This was the first swimming lesson of 2018, and the first time I’ve been in the pool in three weeks. Today I leaned a new stroke, and I also learned old truths about my flexibility, and about relaxing.
First though, I did my warmups: half an Olympic pool’s worth of freestyle and again of breaststroke, and a bit of work on big lapses in my technique, like forgetting to kick wide and hard enough with my breaststroke.
One thing I’ve not managed is to kick off at the start. Doing this is a great boon, because those enormous thighs that my coach pointed out tend to propel me half the way down the pool before I have to do any real work, which is a real time saving.
I’m still needing to do more work on my breathing, and an unfortunate consequence of my wife cutting my hair but leaving the top long is that my fringe is now so long that, when wet, it goes down below my eyes so when I raise my head in breaststroke to take a breath, I’m totally blind. I’ll take barrettes and bobby pins to the pool next time. And remember my goggles, rather than have to borrow a pair that were tight enough to work as a tourniquet on my head.
But today I also got to do backstroke, which hasn’t happened since I was about eight. To start, I clutched a kickboard to my chest for extra bouyancy, but once I understood that you have to concentrate on kicking upwards and not just thrashing your legs like crazy, that was less necessary. Ok, I still was far too tense and forgetting to breathe (either in or out), and the noise of my feet rather freaked me out, hearing it through submerged ears, but it was a start.
The arms have to keep rotating, like you’re an inept pub brawler resorting to windmilling your arms at your opponents. While floating on your back in a pool. Ideally, those arms graze the sides of your head and your waist as they rotate, but if your shoulders are inflexible like mine, they tend to go to the side more than necessary. But the good news is all my climbing exercises should help my swimming, and vice versa.