So on Sunday I met a man from the internet, we put our lyrca pants on and got wet together.
Sordid enough but there were children watching as well.
Got to love swimming haven’t you.
Well turns out, despite it being too early to be in love, I think I might have some mild attraction to it after all. Previously I have been reluctant to go swimming, too easy to use excuses about time and expense, but honestly I think it’s more borne out of the lack of body confidence I still have and harbours back to painful childhood memories, when shall I say I was a little bigger and there was a little less lyrca to hide behind.
Open water swimming last year was ok, once you’re in there is no one to look at you and after all you have a massive black wetsuit on, which everyone knows makes you look super sexy. In events I did really mind, after all the belly is always covered isn’t it.
I am aware I have work to do on all aspects of triathlon, cycling is easy to work on – just do more of it, better tempo and power, running similarly increased focus on heart rate, running style and getting more quality miles in.
Swimming I had less of an idea about – my old swimming routine was get in thrash up and down for as long as I could cope with – when doing open water it’s a case of attempting to do 9 min 500 metres for 2000 metres – that was my stable gambit. Get in swim as fast as I could get out, feeling happy I hadn’t drowned and also frequently knackered.
So having watched a number of ironman on twitter tweaking strokes, improving efficiency and technique I felt left out – which is why I basically started harassing Dave Akers on twitter (@bigdaveakers), I think he got annoyed with this and offered to put on a swim session if I could get a number of fellow swim bunnies together in one place at one time. This didn’t really progress at a fast enough pace, or he got bored waiting but suggested he come and do a one on one session with me, either that or the lure of free yogurt was too much to resist.
That’s right a masters swim coach, drove 2hrs to meet me and offered well over 2 hrs. of his advice for free (apart from some yogurts and 9bars).
I didn’t know what to expect and to be honest I was nervous on Sunday pre Dave arriving, but within 5 minutes of talking to him over a brew I understood why he makes such a good coach – very easy to talk to, very passionate about swimming, very encouraging and eager to offer advice / guidance and that was all in my kitchen.
Nerves relaxed, we headed off and I introduced him to the wonderful sights of Wrexham on a Sunday afternoon. I think he was happy to get into the water and likewise I was keen to have someone observe me swim – pick apart my stroke and rebuild it.
I won’t go into too much detail about the structure of the session, but it was all very relaxed, very calm with useful pointers throughout. Dave realised I am a simple sole quite quickly so explained everything in layman terms and remained patient when I forgot what I was doing (frequently) or forgot to count (for an accountant I really can’t count whilst swimming)
I started by thundering along in my typical style so he could observe and establish a baseline of my numpty-ness, all didn’t seem so bad – I wasn’t as bad as he was expecting (I took that as a compliment) and we started to tweak things – introduced some sets of 50’s, 100’s and 200 metres blocks with the aiming of lengthening my stroke and reducing the inefficient nature of my swimming style.
I will happily admit I struggled to start with – the problem being that with so much to think about at once I often concentrated on the length of the stroke and not the pull under the water or vice versa.
From start to finish I went down for 28/30 strokes per length to 19/20/21 strokes with a best of 16 (with a massive kick from the wall) the stroke felt a little alien to me, but not so much that I don’t think it’s workable into training going forward. The pluses to all of this is that I didn’t lose too much speed overall in sets of 200metres from my old stroke to my new stroke despite the last timed block being at the end of the session and I was feeling the fact that I had only swam once since September.
So when this is bedded in, which I know will only happen by getting wet at least once a week, I think I should be equal to my old timings if not better, with the benefit of being able to go longer at that pace and get out feeling good and not knackered.
I have never been coached before – at any of the disciplines – at any point so I have no frame of reference to compare Dave with.
However his style fitted perfectly with me – which might be luck – or it might be the fact that he is a good coach. I can’t recommend his services enough, I really can’t – he has even written me a training plan with useful tips on it to keep me in check and offered to rearrange another session for me in a couple of months to check on progress.
One of the nice things, aside from a few recent muppets on twitter, triathlon and triathletes in general are generally a nice bunch of people – people you could imagine going for a pint with (not that we are allowed to drink alcohol) and always happy to offer some advice and tips and hints. As a sport it’s pretty exclusive due to the expensive nature but generally everyone is a joy to be around.
Aside from a mass swim start – then I hate you all and I would quite happily swim over your face if it meant I got to go quicker.
If anyone needs any help with swimming look up Dave Akers on twitter (@bigdaveakers) or get in touch via his website www.coach-dave.co.uk .
Actually don’t – I want to beat you all in the swim…..