Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dilemma - advice from my triathloning friends?

So I went to my first Master's swim session tonight. I'd been concerned that the coach would not be supportive of the Total Immersion style, which I've been working so hard on for many months. Indeed the first thing I saw was that he had kickboards and leg floaty things set up for each swimmer. The assigned drills included quite a bit of use of both. He took one look at the way I swim and told me I was doing everything wrong: that I should extend my arm farther before entering the water (as opposed to the TI entry at the goggle line), that I should hold my head up so I look forward at a 45 degree angle (rather than straight down) and that I shouldn't rotate my hips - the very opposite of the TI style which is predicated on rotation. I briefly described the TI approach to him and he laughed it off, saying he'd never heard of it and "Micheal Phelps doesn't swim that way, nobody does in the competitive world."

So it's a bird in the hand dilemma - I can't do both, as it's all about muscle memory and practice, so I either stick with TI and practice on my own, taking a lesson every six months or so when I have the time and money, or go with the traditional, old-school swim team approach where I can get ongoing coaching. (Or keep going to the sessions but just do my own thing - seems kind of obnoxious to do that.) I've arranged my whole schedule to have Thursday nights available for this.

I'll add that I've really not mastered the TI thing - it's still laborious and VERY slow (the old and heavyset woman next to me was going at twice my pace), and he was probably quite right when he observed that my body was sort of flip-flopping (I think it's called fishtailing?) and not gliding straight.

I'm really not sure what would be a) best for my swim technique and thus my triathlon career, b) best for my fitness and c) best for my mental health (to get - or give up - a night out!)

Advice anyone?


LBTEPA said...

Tell him Alexander Popov does it and so does Libby Lenton.

Thinking it through, maybe you could go to the classes while you get your strength and confidence up, then tackle TI exclusively next summer? Hmmm. A night out is not to be sneezed at either!
I've found TI fairly easy to pick up - although extremely laborious and requiring heaps of BORING repetition - but I am a very strong (slow, but strong!) swimmer so it was a matter of modifying what I already had in place. Those drills nearly send me loopy.
Sorry to have been of so little help - let us know what you decide!

The Scott Family said...

My vote is for TI. I think its fantastic. I've not got the book or the DVD or done any of the classes but i've sortof taught myself from the free clips on the website.

My times have dramatically improved due to the TI technique. It has been a slow change but I think the TI technique is amazing.

I have 'shunned' swimming classes cos I thought the TI would be frowned upon and your story has been sort of convinced me that would be the case.

I hope you sort it out for yourself. I'd be interested to see how your swimming progresses either way

Enjoy reading your blog


RUTH said...

The important thing is increasing your confidence advice...have a night out and think about what YOU feel happiest with :o)

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

I think it depends on what you think is the right way to go. If you want to stick with TI, then do that. If you want coaching from a human and the masters swim works for your schedule, do that.

I would vote for Masters only because I went from non-swimmer to decent swimmer pretty fast with some real-time feedback from a human.

In the end, I think it's most important that you are happy and either decision could get you there. :)

GeekGirl said...

I'd be suspicious of anyone who openly mocks and derides anyone's style. There's lots of styles of doing things, and many of them are good. TI works for me. My coach has me work on drills designed to have me gliding and using more power with each stroke. Maybe it's time for a new coach...?