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Old 01-02-2018
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Default Another Noob's Journey

Yes it has been a transformational journey. I never thought I would like swimming much less love it like I do now. TI method is amazing and all the posts in the community have been both helpful and inspirational. I hope this helps someone.

* 49 year old with an Iron Man on my bucket list and an awareness that as you get older there is more risk that stuff can go wrong.
* In the Clydesdale category of distance freaks (215 lbs, 6'0")
* Avid cyclist and runner
* Lover of all snow sports (Down hill, boarding, tele, classic, skate... love it all)
* Comfortable in water but terrified of open water and unable to complete a 25 meter lap without nearly passing out.

* Goal: Started in Aug 17 hoping to be able to do 1/2 mile by the New Year. Looking to feel strong enough brave open water in Spring 18.
* Current state: Swimming 75-90 minutes without breaks. 2.5-3 miles, though I don't trust my counting devices. Can't wait to try open water.
* I have confidence I can get in open water and that I will not simply die of exhaustion. Though I still haven't played that head game of being out in the deeps some place yet.

My Key Insights
* Sweet spot is my friend. When ever I lose any aspect of my balance, (body position, breathing, timing, head space) I will flip into sweet spot and do deep breaths.
* It's a WHOLE BODY thing! The drills are great, but it takes a while to get all the pieces together. My focus is always on coordinating everything before perfecting anything. It takes me a minimum of 15 min and often as much as 40 to get really comfortable when I am swimming. It takes that long to work off nervous energy and get my breathing in sync with my body. I have a hierarchy of what I focus on when I get into the water.
1) Full body rotation and timing. This is the really big stuff; literally. The bulk of my 215 lbs live here and its got to get into the swing before I can dance.
2) Breathing (comes in second only because I have to get through to the initial breathlessness of my initial heart rate spike 5-10 min after start... same thing happens when I run)
3) Kick force and timing. This brings the rest of my body fully on line and makes every stroke a full body explosion.
* SLOW DOWN. When I first transitioned from drills to swimming I got predictably frustrated until I really slowed down... only then did my whole body come into sync with my stroke. In the future I will work on smoother transitions between strokes and my try to increase my cadence... but right now I prefer to drive speed by putting more power in each stroke. I am passed by many people in the pools, but I see all of them taking breaks... and they are typically out of the water long after me.
* From here I work on the other secondary insights, or trying perfect some aspect of my stroke.

Secondary Insights and Visualizations that have helped
* Stretch out. So many other things fall into place when I focus on stretching out far.
_It keeps me lean(ish) and stretched on the surface with much less drag.
_It keeps my timing correct because stretching out prevents any 'cheats' where you start flailing in a rush to move
_It keeps my kick coming from the hip/glutes because you can't coil up for a knee kick if your spread like butter across bread
_Flaws in balance are quickly revealed (and often corrected) because you can't wiggle some other body part to stay afloat when you are in a full body stretch
* Savor the Glide: The sensation of slicing through water is delicious, sensual, powerful. Don't f* it up by flailing around. Drink deeply of the glide.
* Leap over the Catch. I can't always pull this one off, but it is cool when I get it. (My catch is the current area of focus of me.) At times it feels like my catch hand is stationary in the water and my my body is flying over it like a hurdler going over a gate. I can't quite figure out how to nail this one consistently but it is cool when it clicks. (I may not have enough strength yet to do this consistently.)
* Exhale completely. I always pass through a period in the early part of my swim (not the very beginning though) where I feel breathless and out of sync. I think tend to hold my breath too much in the beginning until I start to get a little tired and relax into it. I prefer to exhale through my nose, but I will also blow out through my mouth at these moments too to make sure I take a good full breath, I will also slow down for the breath.
* Patience with breathing. I accept this struggle when I run (in the first 15 min my heart rate spikes and I feel breathless. It typically takes a 1-2 miles before I settle into a run) but it is harder when swimming. The timing is constrained in ways it is not on a run or ride. It is easy to get really frustrated. Because my goal is confidence in open water I won't take a break on the side of the pool. I need to know I can work through cramps and breathing issues without hanging on to something or standing up. I will spend a little more time in each breath, and also switch to sweet spot for a bit before digging back in. Everyone once in a while I have a day where it all clicks, and some days it feels like it will never some together. I don't yet have enough awareness to know what I am doing differently on those days.
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