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Travails of a Non-Swimmer

February 2013 Wrap-up: The Wonders of Total Immersion Swimming

Heart in the water

In January I joined a group swimming class teaching swimming the traditional way (lots of drills via kickboard). After 8 sessions I still couldn’t breathe during crawl or cover a 25m.

It was the frustration of having the top of my head grabbed by the instructor and twisted to the right to force me to breathe each time, that led me to find a better, less brute-force, yet more effective way to learn to swim.

Total Immersion Swimming made all the difference.

The Crawl

I did my first TI drills on February 1. Two weeks of doing the breathing drills in the Total Immersion Swimming: Perpetual Motion Freestyle in Ten Lessons DVD and 02 in H20 – A Self Help Course on Breathing in Swimming – A Total Immersion Instructional DVD, as well as watching Shinji videos on YouTube, I was able to finally teach myself how to breathe. Three days later, I swam non-stop across a 25m pool for the very first time. A bit later, I discovered how not to strain my arms during catch and still have propulsion. By the end of February, I could do workouts of 4 x 25m each night.

There are still many issues. I do full bilateral breathing but have a weak side, causing a dropping lead arm. I am trying do mindful practice but still distracted by the going-ons of the busy gym pools. While I can do 4 x 25m, I still need to rest in between repeats.

When the practice lanes are crowded I find it difficult to do the drills. I still have a month to go with my injury-inducing group swimming class. Unfortunately, the promising new individual lessons instructor I found at the city pool also resorted to kickboard drills after two sessions, so I left.

I need to find a TI coach somehow. The closest available is half-an-hour away by train but I’d have to join a gym and pay monthly dues just to be able to take a separately-billed group lesson. The other option is to travel to Tokyo for the TI Swim Salon. I’m saving up for this, but will need to convince my husband that it’s worth the money.

The Backstroke

The Breaststroke for Every Body by Total Immersion Swimming arrived in early February. I did the drills, and in just over a week I could do 100m to 200m easily and comfortably. I feel that I could swim this stroke forever!

I love the backstroke. There are two issues right now: one is that I still swim very slowly. I enjoy it much more when I am swimming slowly than when I’m trying to go as fast as I can. The other issue is that I’m unable to swim straight: once too often I’d find myself against the side wall or the lane divider. I think it’s the imbalance in my catch and kick (I tend to have better form on the left side). I’d really love to swim fast and straight, things I need to work on next month.

The Breaststroke

My husband and I watched the DVD together, and I tried the kicking drills. Felt rather strange! Will need some time to get used to this way of swimming.

General Fitness

I’ve been faithfully doing resistance training in the gym. The results are not miraculous, but training coupled with an improved diet has resulted to me eating much less (nearly zero) junk food and losing some weight. Not a lot, but I can feel the dropping pounds. When we get the 6th week body scan I’m confident there will be encouraging results.

Learning to do the workouts slowly and mindfully is something I’m working on. Rhythmical breathing is also another issue: if I don’t concentrate I forget.

Finally, I’d like to run longer and so have researched running methods. I tried out Romanov’s Pose Method end of this month. It will take me some time to get used to this method, but hopeful that it will help me run longer.

A February to Remember

I’m happy about the improvements this month. Some people might think these improvements are peanuts. I know some people who like to boast “I’m good at every sport except swimming. Then I found TI and after just a few months I’m good at every sport”, or even “Using TI, I moved from being unable to swim to doing a continuous 5k without tiring, in only TEN DAYS!!!” I know that some people are natural athletes and “get it” immediately.

But not for me. This month was full of surprises and discoveries. Insignificant to many, but milestones for me.

Here’s a non-athlete who has been clumsy all her life, with incredibly poor mind-body coordination, and even poorer muscle memory. A woman who struggles to learn the simplest dance moves. The girl in phys ed volleyball class who prayed “Lord, please don’t let the ball come my way.”

Here she is now, being able to swim across a pool.

It really means a lot to me. I know it will take me ten, twenty, even a hundred times longer than the “average person” to be able to reach my goal of a continuous 1000m in swimming. But what I don’t have in natural ability I’ll try to make up for with sheer persistence.

I’m grateful to Total Immersion Swimming for giving me the tools and support to make this goal a reality.

February 2013. All in all a good month that makes me look forward to the next! 🙂

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