Turn, turn, turn…

The all important side breathingWeek 4, just beyond the halfway point and thankfully the instructor made the decision to let us carry on with whatever stroke seemed to come more naturally to each of us.

For me it’s front rowing. I’d love to get the hang of the breastroke but I’m sure it’ll come in good time once I’ve got one stroke figured out and manage to get to a point where I won’t drown myself.

This was a challenging and exhausting one, not just because of my fear of how my recent injury would react to chlorine (thankfully ok).  Like another piece of the puzzle emerging from the pile it started to click into place. Breathing was where I failed last time I tried to learn how to swim. I never got the hang of it and it in itself is the most important part of the thing.

I was told to “glide”on my side, arm outstretched, ear in the water and kicking like crazy to keep buoyant. This turning on my side and getting the notion of “gliding” into my head was the key piece of the puzzle. Not the most pleasant of things as it left me with some kind of an airlock/water stuck in my ear which was sore for a few days but definitely not as bad as the scraped arms!

I was then able to swim a couple of lengths in comfort with rhythmic breathing and feeling a lot more confident in the water. I was swimming!

Being away this weekend means no practice has been done which makes me a little worried so I’m throwing myself in for an hour tonight to try and cement what I learned.

Week 4 verdict: things are looking good, more practice needed to get my body position corrected & damn is this guy a good teacher!

Beware of the pool noodles

Pool noodles - looking all fun and innocent

Lesson #3 and focus turned towards the breaststroke. Once upon a time I tried to learn this but couldn’t for the life of me get the hang of the frog-like leg kick.

And things weren’t hugely different this time around. The arm stroke wasn’t too bad and a far less tiring alternative to front rowing but once I try to combine the two it was a total disaster and I just sank.

So off I popped on Sunday to practice. All was going a bit meh until the pool emptied and I decided to take advantage and stay at it for another half hour. Some progress was made but all with the aid of what I now know is a “pool noodle“.

After an hour of effort I hit the shower with my trusty mint shower gel – one of the few things that kills the stink of chlorine. I almost screamed when I felt my armpits burning up. On inspection I discovered lovely big swollen red patches of skin along the underside of my arms, some of it broken where the noodle had been positioned to stop me sinking.

I had to bandage up before bed as I couldn’t bare it rubbing off bed clothes or PJs. It feels marginally better today but I’m afraid I might be able to take part in this weeks lesson as a result. Rats.

Week 3 verdict: crunch time is fast approaching, still hopeful but BEWARE OF THE NOODLES!

Look, mummy – no float!

Some rights reserved by terren in Virginia

Lesson number 2 came around very quickly. So quickly I barely got my bit of practice in 2 nights previously which turned out to be invaluable despite how stupid I felt splashing and coughing by myself much to the amusement of the (what I’ll for now politely call) “onlookers”.

To rob a soundbite from the fabulous This Is Pop Baby‘s production Alice in Funderland, “there’s no cliché without fire” and yes it seems that practice makes perfect. Or at least helps you on your way in this case.

I’m shocked that little over 2 hours into the 6 hours of beginners lessons the floats have been abandoned and my fear of water has subsided significantly. It helps that there’s a lack of a deep end too :)

I’m now at the stage I was when I last tried to learn about 15 years ago. I never got the hang of turning to breath but I’m hoping it’s down to the lack of opportunity to practice. Some people have laughed at me when I say I can’t swim having grown up on the west coast but I challenge any of them to even go knee deep without going blue all over.

It’s a fascinating learning experience. I’ve realised that most of it is a psychological battle rather than a physical one. Like if you’re exhausted after only one length it’s not purely because you’re unfit, it’s because you’re going too fast rushing to the other end to get up to breathe. And a bit of water in your mouth, nose and ears is fine – you’re not going to drown!

Fingers crossed we all get through another week as optimistic and with as much enthusiasm to nail it!

Week 2 verdict: practice makes practice makes practice makes it better :)

Floating…just about

Photograph of 2 dolphins underwater

By Arnaud 25 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Last evening I began the challenge of learning how to swim.

This is attempt #2 for me, attempt #1 of my adult life.

In short, it was a success – I didn’t freak out, didn’t panic and most importantly didn’t drown. In fact, I quite enjoyed it. I think it was a combination of the small class size, not facing it alone and my brain’s love of learning new skills that I might actually be able to master.

My fellow fish-in-training described me as a dolphin but I’m afraid myself and Fungi are still world’s apart! I’ve almost got to grips with the “dead man’s float” and faced with the challenge of learning how to breathe in the water (my downfall on attempt #1).

Week 1 verdict: it won’t be easy but I’m optimistic and relishing the challenge ahead.

Online PR Workshop with Mulley Communications

On Saturday I attended the Online PR Workshop organised and provided gratis by Mulley Communications and presented Mr. Mulley himself :)

The course outline:

  1. Basics of Online Comms
  2. Developing a Communications Bible
  3. Developing a Comms Philosophy
  4. Working with: Blogs, Forums, Twitter etc.
  5. Finding Tools – Who is talking about you online?
  6. Crisis Communications

My background

As someone who makes websites for a living and spends quite a lot of her spare time online, I would consider myself fairly ‘online savvy’ already. PR, marketing and advertising are all subjects I have an interest in both from a creative and an online point of view but what knowledge or skill I think I have is purely based on readings picked up along the way. In other words, I have zero training and it has been up until recently a casual interest.

So why was I there?

Firstly, I wanted to learn. I’m becoming increasingly interested in the growth, power and influence of online PR and I wanted to see if what I have picked up along the way was right or wrong and (naturally) to learn new things. Even if I never apply such knowledge in a formal client situation through my work I think it’s knowledge you can apply to yourself as an individual with your own online presence.

Secondly (and quite bluntly), I wanted to see Damien at work so I know who I can recommend him to if and when the situation presents itself.

And last but not least, it was free. Let’s be honest, we all love a freebie especially when it’s a good one like this.

What did I think of the workshop?

As an outline online PR workshop I thought it was very good. If you have a client or if you yourself are not convinced that you need to worry about online PR then this will flip that opinion on its head and rightly so. A wide range of platforms and useful tools were covered in the presentation and some key points were communicated well through case studies. The unfortunate yet timely blip in Boards.ie last week made for a great example of crisis management, an area that online PR has huge importance whether the crisis itself is an online or an offline matter.

A lot of what was covered is up on the Mulley Comms blog and a post on building a Business Communications Bible worth casting your eye over is here.

Would I attend another Mulley Communications course/workshop?

Yes.

Would I be happy to pay for it?

Yes.

Would I hire Mulley Comms to take care of my online PR?

Yes.

Cheers Damien for an interesting day and props for getting us out of bed and somewhat alert on a Saturday morning.