Today Holly and I attended a Swim Technique Clinic (which had been postponed from a snow date last month) which was held at Howard County Community College Pool in Columbia, Maryland. Local area Ironman triathlete Greg Steinbach was the clinician and used his background in aerospace engineering to good effect in helping us to improve the efficiency and power of our swimming strokes.
The pool was lovely - six lanes wide and with big picture windows all around looking out over the attractive campus.
There were only four of us there for the clinic, so we got lots of individualized attention. It was 4 hours long, and we got videotaped underwater from the side for 50m of freestyle three times.
Greg is preparing CDs for us and will send them to us in a couple of weeks. Mostly we worked on fore-aft balance drills and keeping elbows high, and they seemed pretty effective. Gave me a lot to work in in the next few weeks!
When we viewed the videos right away it was quite instructive. My last pass I was swimming pretty horizontally in the water with good arm extension out front. My head position is good most of the time, but I lift my head too much to breathe (and drop my arm when I do it). I also (like many swimmers) drop my elbows if I'm not concentrating on it or I'm getting fatigued, but I could really see the benefit in power when I was able to keep them high.
I find that if I concentrate on keeping my index finger low on entry, and push my elbow OUTward during the stroke, that seems to be a better mental cue to me than thinking of keeping elbows high. Whatever works, right?
My kick is way too big - who knew? I always thought I had a weak kick, when in fact I just need to improve the propulsion from my arm positioning. It also tends to make me yaw a bit when I'm on my side, which makes for a fairly crooked swim if I don't watch it.
He also showed us some slow-mo videos of Ian Thorpe for comparison. One head-on view was amazing - no deviation at all in that straight-line motion, and no hesitation at all in the stroke at any point.
We also did a little work at the end on sighting during open water swims which was helpful, too, and we discussed the course a bit for my season-opener Olympic distance coming up soon in mid-May.
It was well worth the time and it will give me a lot to work on in the next few weeks in the pool! It was also great to see Holly again and catch up a little on what's been going on in her busy life. All in all, a fun and productive day!