Do you know what happens to your legs during a breath? Have you ever paid attention to what your hands do when you push off the wall? Knowing the answer to these, and many other body awareness questions, is what separates successful swimmers from the mindless individuals who just go up and down the pool without even giving a thought to their stroke. Fair enough, if someone does not want to learn to swim properly, mindless swimming is a way to get away from the real world and relax, but mindless swimming with a proper technique would definitely give them much more pleasure, relaxation and most of all prevent swimming related injuries. Total and controlled body awareness is a key to a successful and enjoyable swimming experience. Learning to swim or improving on your swimming skills can be at times an overwhelming task as there are million and one things a swimmer should think about: a proper head position, above the water high elbow recovery, hip rotation, front high elbow catch, a nice narrow kick during Freestyle, and proper breathing rhythm. Putting all of these body movements together and controlling them in a proper way is a magical thing which comes with a lot of practice, but if a beginner swimmer tries to think about all of the above aspects of swimming at once, it is usually a disaster and it always looks awful. Do not let that discourage you though :).
To help us with this, we break the stroke down into miscellaneous swimming drills instead of swimming the full stroke all at once. If you read this blog regularly, you have heard me mention many swimming drills which are specifically designed to work on one of the million and one things that you should think about. This drill isolation technique is the only way to learn the proper swimming body movements and then imprint them onto your muscle memory. It is exactly the same with reading. If, when you were five years old, I put in front of you the Jules Verne adventure book I mentioned earlier, you might look at me in dismay and feel overwhelmed. However, if I first teach you the alphabet and then build gradually on those skills, by the time you are ten years old, you will reach for the book on your own initiative and will devour the German professor's adventures within several days.
|Arm moving away from middle body line|
|Scissor kick for balance support|
There are many more of these small nuances that are done on an unconscious level and, unless a fellow swimmer or a coach points them out, the swimmer in question will never notice them. So remember, next time you are out there doing your thing, practice total body awareness and try to notice what each separate part of your body is doing. Pick one part of your body and follow its movements in your mind through one lap and see if you can visualize exactly what it does. Once you discover an issue, find a drill (not a full stroke) which helps to fix it.