Breaststroke - Why is it so Easy?

Posted on: 17 May 2019

Tuesday 30th April – Breaststroke - Why is it so Easy?

Easter celebrations and feasting over and the schools open again which meant the swimming pool is open and actions stations this end.

Today I really didn’t feel like going and was trying to think of an excuse to go. No matter what I thought up, it didn’t come anywhere near to qualifying cancelling the session. Having got stung by a bee over the weekend and a swollen right arm, as a result, was the main justification in my head. Strangely enough training with this disability was seen as another challenge and ironically I would have more than likely cancelled without the pain. Why do some people purposely force themselves to go through pain barriers? Another escape route from the session was from my partner Galia who had a job interview at 10:30 this morning. Again, probably better going and focussing on something else rather than waiting for the result nervously, - she agreed! Besides I would just be a hindrance not help with my lingering, constant reassuring and thumb twiddling.

09:44 in the car park ticket machine and into the pool complex walking through the playground trying to avoid ball that was being kicked and throw from sporting students out in the warm spring Bulgarian sunshine.

I had not planned today other than just to try and enjoy the session, something that was sadly missing with attempts to consolidate the freestyle stroke. There must have been some form of drive within me as I forgot to do the warm-up stretching exercises prior to entering the pool – not the first time!

Well, I was in the water and to be quite honest the water was very soothing for my bee stung swollen right arm. How fortunate this was as it was a great remedy for the pain with me originally thinking this was a burden I had to carry into the session with me.

Breaststroke began and it was 09:55. Nice and easy strokes and shallow breathing every two strokes it felt good. It is so obvious that the pace was slow looking at the movement made by seeing the line at the bottom of the pool lane pass under me. This used to be a big concern with the lack of pace and progress being made, but the effort made to get the slow drift is minimal.

After 8 lengths I lost count and just carried on. It was so comfortable I could have fallen asleep during this drill. In fact, there were a few occasions where my eyes closed just to relieve the boredom and play with swimming directions.

The breaststroke just kept going on and on as I was in my comfort zone and actually enjoying it. The further it went on the bigger the thoughts became of neglecting the freestyle today. This made me feel a little guilty. I knew I wouldn’t enjoy any other stroke so plowed on for what seemed a rather selfish stance.

The turns after each length cause me to stop turn and start up again. To me pushing off the wall to start each length is cheating some distance so I purposely start with a standing stance and move off without any leg actions just arms.

Knowing there will be times where the swim will have to pause, either for emptying water that has entered goggles, water up the nose or sneezing.  I had to sneeze today and I turn onto my back, sneezed rolled over and continued. This was very rewarding being able to do this plus the fact that is would be even easier in a wetsuit and safety float. Reassuring in one word.

As time elapsed the pool had more visitors including children who now wanted to share my lane. I had no idea how long I had been swimming non-stop. My strokes take up the whole of the lane and often my hand hits the wall or the two water filters as I pass them. With sharing a lane with others it would become quite obstructive so I decided to stop.

A look at the clock which I could just make out with my goggles up, it was 10:45. I had been swimming non-stop for 50 minutes. This was a surprise as I was not fatigued, tired or out of breath throughout the swim. Working the mileage out I had in fact done around 850 metres. 3200 required in the Serpentine event was now something I felt I could have managed today albeit pool metres no open water metres.

I finished off with three lengths of freestyle just to remind myself how uncomfortable it is.

Now here is the dilemma. Do I work on duration in breaststroke or persevere with freestyle? Freestyle in my mind is the challenge, so my mind is made up. Breaststroke for me it too easy and doesn’t set up any real demands physically. In the back of my mind, of course, is the knowledge that I am capable of completing the 2-mile swim with breaststroke if needed.

So glad I went swimming today and my bee stung right arm is now feeling much better from an hour in the cool waters.

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