- Keep your head level and flat, completely parallel to the surface of the water. I typically hold my neck at an upward angle – as if I’m trying to see the end of the pool rather than the bottom of the pool. This is a problem because it makes me breathing much more difficult. Holding your head parallel to the water, you are able to do a simple look to the left or right when you need to take a breath.
- Keep your butt up. Apparently, your butt is supposed to be a floatation device. Well, I don’t have that – my boney little booty wants to drag me to the bottom. Keep your butt up by holding in your abs – it helps with your kick AND it will help keep you high enough in the water to take nice long breaths. This is a picture of BAD leg position!
- Kick from your hips, not from your knees. It propels you farther and faster, plus you will be using your bodies largest muscle group – the quads – rather than you calf muscles.
- Just the tips. (Wedding Crashers reference, anyone?) When bringing your arm up over your head, be sure to “cut the water” with your fingertips rather than the flat surface of the palm of your hand. Cutting the water rather than slapping the water will reduce resistance so you don’t tire your arms as quickly. It is more efficient and its actually easier – once you get the hang of it.
- Just above your head. When cutting the water, do it just above your head. This way the full extension of your arm is not wasted above water and it will instead be a part of your pull, propelling you that much farther.
- Humming bubbles. I had been breathing in my mouth and blowing bubbles out of my mouth underwater between breaths. First lesson of swim class was to blow bubbles out of my nose instead. You can pace your breathing much better through your nose and it also eliminates the whole water up your nose problem. Hint: humming underwater will help you naturally blow bubbles out your nose and keep your mouth shut. You’ll still be breathing in your mouth when you take a breath.
- Three kicks per arm. A good way to keep your legs up is to kick them harder! Consider kicking three kicks for every one arm stroke. That means a full stroke of both your right and left arms will take up six kicks. Count it out for a couple laps just to see how it feels – once you get the feel you can do it without counting. Its not an exactitude, just a general idea.
- Six count kicks. Another great way to kick harder is to get a rythm down. Instead of kicking haphazardly down the pool, back and repeat, try instead to kick in counts of six. The same exact way you would count in fours while playing an instrument – counting in sixes will help you keep the “beat.”
- Stop thinking. Hum this tune, count your stroke (1-2-3 breath), count your stroke to kicks (one stroke, kick, kick, kick, two stroke, kick, kick, kick), count your kicks (1-2-3-4-5-6), keep your butt up!, cut the water!, repeat. There’s a lot to think about and at times it gets a little overwhelming. Thinking about counting my kicks per stroke, I forget to breath and then I realize OH shit, I haven’t been breathing!! GULP, pool water. DROWN. While it is good to think about these things one at a time and to focus on the various aspects - when you actually go to swim a few laps the biggest thing you can do is to just STOP THINKING. Practice each thing one at a time – using a kickboard to count kicks, etc. But when you bring it all together, let your brain get quiet and let your body do the talking.
- Pull buoy. Using a pull buoy between your legs, you can get a really good feel for where your legs should be AND you can practice your breathing and stroke without having to keep track of kicking.
- Hand paddles. The hand paddles were BY FAR the most useful part of my lessons! Wearing them, you absolutely cannot make your stroke wrong – the second you get sloppy with your arms you feel the immediate resistance from the paddles and you learn really quickly that doing it right is the easier and better way. Even after you have your stroke down pat, these are great little tools to use for strengthening your arms.
- Six count kicks. Mentioned above, counting to six helps structure your kicking and keep your body in rythm.
- Three count breaths – then five – then seven. When you are first starting out, humming bubbles under water, try counting your arms, one right, one left, one right = 3 and a breath. Using odd numbers ensures that you are breathing on both sides which will help with balance. As you start to feel comfortable with three strokes, move to five, then seven, so on and so forth.
- A song that won’t drive you crazy. Remember I said to hum underwater? Well, yeah, its a good idea not to listen to something annoying like CALL ME MAYBE just before hopping in the pool – that will drive you crazy. My song of choice is the alphabet song because it doesn’t stay lingering around in my head once swim time is over. I thought this was kind of silly until I told my instructor and she admitted that her song was Twinkle, Twinkle – hey same melody!
Plus, what’s in my swim bag
Just to get into the water these things are my must haves! Seen in the above photo: a swim cap, goggles and ear plugs. All from Speedo! I’m like a walking advertisement for Speedo, I swear.
Well, except for the swimsuit. Maybe Speedo wants to send me one?? Pretty, pretty please? I actually have two of the same suits shown in this photo – one is red (so I trick people into thinking I’m a lifeguard when really I can’t save anyone) and cost me $3 from Walmart during the winter and then this one shown cost me $15 just a few weeks ago. Yeah, super ugly but the price was right.
My other MUST HAVE for swimming is L’Oreal Kids Mango Tango Shampoo – it is the only shampoo I have found that completely rids my hair of the chlorine smell AND it leaves my hair shiny and moisturized. Best part: it smells exactly like a Jamba Juice store
Coming up starting tomorrow! Ten Summer Meals in 30 minutes or Less. BONUS: One Easy Shopping List! I’ll be posting recipes and how-to’s for the following meals starting tomorrow.
- Spelt Salad
- Margherita Pizza
- Dill Salmon
- Salmon Salad
- Chinese Chicken Salad
- Chicken Stirfry
- Caprese Stuffed Chicken
- Shoepeg Chicken Salad
- Antipasto Pasta Salad
- Mango Chicken Salad