Swimming – gradual improvements

Over the course of the year to date, running has taken a backseat to swimming and although I’ve run 2 – 3 times a week, my focus has been on getting to the pool.

The impetus has really been the STC swim sessions and I’ve tried to get to 2 of these a week. In fact, this week, I’m planning in going to 3 of the sessions.

I’ve started to see improvements and SWILF scores are generally heading in the right direction and have gone from 50% ish to sub-45. I’ve even hit scores of 41-42% which I’m really pleased about. I do have to remind myself at times that the lower SWOLF scores may be due to wearing fins or using a pull-buoy but the scores above are genuine non-assisted efforts.

There’s little chance that I’d have improved my swimming efficiency by just going swimming. The technique drills and other sets of the STC sessions really work.

A week or so ago, I was promoted to lane 2 and felt like a, er, fish out of water. At this Monday’s session, I was the slowest in the lane but not by a big margin.

My two issues have been EVF (early vertical forearm) and bilateral breathing. I’m working on both and hope to see some positive improvements in the coming weeks.

With regards bilateral breathing, I’m trying to incorporate it in slower lengths or when using fins or a pull buoy. Although this accounts for only about 15-20% of a session, it’s progress. I’ll continue to do the same until it’s a completely natural part of my stroke.

To try and improve my technique, I’ve been incorporating strength and conditioning sessions at home based on exercises outlined in the book ‘Swimming Anatomy’. I’m really making a concerted effort to build some upper-body strength to help my swimming. I have most of the equipment that’s recommended in the book including dumbbells, resistance bands, gym ball, weighted bar and pull up bar plus I supplement the workouts with some kettlebell exercises.

Working from home gives me a few opportunities during the day to throw in some exercise.

It’s not been in vain as, although I’ve never had much in the way of upper-body muscle and am quite pigeon-chested, I’ve noticed a few muscles sprouting in recent weeks. My shoulders and arms are looking a little less weedy than normal. The spare tyre is still very much in existence but I’m hoping that might slowly disappear over the coming weeks and months.

One of the negative aspects of swimming more is that I’m suffering more from a related allergy. Following a swim session, my nose can alternate from being blocked up to running like a tap. Although many experience this is ‘chlorinated’ pools, I also suffer from it after a lake swim so it can’t be chemicals. The fact that I suffer for the entire period between swim sessions with cold-like symptoms is far from great. Having googled the issue, the overwhelmingly-suggested solution is a nose clip. Although I do tend to breath out through my nose when doing front crawl, I’m going to have to adapt this as a clear nose is far more important. Will be trying the nose clip today. Fingers crossed.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve tried to burn off a few excess grams by getting on the treadmill for about 30-45 minutes. Last night I did a pyramid session consisting of 1km intervals with 3 minutes rest with the intervals being at 10kmph, 10.5kmph, 11kmph. 10.5kmph and 10kmph. I plan to do a double pyramid session next week and will play around with shorter rest intervals.

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