Wow – I wish I had never learned to swim when I was younger! I have realized that I do not have a stroke built for speed… and it’s damn hard to change it now!! In the last two weeks, I finally decided that it’s time to get a little more serious about these triathlon things. Step 1 is to figure out how to swim properly!!! Last year, I’d leave the swim gasping for breath, not to mention that I’d have been passed by the second wave of swimmers while I was struggling along, wishing the whole time that it’d be just be over and I could get on the bike!!!

So about a month ago, a friend of mine loaned me a book on how to swim effectively – Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin. “The Revolutionary Way to Swim Better, Faster, and Easier“. Come on, I can get that from a book? I must say, I was a little skeptical at first. But I finally sat down on the weekend, read through this book, and WHAM! What was I thinking? I was doing so many things so ineffectively!!! Dragging my legs, lifting my head as I breathe, using my arms and not my hips, taking too many strokes per length… the list goes on and on!!!

So on Saturday, I had my first real “swim practice“. No more just hopping in the pool and churning out inefficient, unproductive laps. I focused on drills (I’ll admit – I had never done “drills” before in the pool). One of the first things I am working on is balancing in the water. Who’d ever have thought you’d need to balance while swimming? But it’s true – you just press your chest down, and it magically pops up your hips!! It’s pretty cool, actually, when you get it!! As the author of Total Immersion describes, it gives you the feeling of “swimming downhill” – and it makes moving through the water that much easier!! In two practices, I’ve gone from about 27 or more strokes per length to about 21 or 22. I’m hoping to have that consistently under 20 in a couple of weeks and a few more practices!!

Despite the progress I have made, tonight’s swim was a little disappointing… I spent some time going through the basics again, then started on the next step, balancing and rotating onto your side while taking a stroke. This was tougher than I thought – I still lift my head and sink once I start moving my arms and try to take a breath!!! But at least now I know what I’m doing wrong, and hopefully in the next few weeks I can work to correct it!

Triathlon season starts Saturday, June 4th, and by then I hope to be a lean, mean, EFFICIENT swimming machine!! I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going!!


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