At the start of class 8 we gathered on the deck to being our dry land routine. There were only 3 of us, and I noticed that my arm wasn’t getting nearly as high as the other members of my class. Shane came over to correct my motion and I asked about this. He breathed slowly and said, “yes this is limiting the distance you are getting on your stroke.” He went on to tell me that he was reading a book that was going to help him address things like this. My body is my body. I have to work within my own limitations, but there are ways to help improve my reach, poise point etc.
He went on to talk about how something is going on with my shoulder where it isn’t letting go enough to get that long length, and my arm is kind of caving in, making it more difficult to grip and push in the water. He showed me what was happening and showed me what my arm should look like. It is worth mentioning that he’s been telling me this for weeks, but tonight was the first time I really felt like I grasped that this is a big problem.
After a warm-up, we began our focal point work. We started with our patient lead arm and then worked with focusing simply on moving our shoulder forward. This focal point ALWAYS helps put me back on track. That helped me with my poise point as we moved into swimming with pausing. As we went through the series, I didn’t count strokes. Usually I’m very focused on how I am doing compared to my classmates (am I falling behind, am I staying close) but tonight I just felt calm. Sometimes I ran into the swimmer in front of me and other times I fell behind, but I was completely zen about this. I felt Shane’s calmness and was able to channel it.
One of the things that Shane talked about last week was how athletic training could help you approach things more positively. I am working on being comfortable in the water, realizing that it is just wasted energy to chatter my teeth away and think about how cold I am. Instead, tonight I stood still in the water as we talked. I wasn’t shivering. I felt calm. When I approached a drill, I approached it with a positive mind frame and with no expectation past that drill. It felt freeing not to worry about my placement compared to others.
So, when we neared the end and Shane asked us to count strokes, it was the first time I’d counted that evening. The first count – 18. The 2nd count – 18. And the third time – 18. I felt comfortable and 18 was my repeatable count for the evening. This is exciting because, while I’d been at 18 occasionally a few weeks back, I’ve been adding strokes in the past few weeks. During my own practice last week I was typically between 21 and 23. So, doing 18 without feeling stressed out or winded felt great.
Soon it was time to work more on our kick. Shane got out fins and off we went to try the dolphin kick. To do this, we kicked with both of our feet at the same time. We had a brief discussion about the monofin (we were using two separate flippers). The benefit of using a monfin or the flippers in this way is to help the weaker leg learn the motion for the kick. This technique brings the “leg of opportunity along for the ride” with drill. I found a video to show the technique we were going for. This was a lot of fun. It was HARD but a cool way to think about kicking.
Once we switched back to the two beat kick, I learned AGAIN that I am using my right foot to begin the kick. Shane asked us to focus on it, and suddenly I was doing the kick exactly backwards; leading with the right for my right side and with my left for my left side. I felt really silly until one of my classmates had the same problem. Then, suddenly it felt a little better. For more about why I felt suddenly ok to be in a “group” with this trouble, check out this podcast about the power of categories from Invisibilia.
Yin-Yang and Level 3
We finished our evening with a last round of the Yin-Yang drill. Shane asked us to use a minimal stroke count with maximum strength for our first 25 and then shoot for maximum cadence while maintaining technique for our return trip. He shared that his stroke count varies by an average of 5 with this. On the “yin” portion he will hit 13 and for the return “yang” his stroke count spikes to 18. This made me feel a lot better about how this is going for me. For the first two weeks, I somehow missed that our stroke count was SUPPOSED to go up. This drill scares me less now, feeling more opportunity focused.
I leave level 2 excited to begin level 3! I’ve been swimming 3x a week since September. I’ve learned that swimming is not going to be a “quick fix” but something that will be a very slow and steady road. I am happy to have made some nice friends in the class and look forward to continuing on in my Total Immersion journey with Shane and my classmates. I’m so grateful to Ian from Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company for introducing me to Shane, thus helping me begin my focused swim journey!!