Thanks guys :) You shouldn't encourage me! ;)
So here's what came away from the session with, hopefully arranged in a readable order, and with a bit of explanation on the eccentric ones. Most (?) are common fare but I found them key:
- Make one CONTINUOUS STOKE CYCLING from left to right to left to right (start at 11 below!)
- Keep HEAD STILL, eyes follow line, neutral weight
- LEAD the pull with the HAND (scoop the water) pull yourself forward and down
- HEAD rotates WITH BODY, eyes still looking forward
- EXHALE in FINAL QUADRANT (air gives buoyancy)
- Breathe FORWARD as push begins (out of synch/syncopated)
- HIPS rotate DOWN on push (and spear) maximum buoyancy with both arms submerged
- Keep HEAD, BODY and LEGS aligned
- SLAP legs downward (don't kick)
- Push hand back ONTO THIGH, THEN exit elbow
- Swing recovery elbow OUT and AWAY from body
- REACH FAR ahead with fingertips straight (risk making a splash)
- VAULT body forward and REACH to other side
The part of the scoop idea (3) that worked was that pulling yourself down is actually only TRYING to do so as, if I breathe out in the final quadrant, my buoyancy is bringing me up at that point. This is the bounce you get in some one-arm drill and I hadn't felt that for a while.
It's frowned upon but I found (and this time gave myself permission!) holding onto my breath intially (5) is much better for me. If I begin breathing out immediately I lose buoyancy and begin to sink unecessarily compromising the breath taking. Testing this with the dead man's float I find that when I breath out, floating vertically in the water, I sink like a stone to the bottom of the pool!
Breathing forward (6) is also a big deal for me that has come from the last two sessions. Starting with neutral head facing down and turning it ONLY as with and when the shoulders turn really makes the the water surface become the visual focus. From this, the usual, one eye underwater breathing results in developing the popeye breath, but most importantly for there to be more time available for the breath. That means better breath with all the benefits of that! This timing feels slightly out with the rest of the stroke, like breathing on an off-beat.
Slapping rather than kicking (9) eliminates the bent knee problem by substituting that instinctive feel that we are producing thrust by kicking backwards - the opposite of what actually happens.
Coach Suzanne's swing-arm recovery (11) worked like a dream, connecting up many elements of the stroke for me.
The penultimate lesson (12) though came right at the end. After 2.4k of trying not to keep up with the triathlete in my lane (right!) and the club swimmer in the next (haha) I was knackered (insomnia rules ok) so sat on the pool side watching them for a few minutes. I couldn't resist dragging myself in for another shot though and found myself mimicking something about their easy style. It was their reach. That really gave me a feel of the water in the first quadrant of the underwater stroke. Initially I felt I was splashing a bit too, but I had decided that was not a bad thing at all. Mostly I think I was entering the water quite cleanly but as Tom wrrote: who knows. More importantly for me though I don't care, as I actually kept catching the tri-athlete up, this time REALLY expecting not to. Ok he must have slowed down maybe but I was doing a 1:53 time which by my standards is reaaly good and which was amazing compared to the 2:20 times before that.
Next session no doubt it will be down to zero again but .. hope springs eternal right :) Stay frosty.