Wednesday, November 4, 2009

From Adult Non Swimmer To Swimmer (Pt 4)



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

Last time Peter committed more time to swimming and reaching his goal of becoming a competent swimmer.

Now Peter is ready to try backstroke and maybe even make it to the end of the pool.

By the next lesson I was ready to try backstroke, by floating on my back and raising my arms over my head and then stroking the water. My kick at this stage was still weak, and in my first attempt, I had no forward momentum, so as soon as I raised my arm, my shoulder dipped in the water and my head went under. I was submarining!

“Bloody hell, I’ll never do this” I thought. But Richard kept encouraging me to plug away and keep trying. He suggested I start doing drills with the kickboard to improve my kick and I learnt to keep my legs loose (they were stiff as a board before) use all my leg with a longer stroke and flick the feet just below the water surface to get maximum propulsion. He also asked me to position the kickboard so I was holding it over my legs and above my knees. This was to ensure that my knees did not come above the water as breaking the surface of the water creates more drag therefore reducing my speed.

I practiced this drill a lot and my kicking gradually improved. I kept trying the backstroke and not long after I could do six strokes and not go under. I just got tired very quickly. I eventually extended this to just over half the pool length 15 mtrs, but I was not going any further as it was too deep down there and I would not be able to stand up ! This was next barrier.

For the next lesson Richard and I agreed I would attempt my very first full length of the pool doing backstroke, and he would follow me down and save me/support me if I did not make it.

I was really nervous but off I went.

Because I was tense and straining, I got to the 20 mtr mark and started to slow down and was then exhausted, and immediately I nervously grabbed the lane rope, even though Richard was there to hold me. Whilst I did not make it to the end of the pool, it was still an improvement, and we agreed to try again next lesson.

Next time I tried I was more confident and determined. I was a little more relaxed and I could hear Richard’s words of encouragement “keep going, that’s good, keep going, don’t stop ! Well I kept going, where was that wall? It seemed forever away, but I finally made it to the other end for the very first time.

I was completely exhausted, and petrified of being in deep water.

I quickly grabbed the end of the pool wall, and I gripped it so tightly that I’m sure my fingerprints are still imprinted into the recessed tiles at that end of the pool.

Wow, that felt great though, I made it finally! Richard was also excited. Now I had to get back. I wasn’t so worried about going back as I knew if I only made it halfway I would be back in shallower water that I could stand up in. This thinking dictated how far I could swim for the next few months. Sure enough, I was so tired that I only made it halfway back, and I took and short break and kept going to the end other end.

It was now April 09, and I was very quickly improving my backstroke and could easily now get up and down the 25 mtr pool. Backstroke was relatively easy as there were no breathing issues with my head above the water all the time. My technique was improving and I was really starting to feel my hands strongly “pulling” the water during my stroke, which helped to improve my speed. My body position was too low in the hips and legs and this reduced my momentum and speed and my arms were not yet coming out straight and were bent.

My kick stroke was too short and too frequent, I had to learn to slow it down and increase the length of stroke and I found that hard while trying to stroke with my arms at the same time. Richard and I had many conversations about this like we always did, and he always had a good suggestion, tip or drill that would help me improve a particular aspect of my technique. Whilst my backstroke continued to improve not much else did. I could still only do the torpedo glide for 6 to 8 mtrs and nothing else.

It was time for Richard to be “pushy again” and help me introduce some strokes into my glide to learn some basic breaststroke.

Next time Peter Start his trek towards a basic breaststroke.

Enjoy
Richard

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