For those of you who know me, you know that I am not a swimmer I am a sinker. Rewind back to 1999, I failed my US Naval Academy 100 meter swim test and only passed because I took the alternate test and floated on my back for 20 minutes.
For the last 6 months, I have been swimming with my daughter’s club swim team. This has been a humbling experience since the 12-year-olds were crushing me. Yes, I am competitive but mostly against myself. I saw myself making marginal gains in the water and I could only complete between 1000-1200 yds per practice. So I decided to hire a swim coach.
I hired coach Cody, from Front Pack Swimming. He is an Olympic-level coach that works with hundreds of triathletes and swimmers. So far my experience has been amazing. We spent the first week on filming and stroke analysis to establish my baselines. The best thing he told me was, “you have like 30 things to fix, but we are going to work on just 3 or 4 for now and it should clean up almost everything.” This was 8 weeks ago.
Every week we do timed test sets to mark improvement. In week 1, my 100 yards swim was 1:44 and my 100 yards pull with a buoy was 1:40. In my most recent week 8 set from 3/15/21, I went 1:28 on my swim and 1:17 on my pull. This was truly remarkable to see the differences a couple of months made. By refining my stroke, my form in the water has been making lasting improvements. But this was just half the battle, I also had to work extra hard outside of the pool to make these changes stick.
Over the last 8 weeks, I have also discovered a lot about my body and what I need to work on. My dryland work and recovery have been critical to making improvements. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago I strained my lower back by stretching my hips too much. Yes, stretching, something I tell all my clients to do more of. But when I took it upon myself to work on what I thought I needed, I ended up hurting myself. This was quickly discovered and brought to my attention when I worked with the Elite OSM staff.
The rehabilitation process began with getting an appointment with Dr. Alicia Martinez, from Elite OSM. She has worked on me in the past and has a clear understanding of my issues. During our visit, she starting reviewing what I was doing and she noticed as I reached overhead with my right arm like in my swim stroke, I shifted my hips to the left. This made complete sense to me since breathing to my left was nearly impossible unless I pressed down into the water to lift my head. I am sure this had something to do with my low back issue, the stretching just put it over the top.
Once we discovered this, she had me shift my focus to my lats, serratus, traps, and neck. A few days later I saw one of Dr. Martinez’s colleagues, Dr. Greg Donadio at the Elite OSM downtown office and we made a lot more progress on releasing my neck and shoulder muscles.
Now that I was on the mend, I became focused on stabilizing my hips as I pull with my arms. Coach Craig and I sat down and figured out some drills and exercises we should focus on. One of my main dryland drills comes from my swim coach Cody.
Dryland Drills and Exercises
We started to work on the catch and setting up the stroke with a stable pelvis. To do this we used an elastic band anchored to a high point. With a light band, I was able to repeat the intent of the swim stroke. Coach Cody was repeating the same thing to me, we need to stabilize the hips and work on reach, vertical forearm, and pull. This was all I needed to feel the power in the water. Increasing my stability in the hips, I was able to go 1:17 on my pull with a buoy, this was 10 seconds off in 2 weeks. I didn’t miraculously learn to swim better, I learned to control my body better. Check out this video on our dryland training process and some discoveries we have made to make our swimmers faster.
For the majority of my life, I have sought out coaching to help me discover what I need to focus on to make myself better. Whether it was learning to surf while I lived in San Diego, riding a mountain bike, playing golf, starting a business, becoming stronger in the gym, eating better or learning to swim. A coach has helped me excel in the adventures I want to participate in. Do yourself a favor and hire a qualified coach to get you over the obstacle you are struggling with. Sit down with your coach and create goals that you want to achieve and create a plan to get there. This is what our clients do with their coach at the Performance Ranch. Our coaches and specialists help you succeed in your personal endeavors, no matter what you want to achieve.