Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From Adult Non Swimmer To Swimmer (Part Three)




Peter, one of my adult swimmers. Continues with his experience of an adult beginner swimmers.

Last time Peter found a swimming coach that he could relate to and started to confront some of his fears and decides to commit more time to learning to swim.

This time Peter is starting to be pushed a little harder as he struggles with all the new things he has to learn and master.

The weekly lessons rolled on until the Christmas break.

Richard would get me to try and float on my back and he would be there supporting my body with his hands. He was very patient with me and not pushy at all. In the end, all I could do on my own was just float on my back for a few seconds, but at least I was getting my feet off the bottom.

I was a little scared, but through Richard’s lessons I was gradually getting more relaxed. I was also learning how to glide in the water face down by just kicking, with my hands in a torpedo position and could eventually do this for a distance of 6 mtrs.

I continued to practice these two things over the summer holidays and spent more time in the water at the beach, and in other pools, until my lessons started again in Feb 09. I felt I had not progressed much at all over the break and was actually looking forward to the classes starting again.

It was great to see Richard again. He asked me what I had done over the break, and he then immediately and forcefully asked me to float on my back without his support and this time not to put my feet down. For the first time he was being pushy but also re-assuring! “Come on Peter, I KNOW you can do this” he said. I thought, hang on I’m not so sure, but I will try and I will not be sacred. To my amazement, I did it and continued to float for quite a long time and it felt great. This was my first major breakthrough in overcoming my fear of water and it took four months to achieve.

Around this time I realized and decided that I needed to spend more time in the water becoming acclimatized and comfortable in it and also spending more time practicing the things that were covered in my lessons. I was not going to progress fast enough if I only turned up to weekly lessons. I was starting to go on Saturdays, and a few days during the week after work. Sometimes, I would go during my lunch break to a smaller local pool near my work. I was becoming obsessive as my wife would always say, and had a single minded approach to it to succeed.


One of the other instructors I got to know around the pool centre was Noel and he convinced me and kept pushing me to have extra sessions. “G’day Pete, how many extra sessions did you do this week?” was always his standard greeting to me.

He is a great instructor, very passionate and keen and if he saw me struggling always offered some encouragement or useful tips. If he wasn’t in a lesson, I would walk up to him anytime and ask him different things and he gave me some great advice. He would point out to me all the adult people in the pool who like me couldn’t swim a short time ago and were now doing 2 Kms per session, and he had story to tell for each person. “Now, you will be able to do that by the end of the year if you keep practicing ” he said to me. Yeah, I thought, can’t see how I’ll ever do that.

Then there is Nola. She’s always there either in the pool teaching kids, managing squads, coordinating all sorts of activities with the other instructors, putting equipment in and out and talking to all the parents and other swimmers, and recording notes. I could keep going about what she does. She does not stand still, is always smiling, laughing, and loves what she does. She’s also bloody pushy. She would always see me standing at the shallow end of the pool, recovering, huffing and puffing after my lap, and she would wave her finger up and down the pool and say to me “Come on, you haven’t done anything yet, get going !”. It seemed like every time she saw me I was in the same position. She would laugh raise her head and finger and repeat the same comment. She has provided some really good advice when I could not call on Richard.


I even saw the lovely “Miss” and spoke to her a few times. (I like her now she is not instructing me) I see her instructing young kids and she is good at this. I just don’t think she has the skills and appropriate training to coach adult non swimmers. I have also met countless swimmers, young and old, who I have had interesting discussions with about their swimming styles, techniques etc. I have learnt a lot from these people, and still see them now. Some of them are amazing swimmers they just go up and down the pool doing lap after lap for what seems to be an eternity.

During all these extra sessions and my lessons I continued to practice floating on my back and then introduced the frog kick and glide, normal kick and sideway arm strokes, while continuing to work on my face down torpedo glide, which was not improving. I felt much more comfortable on my back. Whilst I was floating I was not on top of the water, I was at a 30 deg angle with my hips and legs well below the water line. “Come on, get your hips up” Richard would say. This took many attempts but finally I succeeded. For the first time I could feel the water actually supporting all my body and keeping me up.

Next time Peter Backstroke

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