In my quest for a better swimming stroke, I hit the pool five days in a row this week. I feel like I came about as close to “mastering” lesson one of the Total Immersion “Self-Coached Workouts” as I can without a separate set of eyes to tell me how close I’m coming to textbook performance, and moved on to lesson two. Lesson one took me four days to get a solid feel for, but I think lesson two will go more quickly.
A little orientation; the TI Self-Coached Workouts consists of 10 lessons. Each lesson is made up of 4-6 “drills”, each of which has multiple steps to master. The lessons break the entire swim stroke down into the most basic elements, then recombine the elements once you’ve mastered them. Think of Daniel-San in “Karate Kid”… wax on, wax off, paint fence; get it?
Perhaps the most challenging aspect for me is not rushing back into “whole stroke” before I’m prepared. I tried a length or two of the pool after the third day of lesson one, and found I was actually slower. Not really surprising, considering I’m “unlearning” all the compensating mechanisms I’ve developed over the past three years. Each lesson ends with only a few “whole stroke” repeats to introduce how relaxed swimming should feel, but not enough to allow the new habits to break down into old patterns.
Lesson one was all about balance. Lesson two introduces rotation during the stroke sequence, followed by extending each arm in turn for the “catch”. I thought I had pretty good extension during my stroke, but when I performed the reach as an isolated move, I could feel the stretch in my side. Interesting feeling. It was enough of a stretch that my sides were sore by the time the workout was done. I can see why this would make a difference once I learn to do it right.
One unintended side effect of spending 5 days in a row in the pool is that my hair, already a little stiff from all the gray somebody snuck in, is about the consistency of dried straw. My skin has also taken on that alluring odor of chlorine that won’t seem to go away no matter how much soap I use. Ah, the joys of fitness.
While it took me four days to get through lesson one, I was able to accomplish all the drills in lesson two on the first day I tried it. I can’t say I mastered them, but I did make it through all four. I could still feel the balance learned in lesson one, so that seems positive. I’m taking a day off today, but will hit the pool again tomorrow to pick up where I left off. My schedule looks a bit hectic this week, so I may not be able to achieve the consistency I did last week.
The proof will come once I get to put everything back together, but I feel good about the program so far. Having a focus has made me look forward to getting into the pool. I’m pretty sure I look a bit silly to anyone else in the pool, pushing my way up and down the lane for an hour or so without actually swimming. Come to think of it, I probably don’t look much more silly than when I’m actually swimming…