Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Swim Clinics ~ A Review

I have attended 3 swim clinics in the past month, each one focusing on a different stroke; breaststroke, breaststroke and freestyle. I have enjoyed each and look forward to taking the fourth and final clinic, Butterfly, in early '08.

We are given about 10-15 minutes to warm up and then we are asked to swim 25m at 80% speed, one swimmer at a time. Coach isn't interested in seeing what we can do when we take our time and focus on our best form, he wants us to go out and swim the stroke as we normally would. As we do so, he films each of us. When the front swimmer reaches the wall, coach repositions the camera and invites the next swimmer to go.

Upon completing your 25m swim on camera, we can go in and change. We then meet in a small multimedia room where coach sets up the camera to playback on a television. Again, we take turns sitting in the 'hot seat' as coach points out all our strengths (if any) and our areas of weakness. We are encouraged to take notes and highlight the 3 areas of most needed improvement.

It is a little very embarrassing. For me, the push off is particularly funny because I have never been shown or taught how to do it properly. The following lists are the areas I'm to focus on for each stroke:

  • Lengthen arms - shoot them forward ("trace the pizza and slice it quickly")
  • Head down
  • Bend elbows more and lift head after hands come apart (as I'm tracing the pizza)
  • Push hips down when skulling (teter totter)
  • Heels up more / knees tighter
  • Streamline first and then push off the center of the wall (rather than near the top)
  • Look up/head back --> toes closer to surface
  • Arm wrestle, then push down (S curve, arms at right angle at shoulder)
  • Stretch with shoulder, reach far
  • Don't cross hands (left) in front of face
  • Right hand slices in too deep
  • Keep high elbow position: extend, position (rotate thumb down, elbow up), pull
  • Slight back arch (noted at push off), pull belly in
Coach had a lot of good things to say about my freestyle form.... thought I'd document that here as well.
  • No breath on 1st stroke - maintained good parallel body streamlining
  • Good rotation
  • Good timing (quadrant)
  • Good floppy feet ("for a runner"), almost to surface
  • Good eye/head position (almost too far)
I make a lot of newbie mistakes. I should've taken these clinics last year when I was just getting started. Or perhaps lessons. I just didn't enjoy swimming as much then. The clinics have really helped me with my form. I can feel a difference during practice - I feel more streamlined and seem to have more power. I am much more confidant and comfortable in the water now.

A few of my dedicated readers have asked about a triathlon. I have to admit that I would really like to at least give it a try. I have a feeling though that I might discover another love and then decide I need a road racing bike. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, I guess. There are a couple of sprint and Olympic distance triathlons here during the summer. I will certainly look into it. If I can convince my girlfriend to do it with me... well then, I'm sold. :)

OSN: Mondays swim was very therapeutic after the 20 miler the day before. I managed to get a 400m warm-up in prior to the backstroke drill (10x25m). Thereafter, the main set involved building from 50m to 250m PULL and then coming down from 200m to 50m.

I loved the pull set as I was able to let my legs just float behind me. I was so tired and even contemplated cutting back on the second 200m for there was quite some distance between me and the next swimmer. I pushed through though and finished the whole set. Yeah!

ORN: Later that afternoon, I came down with a head cold. Yucky, groggy, congested. Tuesday is a typical run day - however, when my swap partner (a neighbor friend has my 2 kiddos over for a playdate and I return the favor on Thursday) called to say her girls were sick - I was admittedly pleased with the turn of events. I thereby decided to make Tuesday a rest day and hopefully get over this cold. I'll plan to run Wednesday and Thursday.... swim again on Friday. Then an easy recovery on Saturday and long on Sunday (just 13!).


  1. that does sound very instructional. I have been thinking about taking a class for some time. But after reading about your experience, I am going to go sign up for the one that starts in Jan.

    I think getting a bike and signing up for that tri is a great idea!

    Hope you feel better... This cold thing is going around the blog world!

  2. Look at you! You're a SWIMMER!

    We have clinics here a couple of times a year but my schedule never permits me to attend. Maybe this year...sigh.

  3. Oy. Breaking each stroke down into components gives me headaches. I hear it's helpful, though, so good luck with that.

    Signing up for a tri would definitely inspire your training, I'd say.

  4. Sounds like you have learned a lot! Good for you!

    I have thought about getting some instructions, but am too embarassed to attempt. I am afraid of what they will say to me!

  5. Your swimming has GOT to help your running. You're in awesome shape!!! I'm sure you will run so strong at the CIM and that you will break 4:00 and then some. Taper time now, enjoy!


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