Seeking asylum in the hills & transcendence on the trails

Swim like a yacht…

Run, run, run, is that all I ever talk about? Sorry.

No, it isn’t. I’m currently “knocking my pan in” (as they say in Scotland) trying to improve my swimming technique / stroke. It’s safe to say (as many others do) that I find this thee most difficult tri-discipline. I generally toil in the pool 3 or 4 times a week hoping that everything I’m reading and trying to focus on will finally come together and I’ll be able to move through the water with some kind of efficiency and *cough* grace.

At times towards the end of a lap (see, I’m turning all U.S already) I’ve been so frustrated that I’ve deliberately continued head-first into the pool wall. Sadly I’ve never been able to generate enough speed to actually do any damage but you can sense the enormity of my frustration. Running and cycling I know I can always manage with hard work and at times pure grit alone. It just doesn’t work that way with swimming. I guess you can argue that it requires more ‘skill’. Certainly to swim at a competent level requires a better understanding of the required technique than the others. Therefore the focus of my pool-time is on ‘practice’ rather than ‘training’ (technique over fitness).

Over the past few months I’ve been reading a lot about Total Immersion swimming. A technique widely publicised by Terry Laughlin. In short, the thinking is that by making yourself as slippery as possible (i.e. reducing your resistance as you move through the water) you can significantly improve every aspect of your swimming. The analogy he uses of a tug-boat vs. a racing yacht, does help to visualise the thinking. Whilst the tug has an obvious amount of muscle, bulk and power, it sits on top of the water and is never capable of generating any great speed. The yacht on the other hand, has a razor-sharp hull that cuts through the water with ease. I’ll stop there, you can see where it’s going……(Amazon link)

So, I’ve been going through the TI practice drills and I almost fully understand where I need to get to. It just takes time and whole bucketful of perseverance. Recently I’ve had some decent breakthrough’s and have actually started to enjoy it. Granted the swim usually happens at the end of the day after a couple of runs and a weights session but I do feel like I am finally making progress despite the heavy schedule.

So, swimming. Despite the relatively short distances involved it’s my number 1, biggest challenge. I am hoping however that in another few months I’ll be writing again about how well it’s all going.

So for now,

Give me a 50mile run any day!

PS. How effortless is this swimming stroke? A M A Z I N G

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