Not the same thing at all

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January 31, 2016 by shortbloke

Each week, while the smallest person is honing her ball skills, I try and take the opportunity to fill the two hours before it’s time to go home with a swim.

This week I was feeling particularly chuffed with myself because I managed to cover the first 400m in a nicely rounded 9 minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. The rest of the swim was 50m sprints with a few scrappy tumble turns thrown in for good measure. With rests in between, the next 600m took about 25 minutes. Average pace ? About 2:15 per 100m. Best pace ? 1:45.

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I still can’t believe I ripped out out the 1,500m of the London Triathlon swim in just 33 minutes but given where I am fitness wise at the moment, I was feeling pretty good about my performance.

The tumble turns seem to be making a difference. I starting practicing tumbling after watching better swimmers do it properly. Whenever I see someone who knows what they’re doing I watch the stroke, examining as many aspects of their technique as I can.

Occasionally I get the chance to watch the pros from one or other of the local swim clubs. Some of these are guys and gals are pushing the edges of Olympic qualification. It’s really quite impressive to see, especially that close up. I might be in the same water, doing a stroke with the same name. But what these guys and gals are going is not the same thing at all. At full pace their kick is so powerful it literally forces their upper bodies up out of the water like a racing boat. And they storm up and down the pool so fast it pushes a bow wave large enough you’d almost expect a pack of dolphins to spring out and surf it.

At each end they duck, turn and torpedo off the wall, legs straight, toes pointed with their hands clamped together at full arm extension over their heads. But the secret of a good turn, I discover, is to remain face up through the push off the wall, turning face down again only when the momentum of the push has almost completely dissipated.

So I think I know what I need to do. Now all I have to do is get it working smoothly. It’s hard timing the rotation and push, keeping optimal depth, timing the ascent to first stroke and holding my breath through all that without expiring. Either I’m too close to the wall or too far away. The spin is to late or too early. It’s hard to surface with a smooth first stroke. And sometimes the first breath is so long coming it breaks my rhythm completely.

It’s going to take quite a bit of practice.

From what I can tell the fast guys churn out 100m sprints at somewhere around 50 to 60 seconds, depending on how hard they’re pushing or what detail of their technique they’re working on.  If I can get my turn a little cleaner and get a little fitter, maybe I can hit a consistent pace half that, over 50m. Maybe. It’s a target to get me splashing about in a slightly more focused way perhaps.

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