Friday, February 13, 2015

Swim Social Blog: In at the Deep End!

"By the end of the class I was swimming further and faster, but the biggest revelation for me was it was becoming easier." Chris Kane

Blog from Chris Kane: If you are lucky, you learned how to swim at school.  If you weren’t, then there are lots of classes at your local swimming pool and you are never too old to learn.  Swimming is a life skill for all and a hobby for many – with an increasing number of people taking to the water to get fit.  Triathlons are hugely popular at the moment, as is open water swimming and if you’re serious about competing, you’ll want do it more efficiently so you can go faster. Whatever level you are at, a Scottish Swimming adult swimming class can make a world of a difference.

Run as part of the Adult Swim Series, each class is taught by qualified coaches and is limited to around a dozen people. Coaches look at each component of your swimming stroke and offer improvements – sometimes small, sometimes major, but all designed to help you reach your full potential and have you gliding through the water.

I attended a session at the Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh called “Skills and Drills”, with the 50m pool split into “beginner” and “intermediate” classes.  There was also a training event for Masters swimmers.

I was a beginner and, like the dozen or so adults in the water alongside me, a reasonably competent recreational swimmer.  We were there to learn how to become better at the front crawl and for an hour the two coaches assigned to our group showed us what we were doing wrong and how to make it better.

The intermediate class had mostly completed any radical changes and were starting to work on the finer details.  Some had finished the beginner classes and were looking to be better swimmers. Some were cyclists and runners looking to get their swimming skills up to speed ahead of upcoming triathlons.

The Masterclass swimmers were a stage further on – focusing on the speed of turns, the way they kicked off from the wall, core strength building and other key concepts.  Masters Swimmers are usually members of clubs and take part in competitions – all of their drills were aimed at shaving vital seconds from their competition times. 

In my beginners’ class, everybody had a slightly different reason for attending.  One woman wanted to get better at swimming to give her an alternative to running on rainy days.  One man had used swimming to aid recovery after an illness and wanted to keep going.  The overriding reason was to try and turn swimming from a life skill to a hobby.

For this class, teachers Andy and Olivia were focused on improving our front crawl.  This involved us focusing on individual elements of each stroke.  By the end of the class I was swimming further and faster, but the biggest revelation for me was it was becoming easier.  I was using energy more efficiently, which in turn meant I was less tired and so I was enjoying it more.

Afterwards, I caught up with Scottish Swimming Participation Development Officer Jayne Smith. She says, “Swimming is like any other skill – how and what you learn makes a huge difference to how you perform.  At Scottish Swimming we want to help everybody be the best they can be.  For some that means learning to swim for the first time or overcoming a fear of the water.  For others it means developing swimming skills for competition. Swimming is not just a skill that can save your life, it is a skill you can use throughout your life. The support the water offers takes a lot of the strain from the body that can affect it in other activities.  In Masters Swimming we have competitions for all age groups and have people competing well into their eighties.   Our Adult Swim Series classes can correct bad habits and set recreational swimmers up with a hugely rewarding new hobby”.

One difference between adult classes and the classes I remember as a child is the frequency you need to attend.  Jayne says Adult Swim Series classes don’t have to be intensive – you can dip in and out of them when you have something you want to work on.’’

I’ve been back at my local pool twice since my lesson putting the tips to good use.  I’ve hugely improved my posture and the way my arms move but I’m not doing quite so well with my legs.  I’ll keep practicing and go back to another class if I can’t work it out on my own.  Or if I do work it out, I’ll go back when I’m ready to try an intermediate class.  Or work on another stroke.

I’m hugely encouraged by the comments of one woman who climbed out of the pool after that first lesson and said “That was fantastic.  I’ve never had a lesson in forty years and can’t believe the difference that made”. 

You’re never too old to learn a new skill or improve an existing one.  For more information on the national Active Adults Swim Series and to find a Skills and Drills class near you, log onto www.scottishswimming.com/adults.

The next Adult Swim Series is in Abderdeen on Sunday 22nd Feburary. Find out more details here

To find out dates and venues of all the 2015 Adult Swim Series click here

To book onto an Adult Swim Series Session click here

To view a video showcasing the Adult Swim Series Click here

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