Saturday, July 13, 2013

Swim Session—Stroke Correction

Almost 3 years ago, during a dinner party, someone brought up the idea of attempting the triathlon. I have to say that triathlon sounds like an interesting sport, but the thing that made me doubtful about attempting it was the swimming discipline. I can swim the distance, but I can only do the breaststroke. I've never been any good at the freestyle. After that dinner party, I did try to swim again after about 15 years, but I haven't really been very successful in the freestyle.

Well, I have since conquered the sprint distance triathlon as well as the so-called modified distance (which was slightly longer than the Olympic distance), and both times in Miri. However, at both these events, I used the breaststroke. I think that style is good enough for shorter triathlon events, but it would be ideal if I could use the freestyle, especially when attempting longer triathlon distances. 

I heard that there will be a half Ironman distance in Nusajaya later this year. That would be a good event to explore, so it is now even  more important that I learn the freestyle. In fact, I have been trying to learn that style over the last few months, but although I have slight improvement, it is still very slow.

Therefore, when Judy suggested that we invite Stephanie Chok, the former state swimmer and national triathlete, to conduct a stroke correction swim workshop, I told myself that I must attend. It was held at the Likas swimming pool at 9:30am today. But before that I went for my weekly cycling. I had to cut short my ride to 50km to make it back in time for the swim workshop. Judy was supposed to ride with us too, but she texted me in the wee hours of the morning to say that she did not know how to assemble her bike! You see, she had just returned from Port Dickson last weekend for the triathlon. So there you go—a triathlete who doesn't know how to assemble back her own bike!

Anyway, I was surprised to see quite a big turnout at the pool when I arrived. Stephanie was already there in her grand swimming outfit.

And by the way, those of you who are still doubtful or unsure, let me hasten to confirm that Stephanie does have a pair of breasts, thank you.

Judy was also there, and just as I was approaching the pool, she was just about to start her warm-up lap.

But of course before that, the ladies simply had to take some photos first; it wouldn't have been them if they hadn't, if you know what I mean?

Even Alex, whom I haven't seen for ages since he broke his arm last year, was also there!

It wasn't meant to be a swimming lesson; rather an opportunity to be seen swimming by Stephanie, so that she can perhaps identify our weaknesses and suggest possible remedies. The session was quite an eye-opener, but I'm beginning to get very tired of hearing that my strokes are too stiff. I've been trying very hard to deal with that problem for a long time now, in fact since 3 years ago as reported here!

To make her point, Stephanie told us to observe her strokes from underwater. Oh! she can really swim, that woman; she made it look so easy! From underwater angle, I struggled for a bit to watch her arms in action, because the XY genes in my DNA kept shifting my focus to the lower half of her body instead of her arms. But I was able to concentrate on her arms anyway (it wasn't easy to fight instinct, you know).

One by one we swam a short distance, and Stephanie gave her assessments and suggestions for remedial steps to improve. Douglas Chong was the most special swimmer of the day—we were all either swimming breaststroke or freestyle, but he would not have any of it; he swam the backstroke instead! I can understand what he's going through as I was just like him some years ago. Upon encouragement from Stephanie, however, he eventually ventured out a few metres with the freestyle; and gave me quite a scare, he did too! We were all clinging onto the side wall watching him approach. And because of the design of the pool with ridiculously high side wall, Douglas had to struggle to reach up to rest. He behaved like he was about to drown, while Stephanie was still calmly giving him compliments!

The session was just for an hour, and I didn't realise the time had slipped away so quickly. We all swam back to the other side of the pool where one by one we had to pull ourselves up the ridiculously high side wall. But when it was Judy's turn, she made it look like it's a complicated wall-climbing endeavour, thus provoking Stephanie to comment absently-mindedly that Judy needs to build up her upper body strength! I'm sure even Spider-Man would have cringed seeing her climb that wall. Unfortunately, our official cameraman had already gone home by then (where are the cameramen when we really need them?!).

So now that I know that I'm still stiff, I guess I will have to spend more time to focus on how to solve that particular problem! I will work on it again, hopefully beginning from next week, and then if there is an opportunity, get Stephanie to see me swim again in a few weeks' time. 

I'll be back!


Unknown said...

Bosss....u need to stretch....thats the solution of your stiffness ;)

Cornelius said...

OK, Steph, will try to heed your advice. But it will be an uphill task for a 48-year-old man. Anyway, even if I can, I'm NOT gonna stretch like John Chin ah!