It amazes me how quickly I can acquire bad habits in the pool. Seriously, after swimming mostly on my own for the past few years, it only took about three months of swimming with a team again this past spring for sloppy habits to resurface.
Some of them, to be fair, are in direct correlation to “adjusting to new swim conditions.” For example, with five-six swimmers in a narrow, SCY lane, I can’t always get to walls well (weird angles going in and out of flip turns or no room to finish with a solid touch), I have to throw a few fly stutter-strokes at times to avoid getting creamed, I’ve caught myself looking down the lane instead of up to the ceiling on open turns to ensure I’m not about crash into someone, and optimal pace can be tricky to sustain, especially when I’m the problem (e.g. I’m an Oreo-IM-er: zippy fly/free; draggy back/breast).
But the majority of my sloppy spring training is on me. While a return to group training has been fantastic (getting pushed and coached!), the flip side is that it’s really easy to coast even though there’s absolutely no excuse or benefit for me to do so. Even if I am not leading a set, I need to know the set and intervals as written to work it to the best of my ability and to meet my goals.
Everyone has their own goal each day in the pool. Maybe it’s to stay healthy, train for open water or pool competition, be social and have fun, or just zone out and relax. My goals usually range from “competition training” to “staying fit and healthy.” As such, I need to learn how to adjust a set, such as “add more fly,” without disrupting the lane, to train my best daily.
After reviewing my spring swims, I realized I wasn’t doing myself any favors despite leaning on “I’m adjusting.” And, I could hear coach Mark Johnston in my head saying, “get out of your own way,” and “snap out of it!” Slowing myself down via bad habits is not going to help me meet my race goals. Especially when I’m already not known for certain technique elements like snappy turns. And I don’t want to make these new bad habits permanent.
Luckily, switching to outdoor long course meters kick-started an immediate correction phase. Foremost, there’s so much more room—even when there’s five or more swimmers in a lane, you can still go :10 apart, and you can swim all the stroke you want without fear of clipping anyone. Thus, it’s been an automatic switch back to head down 100-percent, even on turns, and it’s been easier to ramp up pace and stroke totals. Working harder feels awesome, and I swear, I’m already aware of “need to learn to carry good habits back into short course yards this fall.”
Next Week: How Can Anyone Not Talk about Trials Right Now?!