You guys might have noticed in my recent post on tips for ensuring the perfect way to start the day (you can read it here if you missed it), I mentioned that I was going to start swimming in the mornings.
Well I did it.
Yesterday I was up at 6am, hair up, swimming costume on, fully dressed and out the door 10 minutes later. A new record set I reckon!
I actually had a swimming lesson booked for 7am with Swimming Nature at Fitness First in London Bridge (note: you don’t need to be a member if you book a lesson with Swimming Nature), which definitely helped with the motivation to get up – knowing I would be letting someone else down if I didn’t get my lazy bum out of bed. I made it to London Bridge at 6.50am, with plenty of time to strip down to my costume, safely pop my stuff in the locker and head out to the pool to meet my instructor Sam at the pool side.
Sam was ready to get going, wet suit at the ready, and we were soon in the pool after some jokes about why I was taking so long to get into the water – I blamed how early it was 😉
After having a quick chat about what I wanted to get out of my sessions – so you all know, my front crawl is dreadful, so I want to improve this and feel generally more confident in the water – we started from the basics.
I actually have a little fear of the water too, mainly being out of depth and not being able to breath. It’s getting better, but it takes time, and as I gain confidence in the water and with my strokes, this fear should shrink into the background. So I’m hoping. Psychology knowledge kicking in there!
So we started with just getting used to the water – splashing our face, breathing out into the water and finally submerging under the water, before going onto floating.
Floating was interesting – I always say I don’t float. And on my back, I was proved right! I don’t float.
Apparently it doesn’t matter as many professional swimmers don’t naturally float (I definitely didn’t know this!), and I can float on my front (with my head in the water – therefore bringing up the whole breathing thing, but we’ll see how this goes), but it does mean I’m going to have to work harder for strokes on my back, to make sure that I stay up. We’ll see how that turns out later on.
After getting a bit more confident floating, we did some push and glides. These look a bit like this:
These are great at getting your body streamlined – and yes, I did feel a bit like I was back at school, but I was never really that good back then either, so going back to basics is just what I need! Sam watched and gave me some tips:
- Don’t tense – make sure your arms and hands are relaxed too to set the tone for the rest of your body
- Keep you bum down – yes, I stick my bum in the air too much, making my legs go down, not a good shape for swimming
- Keep your head down – my head was a lot lower in the water than ever when swimming, but it did help me to glide farther, which shows how important streamlining is (I did feel a little uncomfortable doing this, but it was OK as I could see the floor wasn’t too far away and I could just stand if I needed to breathe)
Next up was legs. Now this is where I struggle. Sometimes, if only using my legs, I can go nowhere! Seriously, I mean not a single inch. I told you I was dreadful.
We started at the side, and even sat up on the edge talking and practising the movement of the legs, before getting back in to practise gliding with the leg action.
I have to say, talking about it and actually doing it are completely different. Several times I pushed by bum up too much (what is up with that body reaction?), I made my legs too stiff, I bent my knees too much, I didn’t have enough movement in my feet, my left leg kicked out/round a little knocking me off balance – I can definitely say, it took me a few times to get even close, but after a few goes up and down, with Sam watching, coaching, and supporting, I was starting to get the hang of it. There’s so much to think about though!
Sam had some fab tips for this too:
- The kick should come from the hip, not the knee, but the legs should still stay fluid, moving a little to help push through the water
- Your body might move a tiny bit, from kicking from the hips, but you shouldn’t be turning
- There should be some movement in the feet, they shouldn’t just be rigid
- You should break the surface of the water with your kick (I’m sure I was always told not to splash too much :P)
- Most importantly, when kicking, you should hear a rhythm as you break the surface of the water (1,2,1,2…), you should try and stick to the rhythm. This definitely helped!
It soon came to the end of my hour, and time to quickly get sorted before heading to work (I even arrived 5 minutes early, go me!).
I felt super productive for having gotten up early for swimming, and really do feel like I made progress – even though it’s the smallest of things, they all add up! My leg kick was pretty poor for front crawl, and now I’ve started getting the hang of it, it’s going to be all about practise.
I think I’m going to have to practise a little before next week, but I already can’t wait for next week’s lesson – I’m so eager to improve for holidays and my own fitness and wellbeing.
If you’re not a super strong swimmer, I hope these tips help a little, but if you can afford a 1:2:1 session, nothing really beats the help and support Swimming Nature offer in their lessons – as I said earlier, talking about it is completely different to actually doing it, and it’s definitely helpful to have someone watch your technique so they can tell you what you need to do.
I’ll be letting you know how I get on after my next session too, hopefully with some more tips to help you improve a little – so keep an eye out for that!
What’s your best swimming tip?
P.S to all my family who are reading this – I told you I don’t float (on my back) 😛
*Swimming Nature has provided me with a couple of lessons to get me going on my mission to improve. All views my own.