After an incident of almost drowning in the pool at summer camp, swimming has always been on my mind as something that is scary. To make matters, I'm not very buoyant in the water. Even is a lung full of air I got straight to the bottom.
After 34 years I finally did something about it. While living in Qatar I hired a swim coach, who got me started down the right path. After struggling for a few more years, I sat down and truly analyze my training. I brought books, watched videos, and recorded myself. In the beginning, I could swim 25m -50m but I would feel like I was dying. I couldn't even do 75m.
My brain kept telling me I was drowning. I couldn't control my anxiety, I couldn't understand why. I tried visualization, meditations, breath holds. It was until I changed out my goggles for a dive mask that my training had changed. Once I started using the dive mask, I started to notice a real change. The wide-open views and protected nose calmed my nerves. First time wearing the goggles I completed 100m, a then it became 200m and 500m, within that same month I completed a 1500m swim.
I don't fully understand the science behind anxiety and how the brain works. One of the most challenging things for me has been being the water. I would have nightmares about swimming, now I can't live without being in the water at least once a week. It has helped me tackle other little problems in my life. Using the same approach, first breaking everything down into the small portion and analyzing the techniques. Secondly, find the correct tools that will allow you to accomplish the mission.
Anyways, I hope my little story inspires you to go out and tackle something you find hard.
Always structure your practice session with some drills that will reinforce muscle memory.
I always like structuring the swim sessions with strength days. So for the next session try this:
Pull ups - 10 reps X 4-6 Sets
Bicep Curl - 25 reps X 4-6 sets
Bench Press - 6-8 Reps X 4-6 Sets
This should kinda smoke your upper body but still active the muscles we are going to be using in the pool. Keep the weight at a hard level. It is really up to your level of strength but I like going a little heavy. Plus it gave me a bit of confidence before entering the pool.
25 m - Superman glide. Glide until you stop and then stand, for a total of 250m
25 m - Superman glides with flutter. Flutter until you need to breathe then stand, for a total of 250m
25 m - Superman glide with flutter, and 4 arm strokes then stand, You should be halfway through the pool, repeat for 500m
25 m - Regular freestyle, REST for 45-60 secs or 10 Dunks (hopefully you remember those), Repeat for 500m
50 m - regular freestyle as a cooldown, focus on the SLOW pace of 2:10-2:30 , and staying on top of the water. If you can not complete this 50m, it's okay. Journal you experience.
NOTE: The drills can be shortened to 100m as your body starts to remember the positioning. Once you learn how to swim you can drop these drills all together, but in the beginning, these if you only went to the pool just to do these drills you WILL pick up the skill.
This is one of my very first swimming lessons. Watching myself struggle makes me really appreciate the patience Coach had for me. When I teach adult swimming I try to have the same patience and understanding for what it feels like to not know how to swim as an adult.