There were only 6 people in my class this week, so we had a lot more space for our dry land time. A class mate asked about propulsion with our core and Shane talked about the role of gravity. He demonstrated the arm movement and shared that we could utilize gravity by being on a tipping point as we insert our arm into the “sleeve” in the water. In running, we use gravity by leaning forward until we have to tip to catch our legs and in swimming the tipping comes from the core. Something clicked with this for me tonight, and I was really glad that this question was asked and answered.
We worked on our form out of the water before hopping into the pool to start with 5 lengths of relaxed, easy swimming. As we built our “house of cards” we just kept working on our patient lead arm, shrugging our shoulders and using our core to propel our body. After our first 5 lengths, Shane started checking in with us after each 50. During one of these discussions, he told me that my shoulders were starting to relax. “YAY!!!!!” I was SO happy to hear this. I felt like they were relaxing, but the affirmation was great.
A 10K swim in 2000 feet deep water anyone?
About halfway through class, I stopped mid lap and had a moment of panic. I was breathing just fine in my practice, but it was because I knew that I could stop practicing breathing at any moment. I could choose to go back to stopping in the pool, breathing and then resume swimming because the pool is only 4 feet deep.
“What about when I’m in open water? Or a pool that has a deep end?”
I shared this thought when I got to the end, which started a conversation about water depth. Shane told us about swimming in 2000 ft deep water near Kona. He said the rays of the sun go through the clear water and look like the fingers of God. He went on to tell us about being able to see dolphins far beneath him while swimming. A classmate asked him the longest distance he’s swum before and he answered “about 6 miles.” Wow! He went on to talk about workouts as “practice” vs workouts. I love that Shane is so zen, and his focus is truly on long term growth vs short term. This helps give every session perspective, and has really improved my outlook on swimming. A classmate was having a difficult evening with her patient lead arm. Shane reminded her, and all of us, to accept each session for what it is. Some will be hard and frustrating and others will click along. Our job is to accept this, work on what we can, and keep our attitude strong and solid.
Tonight Shane introduced us to a device called a tempo trainer. This nifty little device sends out a sound at consistent intervals. He had us begin with a moderate setting, then cycle it slower and slower and reverse through the same cycle. The purpose of this series of drills was to help us with our balance and patient lead arm. If our body was not in balance, it would be very difficult to switch at the specified times. After the first lap one of my classmates said “this is SO slow” about our fastest setting, while I felt it was pretty speedy compared to what I’d been doing. Our class was roughly split down the middle about whether it felt fast or slow. At first I commented that it was like patting my head and rubbing my belly at the same time. My focus was drawn to the trainer, and I wasn’t able to think about my form. However, as the speeds changed, I became really comfortable with it. I started to think of it like hockey is to ice-skating. I had to focus on this, so my form just became second nature. I even noticed that my lead arm was staying patient during breathing strokes, something I had struggled with during the first part of class.
Shane offered to swim for us at the end of the class. A bunch of us hopped into the hot tub to watch in warm comfort, while a couple of brave classmates hung out by the main pool to watch. He jokes with us that we’ll get bonus points if we fall asleep while swimming, and as we watched him we couldn’t help but feel relaxed. Things heard from the hot tub, “wow, he practically has fins,” and “he is so calm” to “look at his patient lead arm.” Of course also joked that he needed to work on being more patient (not possible)! Here is a video of Shane swimming.
7 Down, 1 to Go
When this session started I wasn’t sure if I’d make it through 8 sessions, and I certainly didn’t think that I’d start to enjoy swimming. I remember when I first started running; when many runs ended in tears and I felt completely inept with the sport. With all my failed starts I think I resigned myself to thinking that maybe swimming would never turn into what running is for me now; something I truly love.
Last night, during one of our 50s, I started behind one of my classmates and I caught up to her. We weren’t racing by any means, but I’ve NEVER caught up to another swimmer in my entire life. When I did my first lake practice swim with Jenny this summer, before my panic attack in the first minute or so of swimming, Jenny already had at least 25 yards on me. When Scott and I attended an open water swim clinic this summer. When we were practicing starts I was dead last in the 25 yard swim every time! I certainly wasn’t catching anyone then. I’m feeling positive about swimming, and committed to finishing this learning process. My only wish is that we had more than one class left!!