Thursday, March 12, 2009

Swim Clinic

I'm taking the T3 swim clinic which is a six week, twelve session intense swim class. It focuses on breaking down your swim stroke into three parts- body balance, effective roll, and efficient swim technique. I have been a swimmer my entire life, been on numerous swim teams as a kid, spent one entire summer at the pool, and generally feel very comfortable in the water. I am not fast, but I am smooth.

One of the most important parts of the swim clinic is the videotaping sessions, one at the beginning and one towards the end. I had psyched myself up for the first one, which was this past Monday. I kept repeating my mantra of "this is how I am right now and I'm okay." So we did the taping, only to realize we wouldn't watch it until Wednesday, so two more days to wait! The coaches did a good job of breaking the whole class into men and women and filming the groups separately, even though there were only 6 women and probably 20 men. We swam down individually, first taping from the top and then taping underwater.

On Wednesday, we watched the video in our groups and it was eye opening. Remember, "this is how I am right now and I'm okay." First of all, swimsuits do not hide any flaws, and instead highlight them. And the buoyancy of the water allows any body fat to roll and move like seaweed in a not particularly attractive way. And that's everybody, even the two super skinny marathon runner types. If their body ripples and waves even at 10% body fat, then every body will! Second, the buoyancy does make your boobs look enormous. It reinforces (ha) why I like to wear a sports bra under my speedo.

But after the initial weirdness of seeing my body in water, I focused on the swim technique and Coach C was very good about freezing the picture and going in slow motion to highlight certain areas. She told me that I have very good body balance- my head and chest are pressing down which lifts up my hips and legs and makes me more streamlined. I have a good roll, which allows a strong release of energy with the pull. I have an "advanced" recovery, which we haven't talked about in class yet, where you keep a high elbow and relaxed hand to minimize drag on top of the water. So those are all very positive things.

Some things Coach C pointed out to work on- my extended arm is a little too close to the surface which causes the head to rise and the hips to drop. It probably should be about 6 inches further down. When I breathe, the extended arm drops too far down, which causes the stroke to be shortened. And my kick, which I always thought was a strength, is all from the knee and not from the hip, which is ineffective and causes more drag than forward propulsion. Who knew? Of course, probably the biggest limiter to improving my speed is the extra weight and drag. Even with the most balanced and efficient stroke, I will be slower than an equally balanced and efficient swimmer because I'm hauling around an extra 100 lbs. But that is not something that was pointed out or focused on because that is not going to change in a six week clinic. Instead, we focused on the things that can change. "And this is how I am right now and I'm okay."

So now I have a picture of all the things I can work on and improve. Of course, when we did get in the pool after watching the video, it gave me a headache trying to work on all of those things at once. But just keeping the arm extended in the correct position made me feel more streamlined and able to glide. And the remaining five weeks we will drill and concentrate on those areas so that at the last taping session, hopefully there will be noticeable improvement.

So it was just another view of "this is how I am right now and I'm okay." No one laughed at me. Everyone was more concentrating on themselves. And I had a much better stroke than a couple of the women, so if they were looking at me, it was how to have a stroke more like mine. I didn't spontaneouly combust or break down in a pile of tears. I didn't go home and eat a pile of pizza and cookies either. It was fine. It was useful. I can improve my swimming. "This is how I am right now and I'm an okay swimmer."

1 comment:

F said...

How cool is that? I LOVE to swim and haven't done it in quite a while. Wow. so groovy what you are doing. SO groovy. And I think you are way more than OK. Way.