Chlorine Chronicle (Archive)NMSC Nov/97 Newsletter
On Stroke Improvement
Letter from the editor
My last two letters have been somewhat tongue in cheek, and totally irreverent as far as extolling the virtues and benefits of swimming for adults. I have reread them and am ashamed to admit that, as the editor of a major, introspective, far-reaching edition such as The Chlorine Chronicle with a constantly growing circulation, I should make a more serious contribution to society in general with this page. Thus, I have determinedly set my jaw and will remain as straight as my keyboard will allow.
This month I thought that I would share my 'vast' experience and knowledge on the matter of correctly swimming one of the four strokes; Free Style (FS) (Never call it Front Crawl as I did once - the coach almost blew a gasket). I do not excel in this stroke, but get by and can look accomplished at it if I really have to impress anyone watching. Recently I have found that my mastery of the stroke has somewhat slipped to the point that I am no longer doing the stroke correctly. As a refresher course to any neophytes in the club who may need it, I have listed some of the required things to remember to do in order to swim front crawl (oops!) FS correctly;
- bi-lateral breathing is recommended
- long arm stroke with hand entry into the water as far forward of your head as possible and not crossing in front of your body
- scull the water out and in and finishing with your arm down at your hips pushing the water
- flutter kick, keeping the kick short and fast
- rock your body from one side to the other (this helps your stroke and bi-lateral breathing)
- try to get as high in the water as possible (this will reduce the frontal area of your body in the water and hence reduce drag)
- make sure you're wearing one of them fancy swim suits that Mizuno, Japan's largest manufacturer of sports goods makes (of course I wouldn't do it justice - Des might!).
OK, so having pointed out these essentials I'll let you know how I'm doing. (Unfortunately, this is where the serious part of this piece falls apart - I mean come on! - have you seen me swim?)
I usually start the beginning of a workout with great enthusiasm, swimming front crawl FS at an Olympic pace, getting in my bi-lateral breathing and doing the flip turns at the end of the pool. My 'flip turn' at the end of the pool is certainly less than stellar. I approach the wall wondering if I'm close enough or maybe I'm too far away (I don't know). Too late - gotta do it - Michele Kennedy's watching. So I flip and half way through the flip I realize I was too close to the wall. I've got water up my nose and I haven't a clue where I am, where the wall is or in what direction I'm supposed push. So I blindly push and smack my head against the bottom of the pool. $/%#@!* Coming up, I find that I've gone under the lane rope into Michele's lane and glance at her, bent over in a fit of hysterical laughter. I say to her as nonchalantly as I can "I meant to do that - mind if I swim with you?," and continue down the wrong lane until I think no one's watching and I get back into my lane cutting off Rosemary Sheldon who glares at me. Half way through the second length I realize that if I continue to breathe bi-laterally, I won't continue. So I stop that until the next workout. At the end of the length I get ready to do an open turn(skip the flip til next time), plant my feet against the wall,....look up and there's Steve looking at me. "So..... Alex, your stroke's gone from bad to worse. Your left arm is looks lazy, it isn't pulling as hard as your right. It's also crossing to the right side. And why are you putting your hands vertically in the water - forget that. Your kick should be harder. Try and get higher in the water like a hydroplane. Your breathing should be on each side. This is how you should do it." And there he goes again......doing the deck stroke..... Meanwhile Des has finished his warm up and smiling sympathetically (yet smugly!) at me, takes his $/%#@!* zoomers off. I growl at him and, leaving Steve in mid-stroke, dive back in the water. My pace now will not win anything at the Olympics, and I'm concentrating on my left arm. OK! lift it out of the water bring it to the front as smoothly yet loosely as possible. Dip it in the water as far forward as I can and scull out and in and finish at my hips. Meanwhile I've forgotten to continue kicking and my legs are now dragging on the bottom of the pool. I'm flailing like a windmill and notice Steve at the side of the pool, watching my progress and sadly shaking his head.
Finally I reach the other end of the pool, dejected and demoralized, ready to rip my left arm off and hurl it across the pool (of course with my luck, I'd hit someone.) Perhaps that fancy swim suit would actually help! I set out with the intention of writing a refresher on how to swim front crawl properly but after re-reading this I should have titled it Not On Stroke Improvement! (*Expletive deleted)