It all started on international porridge day – have you head of such a thing?
It got me thinking about how complex and nuanced swimming can be, having to try to relax here, engage your muscles and push there to move through the water. I feel sometimes as coaches we can spend a term saying enter wider, then the following term saying not that wide and how tricky, confusing and quite possibly frustrating that can be for a swimmer:
- stretch and rotate more – but not that much
- enter your hands wider but not that wide
- enter deeper but not that deep.
- tilt your head down – but not that far
- increase your stroke rate – whooa not that fast
- you can possibly think of more!
We are sorry – not sorry! You see unlike goldilocks you aren’t going to get eaten by a bear if you try all variations on a theme however you will become a wiser, more informed swimmer.
You can benefit from trying each extreme of variation and these changes can be what you need to help you understand what ‘right’ can feel like. In an ideal world you will put numbers on the changes you make to help you see which is best for you. For example:
Swim 50m with your head looking to the bottom of the pool – time it and count your strokes then 50m looking slightly forward, again timing and counting and then 50m looking 3-4m in front. Trying where possible to swim with the same amount of effort, doing the same push off and turn to make the comparisons more accurate.
If you time yourself you can see if one way is quicker than the other. If the times for each are all the same time but you take fewer strokes on one swim you could infer that is the more efficient head position. After all you can exert the same amount of energy for varying levels of speed so going on how it felt may not be the best thing for you. Unless one way hurts in which case speed is irrelevant here. Always choose pain free!
Please don’t be afraid of trying to over emphasise a movement when you need to bring about a change. It can be what you need to help you find your sweet spot somewhere in between too much and too little.
Playing with a variation on a theme is a super powerful way to learn and those brave enough to try all three types of porridge can really surprise themselves.