Red Top Swim: Time to Make a Change

I started off my day with a swim today. A one-to-one session with one of my swimming coaches, Tim. The time has come to figure out how to swim. I know. How can I say this?  I have swum across the Chesapeake Bay. I can swim 1500 meters in less than 30 minutes.  Surely I know how to swim?

Yes. But I don’t know how to SWIM.

DH and I swim with Red Top in London – they are SWIMMERS.

Likeness of Red Top Swimmers, adorning a cake. Yes, they are fast swimmers who also eat cake!

A few winters ago every Saturday DH and I would see coaches and swimmers from Red Top – they were FAST. We would watch them flip turn through an hour, leaving us in their wake (literally – these guys created a bow wave that those of us in the lanes next to them would swim through – like open water swimming in a pool!).  In 2011 at the end of the triathlon season we decided that if we wanted to improve our swimming, we needed to join up with them, because they were SWIMMERS. We felt extremely lucky to be able to get a spot – and we also felt lucky to be able to hang on. Even in the “slow lane” we found ourselves doing about 2500 meters of DRILL WORK in the development class. That’s about 1000 meters more of drill work than we had been doing previously. It was a shock to the system – taxing, hard – and EXACTLY what we needed.

Fast forward a year and a bit. I’ve been having troubles with my shoulder since falling in May. I’ve been frustrated in the water, feeling like I am not improving. And I was shocked with the way in which my times differ when I compare my 100 meter time with kicking to that without kicking.  I am 30 seconds slower per 100 meters when I do not kick.

Clearly, something is going on with my shoulders and my ability to pull through water.  If I could fix this, I would go faster. So today I met up with Tim, one of my coaches, to start the hard work.

Tim filmed us in November (and also in April) and it was pretty clear that I needed to fix my arm entry and alignment through my stroke.

But the changes I need to make haven’t clicked into place – NOT YET – probably because I am not swimming enough.  I am only swimming twice a week and I find with swimming it takes a long long time for me to make changes, and requires a minimum of three days a week. I haven’t been spending this amount of time in the water, so instead of making progress I have started to feel frustrated. And I am also feeling the consequences in my shoulder. 

When I get frustrated with things I prefer to confront them – head on. To make a change (for me) means that I have to look squarely at where I stand, what I am doing, and then work bit by bit on the pieces of the problem in order to improve. This is not only how I approach sport – it is how I approach most aspects of my life.

So today I had a one-on-one coached swim session to attack my swim issues head on. I am not afraid of the work required to make the change. I know it is going to be hard to make the time. I will probably need to drag myself to the pool in the morning for an extra session once a week – choosing the water instead of my comfortable bed. But that is what it will take to achieve my goal of swimming faster and most importantly pain free. I also know that to swim faster and pain free will require more work on strength. I have been avoiding strength work as it was irritating my shoulder and my knee. But the time has come to change that too.

To quote my father:

“Nothing Good Comes Easy.”

Indeed. And if it was easy, everyone would do it. And what’s the fun in that?

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