Week 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!
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!
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
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.