Saturday, July 3, 2010

my swimming world

i love swimming.  i think you either love it or you dont.  i love the peace, the time to think, the feel of it and most of all the challenge.  swimming is not easy.  i am not a naturally talented swimmer.  i have a decent stroke. i am an intermediate swimmer. 

i learnt to swim early in life.  i think when i was about three.  i remember my sister and i would go across the road to the swimming pool while mum was sleeping.  excellent parental control.  we would tell the person at the gate that mum would arrive shortly and pay for us.  i had a blow up blue shark.  we had swimming lessons - at school and during school holidays.  i completed up to life saving certificate.  but i could only put my head under water when i held my nose.  i think this still has an impact today.   my dad hated it when i did it.  we would go to leightons beach with our foam surfboards and dad would hold us until a massive wave came and then let us go - screaming down the face of it until we either got dumped or made it to shore.  we had no fear of the ocean until jaws came along.  i made it worse by reading the book.  we swam in the shark cage in broome - even with a massive hole in it.  i was more worried about sea snakes.  at school carnivals i would volunteer for lower division events and then dive in (holding the nose) and swim 25 metres, take a breath and swim to the wall.  i won a few.

i left school and went travelling.  i had always played sport but this was a remote area.  there was a pool so to keep the party kilos off i decided i needed to teach myself how to breathe and swim.  i swam off and on over time and mostly it was one lap free one lap breastroke and  never more than a kilometre.  i was a true wall hugging lap swimmer.  i breathed just to my right and started with four strokes then air but smoking took care of that.  i think the swimming helped when smoking didnt.

it changed when i moved to perth.  i started swimming at least four or five times per week.  i managed to get up to a mile or 32 laps.  i would swim 500m freestyle without a rest.  i imagined this was huge.  i was still playing hockey at a decent level.  i loved what swimming did for the body image.  i had little baby guns.  no matter how bad i felt  swimming 20 or 30 laps always left me feeling refeshed and alive.  best cure for a hangover ever.  i remember certain swims.  i had a friend who was the maintenance guy at a private school and i would go up and swim in the outdoor 50m all on my own.  the whole pool to myself.  another time i remember swimming on a perfect summer morning - it was new years day and the water was crystal clear and like silk.  swimming is popular and competitive in perth.  i guess when your local race is 19.7k long it is bound to be the case.  check it out.  if you finish it solo you get your own number plates.

then i started working as an accountant and life got serious and the swimming slowed and then halted to nothing. what changed ? well state swim opened up five minutes from home.  they are a group of pools and swimming schools that specialise in teaching people how to swim.  i have pretty much swam three days a week for just over two years - about 37,000 laps.  after three months back swimming i started bilateral breathing.  i was introduced to interval training.  i swam my first 1500m.  i have learnt how to swim in the open water.   my whole attitude, experience and know how is so far removed from my early days.  and i still love swimming.  i swim with the sun coming up and being cold at the moment the steam rising off the water.  you feel great to be alive. 

i have also learnt that what works for some people may not work for others.  people have their opinions.  i dont like the idea of the total immersion promise.  to master swimming over a weekend workshop.  if that was the case then why are people still struggling with technique etc.  but what really pissed me off was the stupid comment on page 13.  it reads 'my total immersion workshops began concentrating on something no other swim coach in america had ever done ; teaching swimming technique instead of giving workouts'.  if this was the case how the fuck did the usa ever win a race at olympic level.  

i have my own plan and i take it from what i believe works for me.  each week i will do a technique/drill focus session, an interval session and an endurance session.  during the week i only get an hour in the evening with the squad training so i try to do at least 2.2 - 2.5 k of technique and intervals.  saturday morning i get 90 minutes so i try for 3.5k of endurance.  this works well as your core isnt warm first thing and that is better for endurance training.   i started doing lung busters over a year ago.  you swim underwater with fins.  i was useless and only made it maybe half way.  i do the 25m easily now and that feels great.  a good way to track your progress is by stroke count and rate.  i use a wetronome.  i did this drill with swim smooth about a year ago (time to do it again).  it tests your balance.  i swam 7 x 50 laps with different stroke rates while the coach counted my strokes.  the results were -

stroke rate              stroke count                time
48                          50                               1.02.4
51                          50                               57.9
54                          49                               55.6
57                          48                               51
60                          49                               49.9
64                          48                               47.2
70                          49                               45.6

what made me very happy and surprised the coach was that my stroke count didnt change.  it meant that just by increasing my stroke rate my times got faster.   they say that at the beginning of a training season the focus is to build your stroke count and then work at the rate.  there is more involved to achieve this but a good indicator of progress.  i try and work  a threshold session into the endurance plan  which is a stroke rate of 62. 

i had a fantastic swim yesterday.  i swam 5 x 400m as the main set.  it took about 44 minutes with a minute rest in between each.  not bad for an intermediate swimmer.

anyway i love swimming. 



Robin said...

I've never heard of a wetronome. Fascinating concept! Off to look it up now.

jenez_world said...

finis have the tempo counter. i think they originated from the metronome that is used to teach music. you can also use them on the bike to keep up your cadence but that would be annoying after awhile. it is a handy swimming tool.