Recently, I have been getting together with a couple friends early Sunday morning to help them with their swimming. I am not an expert and they both know it. I'm good at analyzing stuff and problem solving. One is my friend Kevin Tran owner of Vinh Loi Tofu in Reseda and a 2013 Arizona Ironman who is basically just refining his technique. The other has asked not to be identified so I will call him Mr. Sinker.
That's Kevin in the picture with my enormous head.
My first impression was he had balance issues in the water and a weak kick. So to help him learn balance, I had him sit on a pull buoy and lean back in the water. This served to teach him core muscle adjustments needed to float on his back and to get him used to being in the water. Then I had him practice floating on his back without the buoy. Kicking if needed to stay up, but mostly using breath control to keep his head above water. I noticed that if water went over his face he would immediately stand up. So we do the "recovery" drill. Basically, if water splashed over his face while he's floating on his back, he was to force himself not to panic and remain floating.You never know what you can truly do until you are usually forced to do it.
He started doing standard kick drills with the kick board to build up his kicking endurance. I tell him to "Stop kicking with boots on!" to remind him to point his toes and relax his ankles and not kick from the knee down but use his whole leg.
The biggest obstacle has been the psychological one. He has not been in the water long enough yet to be comfortable. His homework is usually to do kick drills and float just so he spends as much time in the water as possible in a relaxed state. Sometimes, I have him swim back and forth in the deep end. Pushing off from the side explosively and looking at the bottom. This is helping to acclimatize him to that part of the pool which is also a source of stress. After doing it several times he often forgets about the deep water and can focus on his technique. If he is doing well mentally, I will have him swim to the bottom of the deep end and touch then surface. I'll do this until I notice his breathing pattern change and become shallower and faster. Each week he manages the panic better.
But he was still sinking during his freestyle. Even after his kick improved, his legs would drop as he crossed the pool. Finally today, I realized what it was that was causing his legs to drop. His fear of the water is strong enough that he is shy about pressing his chest and face down. It's not that he wouldn't put his face in the water, he does, but his chest would raise up. So I told him to swim consciously thinking about pressing his chest towards the bottom of the pool. Next thing you know, he's swimming with perfect horizontal position in the water. Legs no longer dragging, kick not too big and looking like he had been doing it the entire time. I was jumping up and down!
That was basically it for the days adventure. Struggled mentally today with food urges. Got better in the evening and The Boss made an incredible all raw plant based dish. So good! I know it looks like spaghetti and meatballs but it is 100% plant based.