Monday, 16 January 2012

2012 swims in.

Well it's January again and new year, new plans (though they haven't changed drastically).

I have entered three swimming events so far which I am VERY excited about at this stage:

Great North Swim - 1 mile - Windermere

Great Manchester Swim - 1 mile - Salford Quays

The Monster Swim - 1 mile - Loch Ness

I am hugely excited about swimming in the Monster Swim as I first read about this in the Spring/Summer of 2011, but it simply wasn't possible for me to enter last year. Have been waiting for them to open entry and announce 2012's events and it finally happened last week. I am also really pleased that I have four friends (and possibly a few more TBC) who have also entered and who I will be swimming with. The only downside is that my husband won't be able to swim alongside me; we will be staying at Loch Ness for a few days with our four children and he will be looking after them while I swim. At least I will have a good support squad on the shores, just hoping they shout loud enough to keep Nessie away!

I am really pleased to have a few more friends who have caught the outdoor swimming bug this year, it's going to be a great year for swimming!

In September I blogged about Total Immersion and their interpretation of swimming, through a slightly different approach to strokes and technique. Since then, I came across the Shaw Method, which is another company, run by Steven Shaw who offer a similar, though slightly different approach. The Shaw Method is based on the Alexander Technique which I have never practised, but I can empathise with from my Pilates background. It is much more accessible for me as the courses, books and DVDs cost less, and they are based in the UK (Total Immersion is from the USA), which makes it all the better!

I have bought Steven Shaw's book, 'The Art of Swimming' and then the DVD 'Learn to Crawl Again'. Both of these have helped me improve my stroke no end and I am hoping to attend a workshop about front crawl, in April.

I returned to the pool after a 5-6 week break, last night and I concentrated on my stroke and time in the water, rather than the number of lengths completed. I read recently that you need to swim for 20 minutes to feel any cardio-vasucular benefit, so I aimed for 20 minutes in the pool as a starting point for 2012's training. I swam breaststroke, concentrating on my glide and long pull, ensuring that my head was leading and eyes were down at the bottom of the pool. It felt nice to have a relaxing swim and I naturally felt myself warm up (about 10 lengths), and feel strong/peak/pull hard about 10 lengths later. I finished with four lengths of crawl, which I am struggling to adapt to the Shaw Method. The hardest thing is to let your arms to the work and relax the feet and slow the kick right down. There are lots of little things I need to do to adapt my stroke and I am concentrating on the feet at the moment, plus losing the windmill-style arms. In Shaw Method, you rotate the hips with each stroke and keep the leading arm out in front of you until the moving arm is coming back over your head and re-entering the water. So for my last four lengths, I crawled, but slowed it right down.

Things are improving though. Another swimmer stopped me in the pool and commented on what a graceful swimmer I am and how she hadn't seen anyone swim with such a gracefu stroke before, like I was just gliding through the water. So, nice positive feedback from the pool. I often think it would be nice to get someone to video me swimming (something which happens when you attend a Shaw course) so I could see where I could improve on my stroke.

And Swimathon 2012 is back in April, which is an indoor event where you can choose to swim various distances for charity. I haven't yet entered, but I intend to enter the 2.5km swim, which I believe is 100 lengths of a 25m pool.

I am still cycling too. I don't usually go out at all over winter, but the weather has been mild and I have been getting out on my road bike a few times recently and doing around 15 miles. I had intended on going out yesterday but as the temperature reached 0c at its peak, I decided to pass as I don't have a very reliable range on sub-zero cycling gear and didn't fancy getting numb toes.