Swimming like a ballerina

I love the water. Swimming is without a doubt my favourite part of triathlon and that’s not totally influenced by the fact it’s the discipline I’m best at…
When I took part in my first triathlon I went on a Virgin Active training day and I couldn’t believe the amount of people that were learning how to swim in order to take part in an open water tri. I salute you. I think it’s very brave to learn how to swim as an adult but especially when you’re planning to go into open water. It made me realise that the things you learn as a kid when you have no fear you take for granted. In the last few years I have been learning how to ski and I know that I could be better if I was just that little bit braver. However every time I’m on a run and the slope disappears out of view I have to stop and peer over the edge just to be sure that it’s not a big drop (I am on a blue run this is highly unlikely). Then because I’ve stopped I have to mentor myself into starting again and then talk myself into my first turn. So yes learning something new is difficult but the learning curve is visible and fast.

It is in the water where I feel most at ease. When I get in a pool I always dunk my whole body in to get that cold feeling over and done with. I then do 10 laps for a warm up. This is my start point. My stroke is freestyle (front crawl), mainly because I have never mastered breaststroke, my legs and arms are always out of sync and my head goes up probably when it should go down, it just doesn’t work for me. Then backstroke is usually your call for help in a triathlon although I do enjoy the stroke and then there’s butterfly don’t even go there. Not to say that you shouldn’t mix the types of strokes that you do but freestyle is the one for me and most commonly used in triathlon.
My swim practices will include one where I try different techniques for my arms and legs, a constant swim for distance and then speed drills. I will expand on these different types of swim sessions in a blog post soon. The water is one of those places where I can be alone with my thoughts and when I’m at my best I feel like I’m gliding through the water, like a water ballerina. It is the most wonderful feeling. It’s when your body is in perfect buoyancy, you are breathing bilaterally (left and right) and constantly breathing out when in the water, not holding your breath. Your arm hardly breaks the surface when each hand enters the water and your legs are just a flutter. Then you are gliding and you feel fast. That feeling is why I love swimming. It is probably the reason why it’s my favourite discipline and why I dedicate my time doing it. However I know that to compete in triathlon you have to be consistent over all three disciplines and that is my journey and often my struggle.
Next time you go for a swim, just get comfortable. Take a deep breath, get under the water, breath out through your nose and mouth and watch the bubbles. Float around or try to float I know that buoyancy can be an issue for a lot of people so take an aid like a pull buoy. Try out different strokes, grab a float if you want to concentrate just on your legs and get used to having your head in the water. Just relax, you’ll be a swimmer in no time.

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