Learning to Swim – Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated on my swimming lessons.  You can read about Week 1 here.  I’ve had to combine the last 4 sessions into this post.  I’ll admit that I don’t remember what happened at each lesson exactly, so I’m going to describe the types of activities I’ve been doing in my training.

My coach, Leslie, has me doing a lot of kicking drills during every session.  We always start by holding a kick board or floating barbell and kick across the pool.  For all lessons, I’m still wearing flippers and I love it because it makes me really fast!  We’ll do variations of kicking drills:

  • IMG_20150415_191943Both arms out, face down, holding a kick board
  • Both arms out, face down, holding a kickboard that is standing straight up and down (so providing a lot of resistance)
  • Both arms out, face down, holding a floating barbell or kickboard, and doing arm motions on one side every time we breathe
  • Both arms out, face down, not holding anything, doing arm motions on one side every time we breathe
  • Both arms out, face up, holding a kickboard, with a rubber duck on your forehead

The great thing with these kicking drills is it also helped me practice my breathing, which has proved to be the most challenging aspect for me.  I have found that I constantly am getting water up my nose or in my mouth.  The good news is that it’s happened so much that I’m not really scared of it anymore.  As I’ve continued to practice, Leslie has observed me and given me tips to make it easier.  For example, she noticed that I was looking up more than I was looking to the side when it was time to come up for air.  Part of it is form, and part of it is also timing for me.  I’m getting better!

Around session 3, we started really incorporating both arms and were swimming freestyle a few laps.  Immediately, all the progress I made with breathing seemed to go away.  For some reason, as soon as we incorporated both arms, I started getting a lot of water up my nose.  Leslie also commented that my left arm was not coming out of the water enough, and I was really leading with my right arm.  I tend to really be right-side dominant, so it wasn’t a surprise, but I had a hard time fixing it.  We only did a few laps like this in session 3 and 4, but session 5 we spent a lot of time focusing on my freestyle.

I had a hard time trying to correct what Leslie was telling me about my left side, so she took a video to show me.  Once I was able to see what she could see, I made progress toward fixing it pretty quickly.  Within just a few laps I was a lot more even in my stroke on both sides.  I left feeling more confident, but also frustrated that I wasn’t swimming yet completely on my own.  Christina reminded me that I had only been swimming for 2.5 hours, and that put it into perspective for me.  I really did make a lot of progress in that short period of time!

Session 6 was last night.  Well, it was supposed to be last week but I accidently left my gym bag at home.  I technically should have lost that session, but Leslie invited me to try her small group swim class for free to make up for it.  I was in a class with two other people. One woman was just starting out, and the other student was about the same swimming ability as me.  We took turns doing a lot of the swimming drills I mentioned above and also did a lot of freestyle laps.  In between the laps, Leslie had us tread water and pass a ball back and forth.  I left last night feeling like I made a lot of progress. My freestyle is feeling easier, though not consistently.  Some laps are good and feel like I have a good rhythm, and others I feel like a spastic disaster.  I drank a lot of pool water (gross).

The biggest difference I’ve noticed in just 6 short lessons is my confidence level.  I am no longer scared to get into the deep end of the pool, and I don’t have to hold my nose to go under water.  If I choke on a bit of water in the middle of the lap I no longer am scrambling to find something to hold on to – I just get myself together and keep going!  However, I don’t have the confidence to do this on my own yet.  I feel very intimidated by the thought of going to the gym in my flippers and doing my awkward swimming in front of other people.  I know I’ll get there eventually, but I’m not there yet.  Swimming isn’t easy or automatic for me, I still have to think about it.  And it certainly isn’t “fun”…but seeing progress is.  If you’ve been thinking about learning to swim, I really encourage you to do it.  I wish I had done it sooner!

I will be continuing the small group lessons over the course of the next month, twice a week.  I’m travelling a bit in the middle of May, but for the most part, I’ll be able to attend these consistently.  My goal is to be able to do this confidently by the time we start marathon training in the fall.  I’m looking forward to continuing to share my swimming journey with you all!

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Jess

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