I have always wanted to be a better swimmer. I can manage to splash about and get somewhere when I need to, but I never really took to the water. A few years ago, I got a weekly swim instructor. He definitely helped, but I still felt like I struggled with the water a lot. And it was exhausting. I could only do a few short laps at a time without stopping to wheeze. I didn't know how people could swim lap after lap without stopping. A friend told me that I should learn to relax in the water and not try to swim so fast. Whenever I tried, I would sink, get water up my nose, etc. I only knew how to sprint in the water. I developed a routine of doing two freestyle laps and then a breast stroke on the third, because the breast stroke felt free and natural with lots of time to breath.
I read Terry Laughlin's Total Immersion Swimming. While everything made sense, I just could not really apply the lessons to my swimming. First of all, you have to have someone that knows what they're doing help you get the right positions in the water. It's very much based on all sorts of body awareness that I just flat out don't have. Secondly, it's based on doing drills. And there are very few people that will sit down and do the drills required to really change your swimming. You need an instructor to force you to go through things systematically.
I saw that they offered workshops in Queens, but they emphasized bring a buddy since some of the class will be partner based. Somehow, I managed to talk Jeff into going with me. I was really excited about the workshop until I read someone's blog about attending the workshop in Queens. She said that both her and her husband took the workshop and were both triathletes. And most everyone in the workshop was a triathlete as well. Yikes! I am not a triathlete. I was intimidated to say the least. Plus, I had heard that they would be videotaping us in the water for review.
Anyway, Jeff and I went. The workshop started at 8am both days (Saturday and Sunday) and finished around 4pm. About the half the time was spent in the pool. Starting off was difficult - especially in the morning. The last thing you want to do at 8am is get into a cold pool. But once we got moving in the water there was a lot to concentrate on. And the constant movement warmed us up.
I could write pages about the things we learned in the workshop. The swimming technique really breaks everything down from the beginning. Some lessons came easier than others. There were a couple of times where I got quite frustrated with myself and the technique, but those moments were always followed an hour later with a big revelation and breakthrough.
In the end, I got the amount of strokes it took me to cross the pool from 24 to 17!
And though there were some triathletes in the class, it was not intimidating at all. Pretty much everyone was starting over learning the technique so it's not like there were some people that were perfect and some people were horrible. I didn't even mind the videotaping. On the final videotape review, I was actually looking forward to seeing how I did.
And most importantly, I now feel significantly more comfortable in the water. I have not yet made it back to the pool at the gym, though I have no anxiety about doing so. I have a list of things that I know I need to work on and look forward to doing so.