It meaning my flip turns. Coach Brad pointed out I still wasn’t entering my turns properly, reminding me to commence the turn in conjunction with my final stroke at the wall and to make sure I tucked my head tightly. Now you might think this is all pretty elementary but I actually had to go through the motions a few times before I understood the whys behind the instruction. You see before now when I went to make a turn I’d take my final stroke, look up to make sure the wall hadn’t moved, then duck my head and with a convulsive heave throw my legs over. Actually given my age and flexibility the best I can do is get my legs to flop most way out of the water rather more to the side than overhead. Once around I’d line myself up with the wall again (quite literally) and then push off. Really it’s true. Aside from knowing I have incredibly bad turns for some reason this fact didn’t bother me over much until now – I think my mind was rationalizing the pause at the wall with the logic reversing directions must result in my forward velocity at some point dropping to zero. The difference in carrying momentum through the turn when I do a proper approach is quite profound. I’m actually moving away from the wall even before I push off so I’m accelerating much faster than before. Even better the shorter time spent making the actual turn means extra time and air for my submerged dolphin kick, something which if I ever learn to do properly will mean still better times. Try as I might I haven’t made much progress in correcting a bad habit of blowing half my air out to prevent water coming up my nose during mid-flip so the shorter duration means less of a ‘snort’. Of course running out of sufficient air to keep my sinuses clear still happens on a distressingly regular basis, but now at least it’s occurring over a meter farther down the pool. It’s progress, slow and painful, but progress. A couple of new difficulties have arisen from the changes though which I’ll have to work through. The first is my new rotation speed has meant I’ve a tendency to over rotate and pop up like a whale breaching the surface only a couple of meters away; and secondly no longer coasting into the turn has me initiating a fair number of them too early. Both problems, however, should be easily correctable given a little practice and time. I figure my turns may end up at a half to a full second faster, which translates into a serious improvement in my back and free times. Isn’t it wonderful how such small improvements in something completely irrelevant to one’s life can provide such a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction? Quite absurd really.
P.S. I’ve discovered coming out of the tumble too late is eminently preferable to doing the opposite and finding oneself still two meters deep when the air runs out! Luckily in my pool it’s easy at that depth to find the bottom to push off from, but embarrassing to be gasping for air whilst bobbing up and down in the water like a cork with the rest of the lane trying to avoid running over me.