Still Getting To Here….

The first half of 2012 was, like the curate’s egg, good in parts.  On one hand, there were lots of improvements in the pool, but on the other, there were a couple of injuries which were worrisome.  The first was almost certainly my own fault.  As I started to boost the distances in training to 4 km, my right shoulder started to give me quite a lot of pain.  Probably a combination of overworking a shoulder not accustomed to such long shifts, and poor technique.  I have always been rather asymmetric in front crawl, only breathing to the left, and with a flat and swingy right arm.  I have always had to be careful not to deal out a right hook to swimmers passing innocently in the other direction!

My doctor listened to the various clicks going on in my shoulder and told me to “have a rest”.  Very sound advice.  I did as I was told, and stayed out of the pool for a full week.  I also told myself that I was going to teach myself to breathe bilaterally.  Maybe this would iron out the asymmetry, while making me a better, faster, and more versatile swimmer?  The week of rest seemed to help, and was easy to achieve.  Bilateral breathinig on the other hand has provided much more of a challenge.

42 years I spent breathing to one side only.  Trying to learn to breathe on both sides makes you empathise with non-swimmers trying to learn how to swim while adults.  Beginners usually complain of being out of breath while swimming front crawl: the reason for this is that their method of breathing is inefficient and therefore not enough oxygen gets through.  The same applied to me.  I was only able to swim a couple of lengths bilaterally before getting totally winded and reverting back to breathing every two strokes.  I got there gradually though, adding more and more bilateral breathing into my training.  The real breakthrough came though when I stuck a pullbuoy between my legs, allowed myself to forget about ‘the back end’, and concentrate on breathing smoothly to both sides, and thinking about technique.  All of a sudden it clicked, and I was able to go km after km bilaterally.  I am still weaning myself off th pullbuoy though, as I know it is a bit of a cheat…..

The second injury came out of the blue.  While climbing the stairs at work, my back suddenly siezed up, accompanied by immense pain.  I ended up being taken to hospital in an ambulance that day.  A few days on the prescription panikillers though and things got a lot better.  Another week out of the pool and all was well.  A couple of weeks after that I was taking part in my first ever open water event, The Great East Swim in June 2012.

This was only the second time I had ever been in a wetsuit, and the first time I had ever swum with the human salmon run that takes place at the start of these things.  This, and the chop, and being totally lousy at sighting/navigating, meant that I only managed a time of 1 h 1 minute for the 2 miles, which was disappointing.  I would have preferred to have been under an hour.

Next time I will try and get down where I am now, what I would like to achieve in swimming, and how I would like to set about doing it.

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