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Chlorine Chronicle (Archive)

NMSC Feb/99 Newsletter

Coming Out of My Cocoon!

Letter from the editor

This year, being my fourth with the swim club (this fact came up in a recent conversation with Don Clysdale - I thought it had only been three), I decided to get serious about something, anything about my swimming and improve on it. Unfortunately, there were so many things that I could improve on, it took me awhile to decide what it would be. Coach Dave Anderson, gave his group a sheet of questions, and in one section he asked us to list things we wanted to improve on this year. Nothing new about this; Coach Steve Papai had done that each year I swam in his group, only I never really took what I wrote very seriously.

"Dear Steve", I wrote the first year, " This year I would like to do the following things,

  1. Swim 50 free in under 25 seconds.
  2. Learn to do a flip turn flawlessly.
  3. Learn to swim with bi-lateral breathing.
  4. Swim 1500 m without getting tired (under fifteen minutes) .
  5. Swim backstroke with smacking my head against the pool edge.
  6. Learn how to swim about 500 m butterfly well without getting tired. ...
  7. The list would go on, and if Steve didn't lose the ridiculous piece of paper, I surely forgot what I had written and was embarrassed to ask what he had done with it. Each successive year the list was still silly, and at times I did not hand it in.

This year, Dave handed us the questionnaire and I found that I had conveniently left it elsewhere whenever I thought that I should fill it in. Two months after the initial handout, Dave gave me another and I figured that this guy was serious, so I better fill it out. The list was still long, but I think, I became a little more realistic in my expectations. I figured I'd be really lucky if;

  1. I broke 30 seconds in a 50 m free sprint (it won't happen this year!),
  2. I didn't drown during a flip turn. (I still don't do 'em, but I haven't drowned either)
  3. my bi-lateral breathing didn't exhaust me ( it still does),
  4. I could swim 400 m free without dying ( I can).
  5. I could wear a towel under a swim cap to reduce the pain when I smacked my head against the pool edge (Forget about it).
  6. I learned how to swim the fly stroke (without dying after 25 m).

I decided that I would improve my fly stroke. I wrote a piece last year about my attempts at swimming the fly stroke, and how I was rather discouraged, especially at how well Steve did the deck fly stroke. I have watched some of our members swim this stroke and have marveled at how easy they make it look. Michele Kennedy has a great fly stroke, as does Carolyn Odecki. These two ladies have their timing down pat and remind me of dolphins as they rhythmically flow from one end of the pool to the next. B Group's friendly giant, Dmitri Khodko, has a great fly stroke, but I think it's his great upper body strength that helps him rip through the water.

My fly stroke has certainly been less than exemplary because I really never worked at it. I'm sure the reader has experienced the following scenario; the coach assigns a set where the swimmers have to do a 100m free followed by a 100m not-free to be repeated several times. You don't pick the stroke you find the hardest Faced with this. I invariably would chose to do the breast stroke (my easiest) as my not-free 100m.

Well enough was enough. This year I have decided to do much fly as I can every night. Dave pointed out the problems (there were many) with my fly stroke. The best were to not bother kicking my feet, and to glide for a second or two after arm re-entry into the water. After that, the stroke seemed to come naturally. My kick kind of fell into place and my rhythm became.. ..well, rhythmic (although I do not yet feel like a dolphin)!

Encouraged with my success, my plan was to do 100 m (not consecutively) one night, and have added 50 m every night after that. Additionally, I have swum fly as often as I can as my not-free stroke. Dave also has a set where he splits up the lanes into the four strokes and swimmers choose a stroke without really knowing what distance Dave will assign. I have attempted to get into the fly lane every night.

So do you want to know how I'm doing? I'm happy to report that I am now up to around 500m of fly (not consecutively yet!) per night and feeling pretty good about it. I actually enjoy the stroke now and can do 50 m without needing resuscitation on the pool deck! I'm pretty encouraged with my small success which I attribute to my determination to do something, anything to improve my swimming this year. Dave has been very helpful and patient and I find it amazing that he can stifle his guffaws when he assesses our strokes!

You too can improve anything you want. It just takes patience and determination and a little faith in yourself. Set yourself a goal with small steps each night .stick with it!

Alex Golob B-)

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