My first year
One year ago I decided to take the (frankly quite scary) leap from competitive swimmer to swimmer/coach. So much has happened, it seems like time to review and take stock.
I took the USMS Level I and II certifications and began reading -- a lot. If I was going to help people improve, I figured that I couldn't merely rest on the knowledge base that I have gathered through the years and what has worked pretty well for me -- I needed to be more than prepared for every student that comes to me, wide-eyed and hoping I will help take them to the next level.
Last summer I began teaching at Kennebunk Pond and then segued to Mother's Beach. This winter, I have begun working with She Jams triathletes out of Portland. Running two groups of 30 women of varying abilities was a daunting task at first, but we are settling in and I truly look forward to every Sunday evening with these enthusiastic, fit and responsive swimmers.
My private coaching business has gotten very busy -- I think, in part, because I give a lot of energy, physical and mental, to my athletes. I view every swimmer as a puzzle to solve. Sometimes it takes a few lessons/workouts to begin unlocking the key to their speed and power. I call it the Mind-Body-Clock connection: I can instruct them, but they have to translate that into action and feel the difference in the water -- and then see it on the clock. Sometimes they don't believe the progress they have made until I tell them what their pace was and what it is now.
Many athletes swim at the same speed every time they enter the water and expect to get faster. Sounds like the definition of insanity. A combination of technique work, speed play work, and endurance building culminate in measurable improvement.
Athlete who has completed an Iron Man and intends to complete a second one this summer -- faster. Before: she has never been instructed on correct arm technique, as the first video shows elbows dropping even before entry. After video at end of just one lesson shows remarkable progress with higher elbow and better arm position and power generated with rotation and tempo.
Example: Triathlete and open water swimmer of 10 years has reached plateau. From deck she looks pretty good and we concentrate on pacing and endurance...
...but later analysis of underwater video shows two major weaknesses:
1. She is pulling with almost a straight arm. She is not engaging her major muscle groups for a powerful pull.
2. She is pressing down on the catch and not getting that hand pointing to the bottom of the pool and propelling herself forward.
The good news: both are easy fixes and she should be swimming faster and more efficiently in no time!
I had no idea how gratifying this journey would be. I am grateful for the chance to work with such eager and focused students.
I am looking forward to running some open water clinics this summer. Feel free to message me if you are interested in a clinic or private instruction.
Racing season is going to be really exciting this year!