Back To (Swim) School…

So training is going fairly well, and I’m loving long rides and increasingly fun 5km’s. But as I floated at the end of the pool one evening last week I let myself be frustrated with the progress I thought I wasn’t making. It was a rare moment of annoyance since I started training, because as everyone knows the quick progress when you first start doing this sort of thing is always the greatest you’ll ever see. For the first time I was frustrated. Crap.

I needed a swimming breakthrough. I needed some secret tips of the trade to make the illusive seem possible. I needed to go back to school.

At the perfect time, the Tri/Bike/Outdoor Adventure Show came along at just the time J & I were down in LDN for a visit, and so off we went on the Sunday to the ExCel to bask in glorious shiny gear and temptation.

Strolling past the Triathlon section, I was caught unawares and smooth talked into a masterclass by (oh the irony) Swim Smooth – it didn’t take much, I’m not gonna lie to you. I arrived feeling fairly nervous at the HUUB stand to get wetsuited up a few hours later and awaited my fate. It was a real mix of skills and individuals, with a purely pool swimmer, those training for a half Ironman, Olympic Distance and even a Father/Son team. It was a bit of a shock when the instructor introduced himself and I heard his voice boom out to the the surrounding people milling around – Oh God, I thought to myself, this is going to be a public lesson. FML, I think I’m in over my head here… <<< my general thought pattern.

First off they got us to swim a few laps of the pop-up pool and I just thought that was it, I was going to have to drop out and look like a total idiot and utter rookie; I’ve never swum in a full wetsuit like this before, never had to propel myself forward and properly front crawl so all that was going through my head as my arms ached under the wetsuit was, TRIATHLON WAS A TERRIBLE IDEA WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING UGGGHHHHH.

But it did get better. Honest. The ache wore off and my stroke felt smooth if a little strange swimming around a pool I kept bumping in to (must learn to sight…). We were then filmed and taken through tips to help us each improve. So, here it is my swimming debut on film click here to check it out.

Immediately they picked up on my very British thumb-first entry (a technique that is now apparently debunked and outdated!) and I felt rather old when the fact that the way I was taught to swim is now outdated! Eek! I was actually pleasantly surprised with how I looked on the GoPro footage – no crossing over of hands, my body was staying fairly level and my legs weren’t scissoring. I actually looked like I could swim!  It felt good to be around like-minded people, and to actualyl get some critique to see if I Was heading in the right direction. It was a boost I vitally needed, and I plan to do it again very soon to keep the learning process going.

Everyone I’ve ever spoke to about Triathlon has nodded knowingly when I claim swimming to be my weakest element, but they’ve also said “don’t worry! Everyone says that, but just wait…” and I’m starting to come around to this slow and steady method. Well, sort of. I am still getting quite frustrated with swimming BUT without this Swim Smooth masterclass I’m not sure I’d have the grit to be still swimming every week now.


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