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From Adult Non-Swimmer To Swimmer - One Mans Journey Vol.2 Pt.1

Remember Peter?

You may have followed Peter's

From Adult Non-Swimmer To Swimmer - One Mans Journey

Well here is the continuation of his swimming Journey.

Volume 2

My Lessons Continued

It was now September 2009, and my lessons with Richard continued, I was getting stronger and stronger with my breaststroke and backstroke, and was still struggling with my freestyle, mainly due to my inefficient stroke and poor breathing technique, which meant I was still getting very tired quickly. This meant that I was very inconsistent, some days I could do 25 mtrs and on other days I could not. I also realized with Richard, that I had my favourite pool for freestyle.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

At “Bayfit” I could manage to do my freestyle for at least a lap, while at the “Roberts St” pool I invariably struggled to get to the other end, with freestyle. I have no idea why this was the case. But it was another little mental hurdle for me to overcome soon.


I was still swimming nearly every day and also introduced a second weekly lesson with Zoltan, a Hungarian guy, who is in Australia for six months. He was a top flight soccer player in his younger days and he is still very fit. He teaches primary kids physical education and is an assistant coach for semi professional soccer teams in his country. He helped me improve my endurance and breathing with flippers. He taught me how to hold my breath under water for the length of the pool. He also adjusted my breaststroke action by getting me to stroke with my hand in a perpendicular pulling motion, straight back, rather than an outward horizontal flat hand and round action, as the former action pulls more water immediately from the beginning of the stroke straight back and not to the side like the later stroke.

It took some time to get use to and adjust my stroke action, but now I am used to it and definitely does gives more distance and power. He also had me working harder on completely separating my kick and stroke, by kicking then gliding and then taking my stroke. He helped improve my kick action by dropping the knees, then making the kick more rounded with a flat foot and then whipping my legs together as I straighten them, then pointing my feet to get the best possible streamline, and glide. At the same time I improved my action at quickly extending my arms straight out into the glide position, with head straight down and shoulders tucked in. (this is best streamline position for maximizing the gliding action).

Later I developed my whole action further by only breathing on the second or third stroke, which also improved my glide and speed. I am very happy with my breaststroke now, as I am doing it easily, fully relaxed with no strain, which means I can go a long way. All I want to do now is to improve my short distance speed and long distance stamina. My breaststroke times have improved considerably from 45 seconds for 25 mtrs to 32 seconds for 25 mtrs.

My Backstroke

Interestingly enough, my backstroke times are the same, and the improvement in time also the same. (Since Jan 2010, I have got the time down to 30 seconds) We also kept working on my backstroke. While it was strong, my arm action was far too fast, and Zoltan always was yelling at me to “slow down, your arms are too fast, and you make too much splash”! He also was working on my hand position to ensure that my little fingers were entering the water first to minimize the drag and resistance. I also needed to roll the shoulders more, and improve the kicks, deeper kicks with more of a foot flick at the end of the upwards kick, and reduced to only three kicks per stroke. My legs were only slightly bent and my knees were now staying below the water as this also minimized the drag. But I still had a major technical problem with my stroke, which I will come back to later.

With flippers on Zoltan got me to practice holding my breath as long as possible under water and eventually I was able to go 25mtrs under water. The trick was to hold my breath as long as possible then around the 20 mtr mark, start blowing small bubbles once I felt I could not hold my breath any longer. The other trick was to kick and stroke as efficiently as possible to minimize wasting energy, as this increases the distance you can go under water to maximize the oxygen in your system.

Me Using Paddles

Zoltan also introduced me to using paddles. These are a great way to improve your strength and hand position when it is entering the water. If your hand entry is slightly out, the paddles throw out your stroke action out completely. I used them for breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle. They are really good but it takes time to get use to them. They are unforgiving if your hands are not in exactly the right position on entry and in the water, as they pull your arm and shoulders and then body out of the optimum streamline position.


I also met the lovely Mairead during my Saturday lessons together with Zoltan. She has that lovely Irish accent ! Mairead and I got on well and we had a lot in common in terms of our swimming goals and existing lifelong fears of water. We also were both lucky in having Richard as our other coach. She started lessons a little after me so I was more advanced, in terms of what I had learnt. I think she felt she was able to learn from my experiences and we would often chat before, during and after our lesson about various issues around swimming. I think I learnt a lot from her also, as she never took a backward step and was determined to achieve her swimming goals, and I could see her solid progress each week, even though she still had some fears with water, she never let that get on top of her . This was great for me as it gave me even more confidence to continue to develop. She also read and followed my volume 1 story on this blog site From Adult Non-Swimmer To Swimmer - One Mans Journey with great interest, and then I read her story From Adult Non Swimmer To Swimmer - Mairead with interest also which followed my story.

Image of A Swimmer (Not Peter) Doing Freestyle Breathing in The Pool
Swimmer (Not Peter) Doing Freestyle Breathing in The Pool
One week Zoltan was away and I had Amy, who was a young lady had just completed her VCE year. She was very energetic and positive person and this was great for me. She was excellent with the young kids. After watching me do a variety of strokes, she remarked that I was going well for the short time I had been swimming. She taught me to take more than one breaststroke without breathing as breaking the water surface for each stroke slowed me down. I can do this really efficiently now with either 2 or even 3 strokes before breathing, and I have the lovely Amy to thank for this skill.

Zoltan also had some unusual exercises and drills. For example he really helped me to improve my dolphin kicks using the kickboard and also doing a drill which was three dolphin kicks then take a breaststroke and breathe, then three dolphin kicks and repeat the process. It took me many weeks to do this and make the other end of the pool but in the end I really liked it and mastered it quite well. It was interesting how you get use to doing a breaststroke and follow it with a frog kick, so initially every first kick I was taking after my breaststroke was a frog kick but I eventually was able to concentrate and only do dolphin kicks on the first and subsequent two other kicks.


One Saturday afternoon I was at Bayfit and doing my usual session, and Nola was working and noticed my weak kick. She was nice enough to give me a number of different drills with the kickboard and without, to work on strengthening my kicking, and her main advice was I needed to work on always kicking strongly from the hip. As always I really appreciated her interest and her good advice.

Next a 4 day holiday on Elliot Island


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