Today I went to my first lesson with Coach Shinji Takeuchi, who runs Total Swimming West (TI Swim West). I was getting kind of frustrated with my swimming in that I was improving, but I did not have consistent improvement nor did I have a good sense of what I should be improving. Shinji was perfect; a private coach and he videotaped his students for later review!
Also, I watched his cool videos on Youtube. Man, look at this guy swim:
He's so frickin' smooth it's unbelievable. I knew that I had to take lessons from him - I've always wanted to achieve that smooth, glide stroke and didn't really know how to get there.
Back in 2003, I took a TI seminar and thought it was pretty good. But I also felt that being a group seminar that individual attention was not possible so it helped, but I think that I wasn't able to improve further. Now I could get firsthand individualized instruction: perfect!
Coach Shinji started videotaping immediately and he taped me the whole time. Watching my swimming video is always painful; I think I'm not all that graceful in the water! But I did show improvement by the time the 45 minute coaching session was over.
The most interesting points I learned was:
1. When I turn to one side during a stroke, my lead hand needs to spear forward at about 6" under the surface, and then end up about 12" down and also about 4" outward. The outward distance counterbalances my body turning to that side, and the 12" down helps keep my hips up by providing a counterbalance forward.
2. Speed comes from the hip not only in pulling the stroke hand back, but also in driving the spearing hand forward.
3. Relaxation of the whole body enables longer glides.
4. I was arching my back too much and need to rotate my pelvis slightly forward to more flatten my back. This also increased my speed.
5. Kicking too much uses up oxygen. He ran me through some repetitions of drills without taking a breath and I found I could go farther by kicking less intensely. Of course relaxing helped as well.
My target goal is to make it across a 25 yard pool in 14 strokes. Right now I'm about 21. In terms of drills, I should be able to make it across the pool with the Superman glide in 3 or less; I'm at 5 right now and should be able to do better.
Lots of practicing between now and my next lesson. Looking forward to more coaching from him!