Author: Tracey Baumann; Editor: Phil Stocker
It seems that finally, possibly, we have, perhaps, come to a turning point in this extraordinary year.
Which Part To Concentrate On?
But as pools and public spaces begin to re-open, albeit under new rules and regulations it seems we can finally begin to look to the future again and begin to make tentative plans for the continuation of our swimming journey. And one question I have been asked is what is the most important part of the stroke to concentrate on after such a long break?
Of course, there is no one answer to that. People swim for many different reasons. Some swim to exercise, of course, but some do so to clear their minds or alternatively to keep their minds busy! Others enjoy the healing nature of being in water and the camaraderie they feel in the swimming community as a whole.
For competitive swimmers, the COVID crisis has often resulted in their plans for the 2020 season being cancelled completely or pushed back to 2021. Whilst a few still have their swims this season they have not been able to do their normal swim training practice to prepare. The psychological repercussions of all of the above must be acknowledged and not be taken lightly.
Locked Down But Not Idle
During the lockdown, I have been in touch with all of my clients and swimming friends and have been blown away by the support everyone has been giving and receiving. I have been intrigued to watch the determination and ingenuity shown to continue swimming, this being via pop-up swimming pools, the use of static tethered lines or even dry land exercises balanced on dustbins!
Here at SwimMastery, we have done our best to continue to grow as coaches and swimmers during this period. We have held many coach-training online classes, continual development webinars and some live lessons online sometimes with the coach and pupil several hundreds of miles apart! As a group of coaches, we have managed to submerge ourselves in the world of swimming and coaching and I would say each and every SwimMastery coach is coming out of this lockdown with a much greater understanding of the freestyle stroke and how to teach it. As the bodies of water have slowly opened again it has been very exciting to hear the stories they have to share about practising their new skills with their clients and friends. I look forward to this continuing as more and more coaches are able to begin coaching again.
And it has been amazing to watch, as the lockdown rules have slowly been lifting here in the UK, the excitement that the removal of this barrier has brought generally. It has been quite overwhelming to witness. It has brought me a renewed sense of joy that I feel about swimming and swim coaching. It is the age-old saying, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. This has been true for so many people, particularly with swimming, who have had no available body of water to use.
So, as we all begin to swim again if I had to pick just one area relevant to all swimmers I think it would be the connection between the legs and the torso. Imagine that your legs are actually part of your torso. I can see some question marks on your faces as you read that statement so I will explain further. It is literally impossible to swim freestyle efficiently using the correct sling systems in the body without using the legs. Equally, it is just as impossible to use those sling systems without the legs being connected to the rest of the body.
As a swim coach, I often see both errors in new swimmers coming for their first lessons and in more experienced swimmers coming for stroke tune-up sessions. I either see the legs trying to do nothing because often the swimmer has been told that they don’t need to use them or the opposite whereby the legs are kicking frantically but are completely unconnected. So a great way to start changing either one of these challenges above is to swim as if your torso starts at your shoulders and finishes at your feet. People are often surprised by how different they feel with this simple visualisation.
Over the coming months, we at SwimMastery will be reaching out with our top tips and ideas for getting back into the water and beginning your stroke practising sessions again. We will cover stroke-specific topics and topics on how to practice. Meanwhile, stay safe, be sensible, observe the new rules but, most of all, enjoy your swimming again!