Ach, my legs and abs. When I woke up and thought about sitting up in bed this morning, I strongly considered death as a viable option. Whoa. For a "short distance" swim, it completely worked me over.
A friend of mine is a super duper swimmer, and when I shared my swimming woes with her, she offered to coach me.
Basically, I have no fear of the water- pool, open water, not a problem. I float very well. My problem is that I'm slower than mud. If I raced a glacier, I might beat the glacier. That's about it. My swim was so slow that in the Rolf Prima last year, I was among the last five out of the water. In the Leadman, I was actually shocked- because of my little freak out at the start of the race, I flipped over and started doing the backstroke. I ended up going so fast that I did this backstroke the whole way. I came out as fast as the people doing the crawl. There were actually so many people in the water after me. That was fun.
But it also meant something was very wrong. Most people are not faster in the backstroke.
My upper body stroke could use a few tweaks, but that actually wasn't the real problem. My friend looked puzzled for a few minutes and then looked at my legs. She gave me a kick board and asked me to kick side by side with her. She swam away. I remained stubbornly in place, kicking like the world was ending.
Here's the problem: picture the movement you make when you are stomping on a box to mash it up for recycling. Updownupdownupdwn. That's pretty similar to the movement I was making as I tried to swim kick. Meanwhile, as I got near the end of the pool lane and maybe got a little tired, my kick would drift to the side- imagine the movement you make when you are walking in a park and go to close to the pricker bushes, and must kick the bushes off. You kick to the side, gingerly, shrieking all the while.
Thankfully water drowns out the shrieking.
I once tried a "dolphin kick" for a week or so but I don't think that person described it correctly. They said "keep your legs straight and kick like a wind up toy". Shocking, keeping my knees locked and kicking with straight legs was also not effective.
So my friendcoach taught me a new way of kicking where you keep your knees sort of loosey and the tops of your feet feel like they are pushing away water. And you also loosen up everything else.
All of a sudden, I am moving through water. I'm going to practice kicks and then slowly start laps again.
This new kick sure takes a lot out of me. On one hand, I am moving through the water at what feels like a much after rate than before. On the other hand, these muscles have never swum like that before. My legs and especially my abs and my side abs- what do we call those again? obliques?- are exhausted!! I just hope I can build up my stamina for the crawl by July! I also have some running stamina to build (three more miles to my base) by July. So I should in short order have legs of steel.
You'll be welcome to call on me for all your kicking needs. I'm expecting to field calls from the local police department for door-kicking-in, and from random friends needing pricker bushes side-kicked, with a side of shrieking.