Total Immersion Level 3 Week 7 – Starting Flip Turns

The Best Swim Class Ever

I greeted Scott after class saying, “I know I’ve said this before, but that was the best swim class ever!” In truth, I have. I can think of at least 3 times that I’ve posted on Daily Mile or Strava that it was the most wonderful class ever. Many evenings have also been called “worst night ever.”

Tonight a few things happened. First, several of us were talking about the upcoming Tri for the Y, DiDi shared that she came in 2nd in the swim in her recent ocean triathlon (she couldn’t do the other two events due to her stress fracture), and it was a nice sunny evening. It is class 7 and by class 7, the group has always reached bonding/chatty phase which helps make everything feel relaxed and fun. Then, after Dry Land, we split into our 3 lanes. There were 8 of us and we self selected by speed. Our two fastest swimmers shared a lane, there was a middle lane for the other speedier swimmers and the 3 slower swimmers hopped in the 3rd lane.

Differentiating Swimming

Shortly into our warm-up set of drills, Shane mentioned to me that my forearms were still bending out and that I should focus on keeping them straight and relaxed. Then, he began explaining the “fist drill” we’d be doing next. We’ve done this before but this time I was thinking, “I probably shouldn’t do that. I need to work on keeping my arms forward and relaxed.” As he set us loose, Shane said, “you should keep your hands open.”

During the first 50 my head was saying, “Wow you are so behind that you have to do something different than the class.” But, by the 2nd 50, I was out of my head , realizing that I really had to get this. This was an opportunity to practice something I needed to work on while my classmates worked on something appropriate for them. A gift.

The Workout

Shane asked us to use our tempo trainers and start with a 1.20 tempo. We’d swim a 50 without stopping at the wall, and then drop the tempo by .3 when we returned. We did this until we hit a tempo of just under a second, .99.

Normally there is a bit of panic that happens when we are tempo dropping, but tonight this was really AWESOME! It helped me with so many things; keeping a straighter kick, keeping my arms forward, snapping, efficient recovery etc. I managed to stay out of my head for the entire 400 because there wasn’t time to think. I was focused on the task at hand, and it was really a positive experience.

We followed this up with a 200 at a sustainable tempo. For me that was 1.20. I enjoyed this swim. It was a challenging tempo and I felt winded at the end, but it was sustainable. At the end, I asked Shane about proper tempo for a 400 if this felt like it was getting challenging by the end. He first suggested that I change my breathing from alternate side to every stroke, just alternating sides for 50s and if that didn’t help then to drop the tempo by .4 seconds. I will work on that this week.

Learning to Flip

It was finally time. We’d been working on our pushing off from the wall all evening as we swam, but it was time to try the flip. First we swam about 1/3 of the distance of the pool and then did a full flip without using our hands for rotation. This was FUN! I love flipping in the pool and I really enjoyed this. Next, Shane asked us to do a half flip and emerge out the other side upside down. I looked at Anne and she said, “This is where it gets hard. I didn’t learn past this part.” One of my classmates was a synchronized swimmer in school so she executed this beautifully on her first attempt. Others soon followed her lead trying out the half flip. This was hard but also fun. A game to practice in a really safe environment. As we neared the end of class, he had us try doing this as we approached the wall.

I was surprised how fun it was to begin learning flip turns. I thought we’d just begin by swimming at the wall and trying to flip over. I should have known that Shane would have a wonderful step by step method to help us gradually approach this skill.  It felt totally pressure free; a fun way to end the session.

Final Thoughts

As with level 2, I have mixed feelings that last week is our last class! It is so  hard to believe that our Tuesday sessions are almost over. Our last class is right before the Tri for the Y so we’re going to need to have a reunion to talk about how the event goes!! I think 4 or 5 of us are participating this year. But, it is getting warmer and closer to the Cayuga Lake Tri. The next step of my plan is of course continue to work on my form and being more comfortable with the swim itself but also getting into the lake. I am excited to wear my wetsuit that I got from a fellow Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company ambassador and know that the lake swim will be a big journey itself! Perhaps I should try to form a group to hire Shane as our lake coach for summer!!



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