Thursday, May 14, 2015

Swim Social Blog: "What a difference an hour in the pool with a qualified teacher can make"

"Eventually we started to get it and a strange thing happened; we all started to move quicker, further and all with less energy"

Blog from Chris Kane: One of the great things a Scottish Swimming “Skills and Drills” beginners’ class can achieve is to improve the technique of a swimming stroke.  I recently went to a class to work on my front crawl and was hugely impressed by the difference an hour in the pool with a qualified teacher can make. Our small class was taken by an excellent, qualified coach whom I quickly began to call “Andy from the side”. 

My front crawl usually involves me starting to swim like superman flies through the sky – head down, on my front with one hand stretched out in front and the other by my side.  Soon you’ll see my two arms cartwheeling in unison like a lumbering Mississippi paddle streamer.  “Not bad”, said Andy from the side of the pool, “but let’s make it better.” 

Andy lay on the side of the pool on his left side, body straight with his head resting on his outstretched left arm while his right arm rested on his right leg.   He then turned his head like he was sniffing his armpit.  “I want you all to swim like this. Keep your left hip near to the surface and use your legs to move forward, not your arms. When you need to breathe, turn your head and breathe”. 

The first time I tried to take a breath, I got a mouthful of water. “Your left hip isn’t at the surface so you’re swimming at an angle.  If your body was straighter, your mouth would be out of the water when you turn” said Andy from the side. 

Once I’d got the hang of swimming on my left side, I moved onto the right side. Once I’d mastered that, Andy brought us back to the pool edge and lay down to show us how to use the arm resting on our legs to begin to make the front crawl stroke. This involved lifting it out of the water stretching as far up and then in front of you as possible before trying to scoop as much water under your body as possible. 

“If you are lifting your arm through the water, you are still swimming at an angle” said Andy from the side.  The only angle you want is in your hand: point your hand down and create more drag through the water.  Do it with the right arm three times, then breathe and roll through the water before doing the same with your left arm” said Andy from the side before adding, “and I want to see your head sniffing that armpit once you’ve completed the roll”.  

Adding in our legs involved another trip to the edge where Andy from the side talked about our hips, knees and feet. “Most of the power comes from your hips, so move your legs up and down from there. Most of the propulsion comes from your feet, so make sure they are moving up and down. Most of the mistakes come from moving your knees too much so try and keep them still”. Moving around is easy until you think about all of the different elements individually; then your brain crashes like a computer and needs a timeout.  Eventually we started to get it and a strange thing happened; we all started to move quicker, further and all with less energy. 

“There you go!” said Andy from the side when it all started to fall into place, “Much better. Now keep practicing”.  

I have kept practicing and I’m finding the front crawl a much easier and enjoyable experience. Skills and Drills classes have levels from beginner to masterclass and can help anybody become a better swimmer. How much better depends on the practice. You’ll find details of your nearest Adult Swim Series classes at

Read Chris Kane's Blogs from his Adult Swim Class experience:

In at the Deep End!

“Power Comes from the Hips, Propulsion Comes from the Feet”