Swimming Lesson #22

I had a different coach this week, and we concentrated on breaststroke. It’s good to change things around occasionally; you get to emphasise different things and possibly have the same thing explained in a slightly different way so you finally understand it.

Compared to a while ago, when it was unlikely that I’d move at all when I tried the breaststroke kick, I can now get from one end of the pool to the other quite reliably. So now we start to tune things up.

Part of this is timing; although I’ve now got the whole glide-surface-breathe-submerge-kick cycle dialled in, I used to use my arms to pull my body upwards, and then bring my head up. It’s much easier to raise your head up first, then use your arms to pull it out of the water. (Although again, I’m making too big a movement with my arms; your hands don’t need to go much beyond shoulder width.)

The other thing is working on the flexibility and positioning of my legs. My knees keep dropping, which is something I’ve struggled to internalise. Ideally, you get your heels on your backside, then kick. And kick really wide. It’s easier to learn this upside down; if you lie on your back with a float against your chest, you can feel better when your knees are breaking a straight line from head to toes. I only get this about half the time, but it’s gradually getting better.

Finally, breathing control. I’ve been going inhale-exhale, when I’m recommended that it should be inhale-submerge-kick-glide-exhale and then surface to breathe again. This is less intuitive, but it seems to mean I end up less out of breath, and breaststroke is meant to be relaxing, rather than an exhausting half hour of work underwater.

Then again, I’m still battered from climbing and shifting boxes. One of these days I’ll have fresh shoulders and will amaze everyone.

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