Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Learning to Swim – as an Adult


I was terrified of the water as a kid.  I took lessons, trying to swim with one hand over my mouth, the other pinching my nose and holding my eyes shut.  At the lake I remember my mom standing on the dock, trying to bribe me off the swimming platform I was scared to jump off of.  How I got out there, I don’t remember!  So needless to say, I didn’t start out a water baby.

As an adult I’ve always been larger, so there was the swimsuit issue to contend with.   When I got married, my husband was always going to the pool, so somehow I started to tag along.  I realized once I took my glassese off, I couldn’t see anything but fuzzy people, so I decided that they couldn’t see me either—giving me a great sense of privacy, even in a swimsuit!

I also decided to only do the sidestroke and backstroke to keep my face out of the water.  I discovered a great work out that way, without all the fear.  In fact, the more inefficient I was, the better the work out!  Gradually I became quite comfortable in the water.  I became an efficient side-stroker.  I’d love to see side-stroking as a demonstration event at the Olympics!

But recently I noticed that I wasn’t getting a good a workout because of that efficiency.  I started to wonder if I could try the “crawl” again.  A notice at my pool offering a few lessons caught my attention, and I met with Beth who has me started into the new world of freestyle as an adult.  

Big tip: Get lessons.  Things have changed.  Beth teaches a lot of adults, and she uses a very careful method that breaks down the stroke into components so you can focus on just one thing at a time.  She also uses fins (and goggles, of course.)  You don’t need to flail in the water, but can focus on your body position and stay relaxed.  That’s the key:  Relaxation.  By breaking it down,  you have a beautiful stroke from day one. 
Beth wouldn’t let me put all the components together even by lesson three, but she had given me all the tools to work on it.  Even now, months later, I usually am cruising the pool doing some version of the freestyle stroke broken down.  I know I have plenty of time to put it all together.  One of these days I might even try a flip turn.  I’m enjoying learning to stay relaxed in the water, even when my face is in it!   You can too!  

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