I am really struggling with trying to improve my leg action – trying to bring them out and round symmetrically instead of just flipping them. I have never felt less streamlined in the water, which can’t be right but, on the other hand, I do feel less likely to develop cramp (the last time I got double leg cramp my calves hurt for 3 days). Mentally I think the thing that will work is thinking of my legs as a dynamo propelling my otherwise straight and pointy body – it’s not like I feel like I’m using my arms that much anyway – at least it doesn’t feel like it.
Boyfriend (who used to be a pool attendant you know) made the following suggestion “Why not just accept that flip kick has worked well for you and carry on with it” which is sort of tempting…
For the last few days, I’ve been trying to absorb the comments I read about What Might Be Wrong with My Breast Stroke Technique and apply them in the water. I find it very hard, first because I’m very bad at translating mental things into physical ones (I panic when my singing teacher says ‘that was just right, how are you going to remember that for next time’) and secondly because I have very little means of telling if I am doing the right thing. And I can only concentrate on one thing at a time! Today I tried to think about pushing my thighs out and bringing my heels up to my bottom. Whether or not it was the right thing, I definitely noticed a difference – that I was working my legs harder than I had been and, in particular, that I was engaging my core muscles (and god, do they need engaging). I still think I might need lessons though.
I’ve been out of the pool since Wednesday with an incipient cold – the sort I used to ignore until last year when I realised that it will only come back again if I carry on swimming.
Meanwhile, Triathon Friend has watched the ‘swimming in the Lez’ video and given me the following bit of feedback:
” V impressive but if you want a technique tip it looks like you’re flipping your legs rather than bringing them out and round from the hip”.
which is more than possible because although I did attend the London Borough of Camden’s group swimming lessons for what seemed like a year (but was probably a few weeks) when I was about 10, I never learned breaststroke (on the other hand, I do remember learning back, butterfly, crawl and side and the only one I can even attempt of those is back).
TF sent me this guide to breast stroke from a series on swimming technique in the Guardian, which I will attempt to absorb and put into practice: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/jul/30/fitness
The series as a whole looks great, although I can’t help panicking at the thought that years’ worth of swimming has been valueless because of my poor technique!
Last February, I tramped through snow on my way to work and without a hope of it being open, stopped off at Usual Pool. I’d even had a shower at home thinking that I wouldn’t get a swim. It *was* open as it has been throughout this winter’s ‘extreme weather conditions’ (except when the pool was shut for other reasons, unconnected with the weather). That day, I got into work and every single one of my meetings was cancelled. I don’t believe that the staff and trainers at an NHS staff sports and social club live anywhere more accessible than those at my employer’s. I think they are just grafters and do a dashed good job. Hoorah! Unlike some of the other users I don’t complain about the state of the changing rooms (don’t leave rubbish behind if you don’t want it to be messy), or the showers (if you want to be somewhere where they are mopped every half hour, pay a commercial rate at a private gym) or the plumbing (it’s an eighty-year old public sector run building, give it a break). So there.
Here am I getting wet on December 30th. Air temperature about 10 degrees, water temperature somewhat colder.
I amused myself on Saturday and this morning by feeling shock that Usual Pool (an indoor one) temperature was 78 F (that’s about 25 C – metrication hasn’t reached Usual Pool yet) instead of its standard bath-like 82. It is strange how that really did feel cold although I’ve swum in water of 9 degrees and colder this winter. It was just right after about 4 lengths and it clearly put off other swimmers so I had the pool to myself both times.
Triathlon Friend, who will have none of this social networking nonsense, texted me the following, about pond water temperatures:
“The reason the ponds are warmer than the lido is because they have organic matter at the bottom decomposing and producing energy”
So now I know.
This page records the temperature of the water at Kenwood ponds and Gospel Oak lido. Once again, I note the lido tends to be colder than the ponds. This is especially surprising as the ladies’ pond is closest to the spring which formed the source of the river fleet and should therefore be particularly cold. Perhaps it’s the lido’s metal lining or perhaps it’s its size that makes it so cold. In August, it was certainly colder than Hickling Broad. I should add that the changing rooms are much warmer at the ponds (which if you have problems with heat loss like I do is a really good thing) plus there’s a temperate shower – at the lido there’s only really cold – still warmer than the lido – and chilblain-inducingly hot – which isn’t even remotely tempting if you’ve been in water below 10 degrees.
I don’t think I’ll make it in this weekend. Maybe wait until it’s a balmy 3.5 degrees…
Meanwhile, here is the serpentine lido on Tuesday.
I’m back at Usual Pool, which I had to myself yesterday evening, but my Triathlon Friend, currently breaking the ice at Tooting Bec Lido, sent me these pictures.
I’d really *like* to swim outside, honestly, it’s just as this is my first winter doing any outdoor swimming, I can only manage a few minutes and I need a half hour of exercise at the moment… Besides Usual Pool has a sauna.
I saw a poster for this at the Oasis the other day. You pay £26 per month for access to a range of pools in different boroughs. I’d definitely consider this if it included the pools in City, Islington and Westminster and a few lidos, even though my Usual Pool is an occupational one and unlikely ever to be included. I do like being able to use pools wherever I am. But at the moment it wouldn’t really work for me.
Usual Pool being closed and not being able to face the showers at the Oasis, I hefted myself off to the Seymour Place pool in London’s fashionable borough of Westminster. They do have nice changing rooms at Westminster pools (and you get your 20p back, even if it costs 50p more than Camden’s pools) and it wasn’t too full (the usual January hopefuls being put off by the temperature I presume). I quite like the pools too, out of a sense of nostalgia rather than pleasure – they’re too small and really are redolent of school swimming classes circa 1980, but that has its own pleasures. The changing room was freezing though – the recurrent problem of mixing wet and dry exercisers. Of course you don’t want a warm changing room if you’ve just made yourself beetroot on the rowing machine, but if you’re dripping wet from the pool it’s not a bad idea. Still, all part of the experience.
Seymour gets my politeness prize : the lanes are so narrow that it’s quite hard not to bump into people in the adjacent one. My breast stroke arms and a fast lane crawler’s legs made significant contact last night and the nice swimmer turned around and apologised. How nice!