Saturday, November 28, 2009

Freestyle Breathing & learning to float - A reply to gizzmo



I received this comment from a follower of the blog (gizzmo) and I thought it would be good to give it a separate post as that way I can comment on it better.

gizzmo: Mr. Roper:

Richard: Please feel free to call me Richard.

gizzmo: I have some really great news for you; I swam my first 25 yards today, I could finally get over the 'invisible force' that didn't let me turn my head for taking a breath earlier :) I feels so great to have finally gone some distance in water!

Richard: gizzmo That is fantastic!

gizzmo: of course, it was not an elegant sight :), I was like a 'fish out of water' or should I say 'human being in water'!

Richard: Big Smile.

gizzmo: I still have to work on my float; I have realized that it is not only my legs sinking but i am going down from the hip; as Peter blogs: a 30 degree angle, I think I am beating him comfortably, the only part I can get floating are the shoulders.

Richard: Little laugh.

gizzmo: Before I pepper you with more questions (very sorry about that; but am extremely glad that someone is answering them), I want to let you know that I was elated when you published the articles about my questions,

Richard: I was very happy to do so your questions on kicking and running out of breath were very pertinent.

gizzmo: I duly tried them out, the relaxed ankle suggestion was very helpful and now I don't have the mysterious lower knee cramp for trying to hold that straight leg and that correction has also helped in overall position as well since the kick is more comfortable now.

Coming to the good old floating :), I have one question though, the second step you had mentioned was (just quoting for reference):

--Raise both your hands above your head or under your head if you prefer.

When I try this I cannot control my face going under water and so before I can try anything I have to stand up! I must admit that just beginning to move the hands behind starts firing off some weird feeling; I had a friend try to hold my head steady so that I could attempt a float and I 'curled' up like a ball when trying to push my hips to the surface; embarrassingly, I have no clue how to express this. It was more like my hips were trying to get to the surface but my legs just wouldn't move!

Richard: With a Big Reassuring Smile. Gizzmo your experience is very common. What you have is a severe case of fear combined with inexperienced coordination of the particular muscles that you want to move. This may be hard to understand but even though you may not feel anxious your unconscious is telling you "this is not safe and I don't want you doing it". You muscles respond by becoming rigid or moving involuntarily in ways that you don't want them too (i.e. head going backwards underwater , legs staying on the bottom of the pool).

Practice is the only cure that I know of. I suggest that you try positioning your body in very shallow water. The toddlers pool is ideal ( made sure you explain to the life guard what you are doing and get their permission). Water that is only a couple of inches deep.

Failing that, try it on dry land. It's not as effective but it's better than nothing.

Try putting a kick board under your feet and head and raise you hips up. Your head should not arch back but rather stay level and your keens should stay straight. Remember the feeling and when you go back into the water copy the feeling.

Also whilst in the shallow water or on the dry land, you can try putting you hands under your bottom and using them to push your hips up. Your hands don't really do anything but it helps give you a sensation of what you need to be doing.

Whatever you do it's about not forcing anything and making yourself fell safe in doing what you are doing. Remember that as an adult swimmer you have a lot of years in which you have developed an in built aversion to the water. It's going to take some time to overcome.

gizzmo: It felt so good when Peter blogged:
---
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.
---

I wish I could pull this off; lift my hips someday to feel being supported on water! I am on the hunt for a coach /trainer to help me out with this, but in the mean-while, if you have any suggestions (or not), it will be great to hear your take on things.

Richard: see above.

gizzmo: Needless to say, thanks again and again,

best regards,
-jack

Enjoy
Richard

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