Saturday, October 28, 2006

Stroke Camp

Today I attended stroke camp at the City Centre Aquatic Complex in Coquitlam, only about a twenty minute drive from home (so I guess that’s about fifty plus minutes in rush hour). Didn’t want to be late and so got there about half an hour early giving me plenty of time to study the place (as unfortunately there was no place for me to lie down and catch some sleep). A new “state-of-the-art” fifty meter pool it’s only slightly longer than fifty meters, just long enough to accommodate the width of two bulkheads, and of Olympic depth throughout. I’ve never before seen such a short fifty meter pool in a public facility. Rather than simply extending the length of the pool to achieve a shallow end the pool is designed to allow a bulkhead to be pulled out and the floor raised at one end to create the desired shallow water (a grill drops down to prevent anyone from swimming underneath the raised floor). It also has a separate wave pool with a beach entrance (sloping entry), a sauna and hot tub, and a gimmicky beach décor. I really liked the set up. Finally a few minutes before the scheduled start people started trickling in and I met up with Suzanne, one of the clinic’s coaches, who introduced herself and asked a couple of questions about my swimming background. Interestingly, when Suzanne heard I was in Brad’s Bonsor group she asked if Joe was still swimming with the club. After answering in the affirmative she told me she and Joe had been grade one schoolmates and played together in Nanaimo, BC before he moved away, only to meet once again when Joe joined the Club last year. So I’ll have to say hello to Joe from her. It really is a small world isn’t it? When the clinic started I was placed in Suzanne’s group and we started the freestyle drills which would continue for over an hour. I was initially a little disappointed – for some reason I had expected we would cover all four strokes in the clinic (always thinking of my deficient breaststroke and of course, my near non-existent fly). However, now that I’ve actually been through a clinic I understand why only the one stroke was taught. A good number of points Suzanne made had already been told me by Brad either directly or by general instruction to the whole team, but it was only the constant drilling which built on and reinforced earlier points which finally made the light go on. And it took pretty well the entire session for me to understand the basic concepts which were being taught. Personally speaking I take a lot of comfort that with over half-a-dozen techniques to correct and/or improve swimming faster is clearly in the cards for me (and just wait for my upcoming new improved body!). The coaches also provided a written, individually tailored stroke analysis and feedback at the end of the clinic for future reference, listing the priorities for each swimmer – and all for the token fee of $5, less than the price of pool admission. An embarrassingly good deal! So based on my own experience if you’re given the opportunity to attend a stroke clinic, regardless of whether you’re nationally ranked in your age group, or just a triathlete/masters participant, grab it! Your stroke efficiency and speed are virtually guaranteed to improve from improvements introduced in your first few clinics. Now Suzanne, can we arrange some clinics for the other three strokes? Fly perhaps?

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