus on our patient lead arm, relaxed swimming and focus on our poise point), we added breathing to the mix with a vengeance!

I’ve been rather confident about my breathing lately. I know that I’m still lifting my head too far out of the water, and that my poise point is altered on a breathing stroke, BUT I’ve really imprinted alternate side breathing. Even when I share a lane, I can still keep the alternate side breathing going (in the past any stress added to swimming caused me to revert back to single side breath). All that confidence vanished when we started intense breath focus.

We used fins for a Breathe and Glide drill that we’d worked on in the past, only with fins. We focused on timing our breath with core rotation and extension, our head position all while refining our target and working on our poise point. As with most drills with fins, this was lovely!

It was when the fins came off that things got really hard! Shane asked us to breathe every time on one side. We did 50 yards with right side breathing every stroke, followed by 50 yards on the left while breathing every stroke, and then 50 yards of bilateral breathing. He asked us to count our strokes for each 25 yard segment. I was at 20 strokes for my right side, 22 for left, and 21 for the bilateral. However, while left side breathing I truly felt like I was drowning!! I was really surprised at how challenging left side breathing felt.

Waiting to Exhale

And then there’s the timing for releasing the breath. For some reason, the moment I grab air, I expel it. I sometimes wonder why I bother to get it in the first place! We discussed slowly releasing our air, keeping enough to stay buoyant until the next breathing opportunity. I find that I’m able to do this when I really focus on it. If I forget to focus, the air leaves right away. Thinking more about it, it is very much like the patient lead arm. When we first started this journey, we all struggled with leaving our arm out front and staying patient. Now, unless it is a breathing stroke we’ve all nailed this, and we’re even getting it 90% of the time on breathing strokes. It is truly all about imprinting.

The Video

There were six of us in class this week. Our actual class has 4 members, but Shane also offers a Monday evening session. There was a snowstorm on Monday, and two members from the Monday class joined us. We took 2 lanes, and in the lane I found myself swimming next to Deidra for part of the evening. At first this caused me great stress. I wasn’t able to swim next to her without trying to keep up. As a result, my form was sloppy, and my head was thinking, “You’re losing ground! You can’t keep up.” But, as time went on, I calmed my thinking, reminding myself that this was class #5 of 8. I couldn’t waste the valuable learning opportunity from one class because I was trying to “race” with my classmate when she didn’t even know I was racing her. The cool part of swimming next to someone for me is that I pick up bits of their stroke. I noticed how “fishlike” Deidra was looking. She was achieving the snap from the core and the glide much better than I was. She was very streamlined. The video Shane captured this week clearly shows that difference. I was rather happy to see that my video had both of us swimming. (Of course I got Deidra’s permission before posting it).

IMG 1203 from Scott Dawson on Vimeo.

Baseline Mile

After 13 classes (between level 1 and 2) I decided it was time to swim a mile (or as much of a mile as I had time for before yoga). I started by sharing a lane with another gentleman, and he promptly got out after about 5 minutes. Then, I saw Shane appear at the end of the lane. He hopped in next to me. We exchanged quick hellos and he started to swim. I really enjoyed the opportunity to watch him swim. He had mentioned during class that my arms were lifting really high out of the water. I watched his arms and focused on keeping my arms as much like his as I could. I found it easier to focus on my poise point and snapping while in the lane next to him. I ended up completing 60 of the 70.66 lengths needed for a mile. When I worked out the pace it was 43 minutes. I was originally VERY impressed with myself, even emailing two of my classmates to share how much faster it was than my old swimming. However, when I went to check my Daily Mile data, I discovered that it wasn’t my fastest swim. In fact it is similar to many other half mile swim times. BUT, when compared to the one time I swam a mile back in November it was 7 minutes faster. Shane likes to remind us that our first priority is to improve our stroke and efficiency so that we’re not exerting as much energy while swimming. Later we can focus on also improving our time. With that metric for success, I have really succeeded. I was not a bit tired after this swim, I just ran out of time.

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