Sunday, October 28, 2007

Knackered

(jet lag, too many activities for a constitutional recluse, general exhaustion--forgive incoherence) BUT I must just take a few minutes before bed to observe that I had the most wonderful BREAKTHROUGH butterfly lesson today. It was like a miracle...

On Friday night I was seriously pondering that stroke, I was glad I went to practice my dolphin kick but despite helpful suggestions I was still feeling a bit stymied! (Good thing I don't have twenty-four-hour pool access or I'd have been back over there again to act on a commenter's suggestion...)

I am a terrible over-thinker, it is my vice--so I spent more than an hour late Friday night just pondering that stroke and thinking about how it might work and realizing I was missing a few crucial pieces...

But the lesson this afternoon was amazing. We did a bit of work on the breaststroke first, it's in decent train though (mostly just working some more on pull, with paddles and without, to get the feel and think about where you get the most power--esp. working on fixing problem of not keeping arms in front of shoulders), then switched over to fly. Broke it down into pieces, did quite a few things separately and then amazingly at the end I finally totally got it.

I was doing it exactly the wrong way around--I knew I didn't have it, but I couldn't seem to work out when to breathe.

And then it all came clear!

I find rhythm really helpful for thinking about this stuff, I was laughing afterwards at myself on the subway for being (unfortunately in this case) more the child of a music teacher than of a swimming teacher (I was thinking of my brothers' friend Mike Simons who always fondly reminisces when he stops by our family holiday gatherings on various features of our mother's avowedly quite wonderful elementary-school music teaching, including the famous ta ta ti-ti ta exercises and also her rendition of "Eleanor Rigby" which I must say that my brothers and I find somewhat embarrassing--sorry, mom!). B/c the thing that finally mentally let me get it went kind of like this....

First there were some intellectual realizations...

There is no reason to waste energy on kicking when you are not in a streamlined position...

It is a two-kick stroke cycle, but the two kicks are not evenly spaced...


And then came the more useful music-student-ish point...

I could see from I.'s vertical dryland demonstration that really the time signature is something more complicated like I am guessing 5/3, but my rudimentary version will do for now...


Think of it as a 3/4 time signature:

KICK-and-plunge pull kick-and-recover / KICK-and-plunge pull kick-and-recover / KICK-and-plunge pull kick-and-recover

And suddenly it was totally working...

I had to go downtown afterwards on the subway and I was basically in a butterfly-related dream, unfortunately to the extent that I actually missed my stop! (Also I think several people were sneaking glances because I was slightly swaying back and forth trying to really remember the rhythm--however I was more or less oblivious, really I was immersed!) I must consolidate before Tuesday-morning practice, I think all the pool hours tomorrow conflict with existing obligations but I must at least sneak half an hour during the lunchtime swim hours on Monday at the gym to go and do this again, I am still slightly mesmerized by it but it only REALLY gets consolidated in the water...

(NB also worth mentioning is that the upside of having only done 5 instead of 10 miles this morning on the run was that I certainly had considerably more mental acuity than I would have otherwise, I felt like I was learning twice as fast as I sometimes do, the afternoon swim lesson clearly benefits...)

3 comments:

Brent Buckner said...

Excellent!

Jenny Davidson said...

And do you see how I'm using Wendy-style italics?!?

Wendy said...

Indeed! Italics. Plus musicality.

(a) I used to teach dolphin kick using a dance craze (that will date me horribly) -- the bump!

(b) The timing of the second kick is most difficult to hit reliably -- once you hit it, it feels divine.

(c) You can achieve great power at the bottom of the butterfly armstroke ... if you kick at the underwater push phase of the arms your subsequent recovery will rocket out more easily and you will surge forward. You will often hear advice like, "finish the bottom of the stroke" or "remember to push". It is hard to follow either one without the correctly timed kick.