Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The art of swimming

Front crawl has always been an art that has plagued my life. At the back of my mind, I had this nagging thought that I had never really mastered effortless swimming. I'm not naturally buoyant and probably used my African genes as an excuse. So I decided to follow the Fit School principles and overcome this through expert coaching and a road map to success. So I hired a swimming coach.

The question Ray asked me was where I wanted to go with this. I want to be able to swim a mile front crawl, pretty quick and not need CPR when I get out. I wanted to master effortless speed. I also watched a lot of swimming over the summer and it hit home how slow I was! My coach, Ray, straight away hit me with some information. In his opinion, black people not being able to swim is more soci-economic than genetic. The buoyancy of the American swimming team was tested they were no more or no less buoyant than the average person. So buoyancy isn't a prerequisite to becoming a better swimmer. He believes that there will be more black swimmers at future games and they will challenge and overtake their white colleagues. Just like everything I bang on about in my job. It comes down to technique. If you are less buoyant, you can't get away with poor technique.

I was down at Swim Canary Wharf where they have an endless pool with underwater cameras. The jets from the pool accentuate your poor technique and when you get it right, you feel the water stream beneath you. I have to say, that after one lesson, I was already feeling more streamline in the water and less like I needed an oxygen mask when I got out. Ray told me my drills and how often I needed to practice them. He was quite clear. Do this and get that.

I have to say that I fully trust my coach. Why? He is in control of the goal I have given him. A lot of people don't like being told what to do and the notion of a coach jars with them. People often say, "you should know it yourself..." or " what can they tell me that I don't know myself..." He's only doing what I am telling him to do except his is getting out of me what I can't do myself. He's also putting all the information into an order that makes sense to me. I have no doubt that I could Google all the drills he has given me, but they wouldn't make sense and I probably wouldn't do them properly. I really haven't got the time to waste doing things halfheartedly. The majority of athletes have coaches, it would be more uncommon to not have one. So if you want results, why would getting a coach seem strange?

So the take home lessons are you can't beat expert coaching. Technique is everything. You need a programme and a road map for success. Also a personal goal for me could be to see where this goes and try to get more adults and black people swimming. One thing that hasn't changed though. After swimming, I was absolutely STARVING!!

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