I’d been thinking about what my challenge would be this year after last years Le Haute route. It’d been tricky as I wanted time away from competitive organised eventing and to do something a bit more off the beaten track. I have a few sportives booked in, but given the scale of what I achieved last summer in my mind they’re almost a walk in the park.
I’ve come up with the idea of honing my freestyle swim as part of my challenge with the result being a trip to some warm waters in October to island hop or circumnavigate an island or two. We’ll see how it develops.
My swimming background is that I learnt to swim when I was young and was decent enough so when I started training in for triathlons, I didn’t find it a problem. I was quite fast clocking an average of 27mins for 1500 metre swims. I had a couple of swimming lessons with some good teachers in endless pools but found myself being too impatient to wait for results. I just ground out the swim and felt pretty wiped by the time I got on the bike. My swim was certainly not graceful. I also would often find myself getting overtaken in the pool by someone who looked like they were doing ‘less work.’ Clearly my stroke needed some work.
I thought I’d start the year by getting back in the pool and dedicating myself to improving my stroke. I’d heard amazing results by using the Total Immersion Technique by Terry Laughlin so thought I would give it a go.
My first training session was today at the amazing London Fields Lido. It was still open in the wintery conditions and it was a great experience. Training the Total Immersion way is going to make me a more efficient and powerful swimmer which should make for quicker swim times. The training involves many drills to hone technique rather than lap after lap to improve fitness. It’s a new approach for me as for years in the pool I have been taking the technique for a given (even though deep down I knew it wasn’t great) and working on my fitness. Apparently with poor technique with amazing fitness will only get you so far.
Today I was working on finding my natural buoy and stability in the water. There were two drills.
- Float on your back with your face just out of the water, hands by the side of your body. By pushing your chest a little down into the water, your legs naturally came up to the surface and you are more streamlined in the water. Kick to move. The idea is to remain perfectly balanced.
- Use the same body position but add a roll so your face stays exposed but your body turns from side to side until your hand and hips are exposed to the air.
I found the first drill pretty easy to complete and it was very helpful in order to try and find a natural point of balance in the water. The cold air also helped me identify when I was in the right spot! After this I added another dimension to drill 1 by swimming with arms outstretched. It worked well. Drill 2 was much trickier and I could feel that when I turned my hips automatically sank. However after some practice and quite a lot of water up the nose I got the hang of it. We’ll see where it heads after this.
Overall it was a great swim and fun to practice a specific skill rather focusing on lengths. After the swim I felt relaxed and calm as my mind had just been focused on that for 40mins. This is one of the benefits Terry Laughlin talks about in the book. Swimming as meditation. I hope there’s more to come!