Got in the pool this morning and for the first time in a long time I decided to focus only on technique. I have been paying so much attention to endurance and building my base that my technique (such as it is) has been neglected. So this morning I took to heart something that Jeff from Macher’s stressed to me as a weakness during my lesson with him. He said that before I can work on getting faster I really need to focus on getting my body balanced in the water. In other words, stop dragging my legs low through the water and try to get up on plane.
After doing a little research and studying my own mechanics I settled on two things to try to focus on today. The first one was to push my head and chest into the water and really try to turn my head to breathe, not “lift” and turn. The consensus being the more you lift your head, the more your legs sink. The second point to emphasize came from watching a video of a great long distance swimmer. He blah, blah, blah’d his way through a presentation but I noticed something about his stroke that was different than mine. He kept his hands forward of his body much longer than I do. In other words, when I swim, my “stroke” hand is already pulling as my recovery hand comes into the water. When I watched him, his stroke hand didn’t START the pull until his recovery hand was entering the water. The net effect of this was to have more weight forward of his chest, thereby making it easier for his legs to float. It’s a center of gravity thing. The more weight I can put forward of my center (chest), the more my legs rise in the water.
So I spent the entire 1500 yard session just focusing on that. My measuring stick was my heels and back. When I could feel my heels come out of the water or my back at the surface, I knew I was on plane. When I couldn’t, I knew I was sinking. This DEFINITELY worked. Less effort and faster times. What I learned:
- Pushing your chest down and rotating to breathe instead of lifting, means you really have to focus on rotating your body to get your face out of the water. My first few laps were “hydration” laps. I drank a lot of water trying to get the technique down… 😉
- You really have to pay attention to rotation on BOTH sides or you end up dragging your non breath side arm through the water instead of lifting it out. This throws off your timing and stops you dead in the water.
- It’s HARD to keep one arm extended until the other one comes in the water! It feels like you are doing catch up drills the entire time. My non breath side (my left arm) wants to pull sooner than it should because I am rolling onto it to breathe to my right. It’s hard to leave it out there long enough. This will take a lot of practice to break the habit.
- It’s easy to feel when you do it wrong when you focus on your legs and back. The difference between right and wrong could be as little as one stroke. This is not natural for me and is something I will have to really make a priority for a while until it becomes a habit.
I like doing focused workouts. Last night I rode intervals with the group and spent the entire time just concentrating on my pedal stroke and proper shifting. The group was kind of weird and very fractured. Everybody either wanted to go really fast or too slow. I got dropped by one group, then another before I finally found someone to ride with. I also cut the ride from 30 to 20 miles so I could finish with a little strength instead of cramping up at the end. Endurance will come. Right now I need strength and technique.
Tonight I start core work. Just some sit ups, push ups and back work. Oh. And stretching… 😉 just trying to add some variety and it’s something I can do at home…!