Wed 13th March – Best Session To Date
Leading up to today I had a bad night with the flu still lingering and coughing session. By the time the alarm went off at 7:00 it felt like I hadn’t got any sleep so it was a quick breakfast and back to bed for an hour rather than practice the piano which is the normal routine. By Jove I needed that extra hour!
Leading up to today there was a lot of looking up online tutorials on breathing technique drills. There are many variation on a theme with so many experts out there trying their darned best to inspire beginners and they make it look so easy. So, many drills for breathing were now implanted into my head for today’s session with me fully aware that the focus has to be just on one or two of them to start off with.
It is quite amazing how many swimming goggles are out there for sale. The mind boggles at the choice and even looking up reviews to find the best suited it is a massive headache. A pair that will give more confidence and one less worry was the objective, but at a low budget. Being fully aware that many reviews are geared towards marketing and selling more and the reviews from buyer can and often is bought online to publish, it was a very sceptical view of most.
There are outlets here in Bulgaria that have stocks of many swimming goggles, but at greatly inflated prices. I understand completely that buying a pair of goggles for £10 in the UK, there is a postage fee that doubles that price (£20). The same set of goggles online here retail at the same price as the UK source inclusive of postage, i.e. £20. This does annoy me, as the postage for bulk goods is substantially cheaper than individual items, but they have us over a barrel on this. The advantage buying online in Bulgaria that firstly, the goods arrive within two days and there is less risk of them getting lost or damaged. Secondly, if they are faulty it wouldn’t cost and arm and a leg to return them to the supplier for a refund or another pair. With this a pair of goggles were ordered online with a company called Emag and my partner Galia added some cosmetics which they also sell to bring the price over the 50 BG Lev and gain free postage. The goggles are Arena Zoom X-Fit in green and black and cost 32 BG Lev, (around £14). They arrive on Thursday in time for my Friday training session, so this is going to be an exciting moment trying them out. Especially so having suffered with the original pair I bought which alongside running repairs and adjustments, was like a torture chamber and a relief to take them off. Should enhance the focus on swimming with this new pair, but who knows until they are tried out?
Old goggles packed for today’s session with only one other elderly swimmer in the pool when I arrived, not the English speaking Kolo who I encounter on Monday and Friday sessions. The attention today was all about being calm and relaxed and not rushing anything, which is a lifetime habit I still pursue. This included preparing the kit before leaving home, the walk to the pool and getting changed ready to swim. All was going to plan and I felt quite calm as I showered before dipping in to the warm pool. There is always that little apprehension knowing there will be times when a panic will happen it is just a case of getting them to be less frequent.
Bobbing is always first in line as a drill as the up and downs inhaling and exhaling respectively getting faster as I felt more comfortable then speeding it up as suggested by swimming gurus. Not quite to the stage of not having to think about it, but definitely into the rhythm of the sequence that is required before going onto the next step. The point here is that there is no panic doing this and a good foreplay to the next stage of warm up.
Lengths of breaststroke seems to be the routine now to warm up the swimming muscles and if anxiety not too high do it with head under water each two strokes. It was quite obvious that there was the same rhythm of breathing here as in the bobbing earlier. Trying not to rush the strokes there were 8 lengths of 17 metres achieved with a slight pause to turn each end. 136 metres later and I was not exhausted, just a little out of breath and heart rate up slightly. There were only two instances of hints of panic both towards the end of a length when there is a tendency to rush in that last couple of metres and the regular calm slow rhythm is distorted.
Warmed up and a little chuffed with the distance covered which was more than the 100 metres in the last session it was now the turn of freestyle. Slightly nervous on how these freestyle breathing drills were going to go as I knew this was going to be the greatest risk of intake of water, panicking and stopping. The last session saw progress so why not more today.
Before I started I did some more bobbing drills as this does calm me down when into a controlled rhythm. Then all was clam for the drill holding on to the side of the pool wall with both hands putting my head under the water breathing out of my nose and dong a stroke with the left arm only coming up for breath on the left each cycle. Each time I tried to get my head to come less out of the water as I turned to the extent of only half a head raised above the water line. Didn’t quite manage that but was getting closer. There was also another t pick up from experts which I wanted to try today. This was about blowing out of your nose and mouth just as you head turns out of the water beyond not just underwater. This is meant to clear you mouth and nose from water before the intake of breath and seemed to make sense to me as I felt that when the panics happen there is already water in my nose when my head turns for breath and that is inhaled. Low behold, I tried this for a few minutes and it seems to give daylight to breathing in with no water lurking in mouth or the nostrils. The thought was not to take this onto the next stage with the float.
Left arm strokes only with a slight body turn to give room for the head to turn and breathe on the left. This was just like the drill on the side of the pool but this time with float held in front and moving forward. It was a very happy Martin who now felt quite confident doing this drill. There were a few moment when I felt a panic coming on, again almost exclusively coming towards the end of the length and seeing the finish line prompting a burst of rushing and the rhythm disappearing. This was exactly the same symptoms as in the breaststroke earlier.
I still feel I need more time on this particular drill just to get it automated and not having to force my concentration on it and also to finish length with the same calm rhythm. It is encouraging now to complete most lengths and no be exhausted, but just a little short of breath. (Probably from the spurt at the end of lengths.)
There was an attempt at the next stage doing the same drill with only the left arm, but without a float with the right arm extended out as if the float was there. I didn’t feel comfortable with this at all as I felt my head was lower in the water and had to use more energy to get my breath albeit there was room for breathing. It just felt very uncomfortable and put my nerves in a vulnerable position. I gave up after one length as I knew I wasn’t’ ready for this stage yet.
Finishing off with a couple of lengths of breaststroke and out of the pool after 45 minutes knowing that this session was the best to date even though I left on a low note of the last drill. There is a much more confident person now knowing that each time there is progress being made although very slow.
It may take one or two months to get into a conventional freestyle stroke without having to think too much about breathing technique and then the fitness and distance and be tackled – That right now is a long way away. With new goggles on Friday to look forward to I feel the worst is over in terms of doubts of being able to attempt the 2 mile swim in September. 136 metres done ‘non-stop’ today only 3,064 to go.
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