My first competition done. The Weekend swimming in the bag. I look at the diary and count the weeks left. Four.
While having a couple of beers on Sunday night, I reflect on the race….in the bustle of swimming amongst many other athletes in very tight formation, at times, I put form and technique on the shelf, and picked up survival and racing strategy. But there were moments during the race that I was ahead of our group for several hundred meters with my survival suit still on, whereas what was needed was the streamline and efficient technique clothing. There were moments this efficient swimming would kick in, but would be lost at the next buoy or next distraction. My conclusion on this was that I have yet to isolate what I do wrong (or right) and that’s where the drawing board comes in.
Back to the drawing board
Out of all the technique drills that we do, undoubtedly, my most favourite and difficult one is the Unco – It stands for Uncoordinated.
It’s a one arm drill, with one arm by the side whilst performing a full stroke with the other arm. It is a bit like patting your head while rubbing your belly. It is packed with all the techniques and a sure way of quenching any lingering thirst you may have! As Paul Newsome (Swim Smooth founder and coach) says “The key point is that the rotation within the drill is critical. Get it right and your stroking arm will recover easily over the top of the water. However, stay flat on that dead side and the arm recovery will be very tough!”
As I drained the last drops of Sunday evening beer, I planned an early start to Monday morning.
6:30 am Unco session in the Cheltenham’s 50m lido. Back and forth, following the Unco training session….15 mins left and BOOM! It suddenly all fell into place. Left arm by my side, right arm doing the hard work and breathing to my left felt very smooth. Different challenge breathing on the right, mind, But that moment of clarity stuck with me for the rest of the week!
Longest swim yet and Beethoven’s 8th
Nicola the Torpedo is back. Tanned and relaxed from holiday for a week. Gulp! My first thoughts at 5:50am this morning (Saturday) as I get all my kit rid for 6:00 am start.
3 laps, roughly 5+K, non-stop. Then a feeding break, and back in for another 2 laps non-stop 3+K. In the water for 2 hours 42 mins. There were moments where boredom would set in, that I must admit. But I found 2 things.
Firstly, I incorporated the feeling of Unco into the swim and really felt the stretch through the stroke cycle, feeling the fast, smooth, and effortless movement against the greenery down below.
Secondly, and this is rather weird; the beeping of the tempo trainer under my cap at 64 strokes per minute, matches the same tempo as Beethoven’s 8th Symphony’s opening movement! For those of you who are not familiar with this piece, it is a wild, hard, definitive, fast and thumping music.
I reckon there may have been swimmers nearby thinking what the heck is that guy in the pink cap doing singing to himself!
And after 2 ¾ hours the session ended at 8.8K at a decent pace of 1m:50s per 100m, which as it happens is on course for my target time for the 14K swim in 4 weeks’ time.
Fundraising for Alzheimer’s Society
I am training for the Henley-on-Thames 14K swim marathon and the Dart 10K this year, while attempting to raise £5,000 for Alzheimer’s Society. You can donate toward this amazing charity via JustGiving: justgiving.com/keyvan-shirnia
I am grateful for all your support and thanks very much for reading.