April 20th, 2022A Swim Tip That Changed Me
On the first weekend this January, with Omicron raging and the skies pouring, I sat double-masked in the back of a conference room. It was the third and final day of the ASCA (American Swimming Coach’s Association) conference.
Everything was dark and gloomy, including my mood. The rain was endless, the hotel under construction and swathed in dripping plastic sheets. The conference room, where we sat for hours watching PowerPoint after PowerPoint, was particularly dismal. No one ever seemed to smile or even speak from beneath their masks. I felt lonely, depressed, and alienated.
THEN! In that last hour, the presenter, a coach at a prestigious university, said something that caused me to bolt upright. (I almost heard a “ding-ding-ding” in my head! ) As he rambled about things he tells athletes, he said:
“The nose should point down before the catch begins.”
He went on to say “Most swimmers I work with need to slow down their stroke to become aware of its four sequential parts:
- Hand in water
- Head back down (while exhaling)
- Catch. Swimmers should start the catch only when the head is in line.”
In other words, the nose should be parallel to the pool’s (or lake’s, or ocean’s) bottom before each catch begins. Doing this involves a VERY quick flip of the head.
I scribbled down this sequence, escaped into the rain, and tried these four steps in the hotel pool. I was shocked how challenging it was to complete the sequence while breathing on my left. It seemed natural to want to take a nice huge breath on that side, but trying to get my face down first precluded doing so.
Yes, I’ve been practicing ever since. What have I noticed?
- I’m not so flat in the water. I finally feel as if my body is rotating around a skewer.
- I’ve sped up.
- I feel sleeker and more coordinated. All the “parts” of swimming seem to fit together better.
- My timing and rhythm have improved.
Now I feel that the depressing conference experience was well-worth my money and participation. And all of this just from that one sentence: Get that nose facing straight down before each catch.
Everyone gets “Ah-hahs” for different things at different times, and maybe this revelation rocks only MY world. I hope it helps others as well! Happy Swimming to all, and let me know about your experiences.