After a recent post about my fly troubles a reader made several suggestions as to what my problems might be and offered some solutions on how to correct them. Alas for me such guesswork when it concerns my fly is like shooting fish in a barrel, so many of his suggestions had merit. As a result I’ve made some changes in my training to include a few of his recommendations which weren’t already being implemented. I’m always happy to receive well-meaning advice from anyone on how to improve my swimming. He ended his commentary with the phrase “Polish every meter, don’t practice crap”; an apt, admirably terse phrase making an excellent statement about the right way to go in competitive swimming. At least I believe it’s the right way because it’s the way I think too. Not for me to just swim up and down the pool and trust improved conditioning will make me swim faster. Better technique and a training plan is definitely the way to go. So I’m adopting his phrase as my unofficial training motto (just don’t tell my mom).
In this spirit I’m throwing caution to the winds and tackling my last remaining major stroke defect aside from my kick – my pull. A good part of my problem is a lack of arm strength so I decided very early on to break down my pull into its technical aspects, planning to only address them one by one until my overall strength caught up. Up to now I’ve limited myself to improving my reach and mostly ignored the catch and finish but no longer. I’ve begun to use hand paddles to rework my complete pull as one integrated motion. To encourage a proper stroke Coach Brad recommended I use my paddles without wrist straps and to rely only on the finger cord to hold them on. Thus configured the paddles force a proper catch and the lack of a wrist strap means retracting my hand too early and not finishing properly will see the paddle stripped from the offending hand; something which happened with some regularity in the beginning. I tire very quickly when using them, however, and because of my poor technique (and large paddles) my shoulders have become rather sore. In the future I’ll limit my paddle training to a few hundred meters with the following day off, but the exercise has made an immediate impact on my stroke effectiveness. The trick is to get the stroke to a point where it becomes natural. How long that will be I don’t know but I’m sort of hoping it will happen before I leave for Texas.
A Canadian beaver kit with fins already on waiting patiently for his paddles to be attached