Every time I have a lesson with Shannon as part of her Flowaquatics swim school, I learn so much. All of my previous lessons have been in regular pools, but she actually has her own Endless Pools Fastlane pool and swims in it. Last weekend, I sprang for a semi-private lesson with one of my daughters in Shannon’s Fastlane. Here is the take-a-way:
- Swimming in the Fastlane accentuates everything. (the “pool-blue” colors are not links in this article) It doesn’t make it harder, but it shows where you are weak. This is partly because the current pushes against body parts. If you are not maintaining the necessary muscle tone somewhere (wrists, waist, anywhere),the current will take advantage of that.
- You can play with the current to discover the timing of when your “free energy” is gone. That is, it can teach you when your stroke is actually becoming a glide, but also that you maybe don’t have to stroke as fast as you think you might to keep that even pace. If you are continually floating backward with every stroke, you are probably gliding and losing momentum. But sometimes a slower stroke rate can keep you in the same place in the pool without using so much energy.
- The stroke above the water still needs to be relaxed and kind of out to the side. Or, you can say, the upper arm needs to be out to the side, so that the lower arm can hang at the elbow and finger drag properly. In my effort to stay in the current and still keep my elbow leading in my return stroke, I had developed the habit of holding my arm too closely to my side. This was straining my upper arm and shoulder, as well as making me waste energy because I was slapping the water on re-entry.
- Having the correct amount of roll to the body, when at the extended portion of the stroke is happening, keeps me aligned in the current. I don’t have to worry about my arms being aligned with the current when they are above water.
- Balance and being relaxed in the water are still key for maintaining efficient form and making progress with propulsion. Feeling like you are going fast does not mean that you necessarily are.
- A gain in efficiency will not necessarily feel easier. If you are thinking hard or using and stretching new muscles, you will likely come away from the swim session a bit more tired.
- The entry of the arm and the accompanying hip “switch” should not be noisy. Noise means wasted energy splashing the water in directions that are not helping to move you forward.
- My gradually increasing speed interval workout (will be posted July 11) was validated to help me with much of the above. I think I was just beginning to accidentally apply some of these things, but it will help me to know why that worked and that it is endorsed by someone with a lot of experience with both swimming and teaching. This will help me to use the concepts better and develop more aspects of my own workouts with understanding.
- Being able to swim for 20 – 25 minutes without stopping, even if it seems a bit slow, is good. I had been worried that it wasn’t “valid” because I wasn’t struggling. Shannon was very encouraging on that front. Just being able to keep a rhythm for that long seemed to impress her. Besides which, she thinks I always have a tendency to try to stroke too fast, so the slower pace was probably very good for my form.
- Knowing exactly what speed I am swimming at is not that important. Shannon does have gauges in her original Endless Pool that show water pressure, but she was more about asking how it felt when we were swimming, than making sure we were swimming at a certain speed. One way or another, I will be making progress.
Shannon had so much insight into our swimming. From our descriptions of experiences in our pool that she listened to patiently, to evaluating what she saw when we were swimming, she was a wealth of information. However, her presentation of it is never overwhelming and always about individual needs and goals.
When our lessons were done, she was getting ready to give lessons to moms with babies. I was tempted to stay and watch. She was so patient with the new ones as they were getting into the water. And they all got to sing songs. She didn’t do that for our lesson. In spite of this oversight on her part, I highly recommend lessons in a machine generated current if you are trying to swim in one regularly. It definitely helped us in ways that should make our swimming more enjoyable and more effective. If you live in the Boise area, give Shannon at Flowaquatics a call!