Who knew swimmers could take a cue from real estate agents and have it pay off.
In case it's not clear at this point, these ladies are really dedicated to improving their swimming! We've been seeing them as close to once a week as all of our schedules will allow, and both Katie and Flaca are making huge improvements to their stroke technique with our swim lessons and work on the Vasa Trainer SwimErg. If you haven't already make sure to check out the breakdown of Flaca's lesson from last week here to read about her work on elbow position and timing of her catch.
The main focus of Katie's lesson this week was on her finish and recovery. With so much emphasis on having and maintaining a proper catch position, the finish of your stroke into your recovery is often an overlooked aspect of freestyle. In order to fully benefit from the propulsion you get from your catch and pull, you need to keep your palm facing backwards and make a "J" shaped movement from the finish of your stroke into your recovery. For clarification, the recovery is the portion of your stroke from when your hand exits the water after you finish your pull to when you place your hand back in the water to start your next catch. Essentially, the entire time your arm is out of the water is your recovery.
To practice and gain better understanding of the "J" shape we're looking for, Dan had Katie work on just the finish of her stroke without actually making any full stroke movements. Lying face down in the water with her hands at her sides, Katie made an egg beater motion with each arm, only pushing backwards and slightly out using her forearm and hand. Dan has his hand in the water to give Katie something to aim for in order to give her direction as to where we want her to finish her stroke.
It's commonly thought that you want to pull back and finish your stroke in a straight line. And in a perfect world, that would make sense. BUT, because your hips are rotating during the entirety of your stroke, it pulls your arm and hand inward towards your body. This movement prevents you from pulling back in a straight line, and will even result in recoveries starting behind you or stacked directly on top of your torso. We use the "J" shape movement to keep your paddle in a straight line and to keep your palm facing back - not up towards the surface - in order to connect the fluid motion into your recovery. The finish of your stroke, the "J" shape, is the beginning of your recovery.
I feel like January can be a very hostile time of year, even if it doesn't appear to be from the surface. Everyone's starting New Year’s resolutions and promising themselves to work harder, eat healthier, and most of all (I'm sure you guessed it), go to the gym. That being said, it's always come across to me as the perfect time to fail. There's even more societal pressure than normal, which can lead to a big let down if you make even the smallest of slip ups.
Well, I just wanted to take a second and tell you how I really feel about it when my friends tell me they're beside themselves because not even a month into the new year they're already back to their same old bad habits: so what? Just taking the time to think of ways you want to better yourself is a step in the right direction. So many people think they're done growing up by the time they get out of college, but you're here working every year at learning something new to make yourself grow and become just that much of a better person. That's huge! So dust yourself (and try again, any early 2000's R&B lovers out there giggling with me?), pick yourself up, and try again. Fun fact? It took me 3 years to figure out how to change one small piece of my freestyle catch. Yup, you read that right. Three. Years. It was discouraging and enraging at times, and I thought I was a lost cause more than once (changing something minute in your stroke after swimming for 23 years is no easy feat you guys), but I never gave up. I tried different things and kept coming back to trying to make that one little thing better. And that eureka moment when I finally got it? It was just incredible. Almost as good as that first bite of a freshly baked cookie (...almost).
You're going to have goals. You're going to come up with lists of things you want to change to help keep yourself growing and learning and bettering yourself. And you're also going to have setbacks. And failures. So what? Take what you've learned from those failures (even if it's nothing, because let's be real, we all have setbacks where we don't think we've gained anything) and keep moving forward. It's almost come to seem like failure is a taboo word nowadays. But who hasn't had their fair share of failures? It's okay to fail, it's okay to get upset (and console yourself with a donut or 4), just keep your goal in mind. It's that simple.
It might seem hard and silly to think that way just because some virtual stranger online is saying this, but you know I'm right. Deep down that nagging voice we all have (that we love to hate so much) knows I'm right too.
Don't beat yourself up over the mistakes, the failures, and the setbacks. Acknowledge them, let yourself pout for a bit, and keep moving forward. You'll reach your goals and have your eureka moments. It might not be overnight, but you will.
I grew up as the kid who never missed morning swim practice. I looked forward to it, I got excited about it. I wanted to hear my alarm go off at 3:43am in order to get up and jump in the freezing cold water and swim 3-4 miles before any of my other friends even woke up for school. Well, most days at least.
I was also the kid who, when she did miss a practice, lost about 80% of my conditioning and spent almost a week getting back up to where I had been before. Which I hated. A lot. And it often felt like I had let everyone down just by sleeping in and getting up at 6am, like any other regular high school student.
Now that I'm old and wise (kind of) I know that missing a workout isn't the end of the world, but I still struggle with my own self inflicted guilt sometimes. Fortunately the swimming world I live in now is much more forgiving than it was in high school, and my body is much more acclimated to resting and taking care of itself too. I know that sleeping in one day when I'm supposed to go for a long swim won't hurt me or set me back. No one will call my cell phone at 4:30am wondering where I am (yes, my coach used to do that, and no, he isn't the only one) and I won't lose my spot in the lane I normally swim in.
Even missing a workout because I have too many things planned for the holidays or I decided to go to an impromptu dinner with my husband won't hurt me. In fact it's usually more beneficial than not.
Taking care of myself and getting enough rest is HUGE when it comes to performance. I wish I had realized this when I was competing, but such is life. I just wanted to let you guys know that it's okay to sleep in sometimes. It's okay to go have that dinner with friends and grab a drink (or three) and relax even when it's not in your schedule to do so.
But the one thing you shouldn't do is try to makeup the workouts you missed. That's when you get into overtraining and can really hurt yourself. So give yourself a break, don't beat yourself up too much, and sleep in a little if you want. Just don't do it everyday, because then you might be in trouble. And I definitely don't want your coach calling me at 4:30am asking me where you are...