Easy Swimming


An interesting article on NPR talks about the difference between the perceptions of experts and novices when they do something like playing the piano or basketball.  Novices focus much more on the mechanics of an action, and experts focus on the whole picture, the piece or game to be played.  NPR, May 12, 2017, 7:39 AM.

I’ve run into this in swimming.  Beginners in the sport, defined as someone with less than ten years’ swimming experience, seem to focus on hand position, body level, even how far the head turns to take a breath, among many other facets of swimming easily.  As a coach I have been guilty myself in instructing other swimmers in small incremental changes in strokes, rather than the idea of “make it easy.”

The problem is that swimming “easy” is hard.  There are basics: body position in the water; flexibility of hands and feet; the position of hands and arms in the pull stroke; breathing ease.  The hard part is putting all of these together at the same time, while going length after length.

One solution to problems with swimming “easy” is time.  Have you put in ten years in the pool yet?  I’ve been swimming competitively for 64 years, so I guess I have some experience in this, but the years have allowed me to relax in the water without worrying about the basics and simply to keep going.  Most Masters swimmers I know with a competitive background swim the same way.

Take your time, and do the time in the pool.  There is no substitute for time in the water.  The goal is not to be fussy about the entry angle of the hand into the water, or if the hand goes past the suit line on the push.  The goal is to finish the race or workout as easily as possible, but fast, and do it again and again every time you are in a pool.

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