Every Wednesday morning at 7am I join the Glasgow Triathlon Club’s swim session at the University of Strathclyde. I’ve been going along on and off for around six months and, this week, for the first time, our coach didn’t ask me to change my stroke or the position of my head or the way I kick my legs, instead I was asked to concentrate on turning around when you get to the end of a lap.
That’s right – I’m being coached on how to turn round!
The phase “like a tanker” was used.
Tanker should never be a word used with a swimmer unless you’re saying “hey, swimmer, watch out for that tanker!”
According to our coach you need to be pushing in and then pushing off and your head should act like a schythe through the water and not a brick.
All of which made no sense to me.
You swim to the end. You turn around. You come back. How can I get that wrong?!?
For the next hour every time I got the end I became nervous, not knowing whether my hand was right to push in an push off or if my head was as light as reinforced concrete.
On one lap, I even did a tumble turn. Not deliberately, I just sunk through indecision then tried frantically to right myself up while not drowning.
I know that swimming is all about technique but when that technique involves something you’ve never thought about before it’s very hard to change what you’ve always done. Thousands of laps of the pool have always seen me turn one way. Now, I’m being asked to think again. It’s not easy.
But it is good to be challenged even if, next week, I’m sure my next lesson will be how to climb into the pool using the ladder correctly.
Either that or, having mastered coming back, the coach will say “Now, let’s talk again about how you actually swim a lap correctly…”