Swimming Lesson #23

When I got in the pool today, I realised it had been a long time since I was last swimming, and I worried that I would have forgotten everything. Luckily, I started fifteen minutes early, so I had a chance to gradually reacquaint myself with the pool.

This was also the first outing for my new gold swimming cap. (It’s gold because, just like Tamatoa sings in Moana, "fish chase anything that glitters" and so my magpie nature couldn’t resist its shine.) My new cap is bigger, so it doesn’t squeeze my head painfully, but it definitely felt weird having my ears entirely covered and that took time to get used to.

But more importantly, it keeps my hair out of my eyes, so breaststroke isn’t a constant exercise in frustration. And it’s gold.

Today was mostly work on freestyle, and that meant work on my arms, and that meant gripping the dreaded Mr Peanut (a peanut shaped block of polystyrene) between my thighs, strapping on a pair of hand paddles, and concentrating on pulling myself through the water.

Things I learned today, in no particular order:

  • I’m using my hands to pull and not my hands and forearms, which would be a substantially larger surface area, and therefore more effective per stroke.

  • I’m not turning enough when I pull, which makes everything harder

  • I can hold my breath from one end of the pool to the other while pulling myself through the water…

*… But that isn’t so great, because it would be more comfortable to be able to breathe occasionally

  • Once you relax (spend half the lesson trying to pull as hard as you can, and then concentrate just on moving smoothly and not on power) it gets much easier and less tiring

  • And I really prefer backstroke to anything else. After all this hard work on improving my freestyle, I turned over and did a few laps of backstroke without trying at all. At least there’s something I’m a natural at.

My arms were really tired from yesterday’s monster session at the climbing wall. I wish I’d chosen two sports that don’t require the same muscles, but there you go. My coach asked me today if I have any hobbies – apart from getting out of breath, I guess not…

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