Thursday, March 21, 2013

Swim Lessons

Chlorine hair
My swimming career got off to an inauspicious start as a member of the Mayfair Flyers. The Mayfair Flyers were part of the City of Stockton "B" League.  The idea behind the "B" league was that the participants needed to swim slower than a "B" time.  If you swam too fast (got an "A" time) then you couldn't swim that event again in that age group.

Not sure who thought this was a good idea, but to me it seems to encourage kids not to get too fast.  In fact, a lot of kids would sand bag the entire 2-1/2 month swim season and then blow it out at the City Championships. I like the way Manteca handles their rec league much better.  You can swim as fast as you want, but you can only compete during the months of April - Oct (unless you are a high school swimmer).  This encourages kids to become better, faster swimmers.  Eventually, they make the leap to year round swimming.

Mayfair pool (Anderson Park) is now a skate park
Anyway, during the swim season, we would practice twice a day.  I don't think the pool was heated and can still remember freezing in the mornings.  After practice, we would hang out in the park at the rec center waiting for the pool to open for afternoon swimming.  We would swim all afternoon playing Marco Polo or "Sharks & Minnows".  My mom must have made us go home to eat, but I know that we were usually there again in the evenings for another practice.  My hair was always shiny and green at the end of the summer.

So 70's
Now, you might be thinking that I must have been pretty good after all of that swimming.  Unfortunately that was not the case. (HINT: I never got an "A" time and I didn't swim in high school). The Mayfair Flyers were coached by whoever was life-guarding that summer.  Sometimes they would be good, other times not so good.  A couple of summers, the coaches ended up being a couple of the older boys on the team.  Their coaching style consisted of yelling at people and throwing kickboards at your head if you stopped in the middle of a lap.  Needless to say, there was no stroke correction or any kind of technique work.

Fast forward 30 plus years and I am back on a team (although it is a triathlon team) and swimming laps.  I keep waiting for Coach James to yell at me, but he doesn't.  He is one of the most patient people I know.  I say this because he has been diligently working on my stroke technique since last August and I am finally starting to get it!  Yes, I am a bit of a slow learner...old dog, new tricks...whatever ;-)

Currently I am trying to remember/incorporate the following while I am swimming:
  • Bilateral breathing
  • Hand entry position
  • High elbows
  • The catch
  • Pulling 
  • Keeping my hands wide
  • Hip rotation
  • Shoulder roll
  • Remembering to kick
  • Flip-turns (overrated, in my opinion, for a triathlete LOL) 

Unfortunately, I have been unable to do all of these things at the same time with any sort of consistency.  When I try focusing on one aspect, another one falls apart.  Last night I was concentrating so hard on what I was doing that I ran into the lane line.  Doh!  

Regardless of my aquatic incompetence, I am persevering.  I have a 1.2 mile swim looming in the near future and I need to be ready.  Because James has finally gotten my stroke to come together (thank you James!), I now look forward to swim practice.  Swimming no longer feels like torture.  Yes, it is still a challenge and yes, I have a lot of stuff to work on.  However, I am thrilled to be enjoying myself in the pool again.  Maybe one day James will let us play "Sharks and Minnows" ;-)