There is a big difference between swimming for pleasure and swimming for sport. I went the first 10 weeks grunting it out in the pool thinking I was really improving. Then, I discovered that my technique wasn’t so hot. I tried changing it to follow some video tutorials (see this post) but it still didn’t feel right. Fortunately, I met a fellow triathlete that suggested the book Total Immersion: The Revolutionary Way To Swim Better, Faster, and Easier by Terry Laughlin. In reading it, I found out I really don’t know how to swim!
Finding Balance In Learning How To Swim
The first issue discussed is balancing. After attempting the previous work on technique, I stumbled upon a video by the Navy Seals about swimming. They use a side stroke for all of their training. That, of course, won’t work well for a triathlon. But, the beginning of the video was all about balance. Then, I read the first part of the book above, and it starts with the same drills and ideas on balance.
I have never been able to actually float on my back in the water. I just assumed I did not have enough body mass or whatever to make it happen. But with the instruction in the book about using your lungs as a buoy, I was able to relax on my back and go the length of the pool in complete relaxation. I could do it for hours if I had to. It would not win any races but it would allow me to go as far as possible.
Balancing On My Side
Currently, I am working on staying on my back and rotating to one side. I am still just using my legs and my arms are to my side. It is amazing to me that I can do this for as many lengths as possible. My right side is more relaxed than my left but not much. I cannot believe how simple it is becoming to find balance and allow the water to hold me up.
Next up, is to extend the body. This idea, according to the book and my sailing lessons, comes from naval boat architecture. The longer the hull in the water the faster it will move. I could have worked on it today, but I thought I still needed more time to master lying flat and doing the side drills.
Grunting It Out Is Usually Bad Form
I should have known not to “grunt” my way to more distance. I say, “I should have known,” because it’s exactly the type of thinking I use every day teaching guitar. Though I’m not “working” in the water at the moment. I am getting the technique that hopefully will allow for endless miles of swimming.