The last time I had a swimming lesson was probably in the early 80’s. I can’t remember much of what they told me if I am honest. I think the S-shaped pull under the body might have been in vogue at the time.
A few weeks ago I went and had a grown-up lesson in Cambridge. I turned up as one of 10 students. I was the only channel aspirant there; the other 9 were all triathletes looking to improve their freestyle technique.
There was an hour or so of land based stuff talking about various aspects of the stroke to get right, best ways to stretch for maximum flexibility etc etc. Off we then went to the pool.
First off we were all filmed doing a couple of lengths, using above water and under water filming. Then Ed the coach took us through all of the areas he had talked about earlier, asking us to concentrate on each individual part, one at a time, over 100 m of swimming. After an hour or so of experimenting with various areas of stroke improvement, we all then did another 2 lengths filmed. It was surprisingly good fun!
We then went back to the classroom where we were talked through our first films one by one, to the whole group. It really was fascinating. My stroke didn’t look half as bad as I had feared it would. I have pretty big shoulders so my arms are a bit swingy, which might get a bit tiring after a dozen hours. I need to work on an easier and more relaxed recovery, with slightly more roll than I now have. My head is still too far forward so I need to work on that some more. The biggest thing was the pulling of the arms though. My arms are far too straight rather than early vertical and bent. My right arm also described a lovely S-shape, which might have been de rigeur in the 80’s, but is less in favour now!
I got sent a report and the DVD of the before and after swims after the event, and I am now spending some time working on the individual things that I was asked to look at, and gradually trying to bring them all together.
I would highly recommend this sort of analytical course. There were people on the course who were pretty shocked with what they saw on the tape. In particular one guy who had a huge crossover in his stroke, and never knew. On the whole for me, there were no horrible surprises, but lots of work to do to make my stroke more efficient, durable, and less likely to cause injury.