Sunday, August 25, 2013

STOP! In the Name of Love - My Total Immersion Weekend

I have finally gotten to do a Total Immersion clinic! I even got $100 off because I'm an SVTC member (score)!

I have been wanting to do one of these for a while. I've heard that the TI method can really help you take a lot of seconds off your time. And what I'd seen of the approach seemed good. But it is expensive and it takes an entire weekend. So I've been putting it off.

When I first started swimming, I had so many things wrong with my stroke. So corrected them was easy. But after a while I had fixed the easy things and plateaued. Then, the drills that coaches had me do in order to "fix" minor issues started to introduce problems that I didn't have before -- like a severe "crossover" in my stroke.

I was worried that TI wouldn't be able to help me because they seemed to market towards people not comfortable in the water or with really horrible strokes and mine was mostly okay especially when I was concentrating and not tired. At least that's what people who looked at my stroke told me.

But I was wrong!

I guess I shouldn't be so excited to find out I had a lot of things wrong with my swimming but almost all the things I had wrong were things I kind of knew but no one had been successful at helping me with. These include:

- not being balanced and using my kick to cover it up

- putting my hands in too flat

- that pesky crossover that is the only thing people had noticed

- not being "patient" which again was happening because of the "fixes" because I used to be somewhat patient (patient means having both arms mostly in front and not windmilling with one arm in front and one in back)

What I figured out what that I was not arched enough and I was swimming flat and not "downhill." The imagery I was given was SO helpful to me -- we practiced "Supermans" and also imagining we were stretched over the hood of a VW bug and trying to touch the bumper. (My first car was a cherry '69 VW bug!) This helped so much.

Just by doing this, my legs stopped dropping down in back as much. So then I didn't have to kick to get them back up. And when I didn't have to kick, I could do the 2-beat kick that I'd been working on for year and sometime did correctly but often didn't. I used to kick and instead of having propulsion, my kicks would actually act like a brake!

Another thing I was doing was putting my hands in to shallow and then when I extended (as we're taught to do), I would end up tending my hand out in front in a kind of STOP motion. That's the whole "STOP! In the name of love" thing they showed me on the video. Again -- braking.

Suddenly -- it was all clear. I looked find from on top of the water because I was kind of doing it right. But a few things I was doing wrong under the water were causing me to actually brake. So that's why I am SO SLOW compared to other people.

By the end of the workshop, I was stroking at 1:10 (1:00 is the goal though a shortie like me can often go faster), the fastest of anyone and I could easily go half way across the pool without taking a breath. I was breathing more often only to practice keeping my balance during breathing.

The final breakthrough was when they talked about skating and had us practice in a "skate" position. I finally realized -- it really is skating. I used to figure skating and I well remembered how it felt and I spent HOURS stroking around the rink trying to make my free legs extend, extend, extend but that when you pushed off, both feet were very near each other, not one leg in back and one in front.

Swimming is skating with your arms! I thought. And suddenly, I had "patience." Or more of it than before, anyway.

I can't wait to start practicing all this stuff and we were also given some on land exercises to practice as well. I call these my Land Shark exercises.

Finally, another bonus of the workshop is that I got to meet an online friend, someone who used my surgeon. He was there to improve his swimming for his honeymoon in Hawaii next month. But he also said he might do a Sprint Tri next year. FRESH MEAT to practice coaching on! (Bwahahaha. I didn't tell him that part.)

Here's the website of the main coach of our clinic. It has some cool videos so you can work on your strokes too.
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