Swim Lesson 3: Brain versus body

Last night’s swim lesson was exhausting. Or rather, I was exhausted.

Saturday and Sunday night was out with friends, eating and drinking and while terribly late, I never sleep very well when I’ve had too much to drink. So Monday I was tired and by 7:30pm’s swim lesson, I was more in the mood to curl up with a bowl of hot soup and a book than put on a bathing suit. But I went because I paid for it and I knew I’d miss it if I didn’t go.

I guess I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t in the mood, because our class was half the size as when it started. Fine by me: more attention from the instructor.

We spent what felt like an eternity doing the back stroke. Backstroke is sort of like freestyle but on your back (huh). The BBC’s excellent backstroke for beginners has a nifty instructional animation and some useful tips. For instance

  • It is a good idea to count how many strokes it takes you to swim a length so you will know when you are getting close to the end of the pool. (Brilliant!)
  • Try and swim with all of your body close to the surface of the water, almost like you are lying on your back in bed with your head on a pillow.
  • Use long fast kicks, making sure your legs are moving up and down.
  • Keep your knees underwater and bent a little, and your toes should make a small splash when you kick.
BBC SPORT | Other Sport... | Swimming | Backstroke for beginners.jpg

Then our instructor had us learn the butterfly. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the butterfly in action, but it’s really weird looking, and somewhat ridiculous unless you’re an olympic athlete who swims to win rather than a normal person who swims to stay fit and relax. On top of all that, the butterfly requires really good technique. Wouldn’t it make more sense to perfect the basic strokes before getting into something advanced?

I was annoyed by the butterfly, and by my own unwillingness to try something new. I only did a couple [poorly executed] laps before class was finally over and I could go home and comfort myself with chickpea soup and a grapefruit (even if it’s wrong).

The learning point here is one lesson that I seem to revisit over and over again, but manage to forget every time: I just don’t have enough energy to work full-time, write part-time, swim, cycle, eat well, and have more than one or two drinks in a sitting. That last item on the list basically screws everything else, mainly because I don’t sleep well. This is an even harder lesson to learn than the butterfly. If I never swam the butterfly again in my life, at least I’d still have a social life.

What I need to remember is not the bad feeling of being tired, but the good feeling of swimming on a good night’s sleep, a well nourished body, and a bloodstream gushing with oxygen rather than toxins. Now how do I remember that when I’m at the pub?

Link to BBC’s Backstroke for beginners

Crossposted to spacekadet.org

One thought on “Swim Lesson 3: Brain versus body

  1. Akella

    We live in Orlando. Mr Phil from Big Fish Swim School gave swim lessons to my two children last couple of years. This year, he would be teaching my baby boy and giving refresher lessons to my older sons. He is the best swim teacher you could get for your kids. He is serious about his work and makes sure the kids get it RIGHT.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *