Monday, December 8, 2008

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen Clinic report

It was snowing yesterday when I woke up and facing a 2 hour drive north did not seem like a good prospect. I almost hit a stop sign on the way out of town the roads were so slick. Luckily the highway was clear and even though I had to slow down to 50 it was mostly safe. It took a bit of sleuthing to find the Pen Bay Y -- the Google directions were wrong! -- but after stopping to ask no less than 3 people I found it. I checked in and was greeted by Fritz who I would come to find out later was the first Mainer to make it to the Olympics from Maine. Don't know if he was the first Maine swimmer or the first Mainer period... whatever still damn impressive. Karlyn was chipper and friendly and I could tell a lady with an agenda. She told me and the other 3 women who had just checked in to go down to the locker room and change as she wanted to start right off by taking "before" video of us.

Whoa! The pool was gorgeous. An 8-lane brand new pool. How amazing to have 8 lanes! I was jealous.

On the deck I sized up the rest of the clinic. A real mix of people from all different swimming backgrounds. Cool.

I swam my 50 for the camera and then moved over to warm up. The way she did the video was smart. All from the end of the lane zooming in as needed depending on how far away we were from her. It is much easier to get a sense of one's stroke from a head on or back shot as opposed to a side shot (note for future reference).

We started off by doing some drills (I can't remember the order) to illustrate her main technique points.

*Streamline -- how to really squeeze your arms around your head. Elementary swimming stuff but I still fail to do this 60% of the time.

*Blow bubbles -- again elementary, but I tend to hold my breath instead of letting some air off the top first. She also recommends swimming with your mouth open (which I do) so that you are used to having air and water in your mouth as you turn to breath. First you shouldn't be raising your mouth out of the water all the way as your turn and second you should always be prepared for unknown conditions as you breath -- like a wave or wake!

*Arm Position -- Think how you would position your arms on the deck to get out of the pool. Shoulder width. Straight down. She called it the box crusher.

*Hand Position - Not tilted (as I was taught long ago) but flat, level with the water. Think your hand is a plane coming in for a landing. Let it glide in a few inches under the water. I felt the difference of this one pushing my hand down on a partners -- tilted in (ouch in the shoulder! right where my injury is), tilted out (not much strength) and flat (wow! there are my lats!! those muscles the PT keeps telling me to use and strengthen). And catch this -- the free pull shouldn't be that far off a fly pull. NO MORE "S"-Pull...

*Kick- small straight leg kicks, with pointed toes -- got this one I think.

*Head - looking DOWN at the tiles. I think this is a hard one. Why? Cause I don't know where I am going. Duh she said -- that is why pools have BIG BLACK crosses at the bottom. Okay right, but still I like to see where I am headed. However, keeping your head up lowers your hips which makes you slower. Split a 25 and try it both ways and feel the difference.

We towled off and went up to watch our videos. She gave us more pointers one-by-one and then we headed down for about 1 and a half hours of drills in the pool. She really kept us moving so we didn't get too cold. These drills were hard to wrap my head around and get my body to move in different ways. And even when I was mentally trying, my body wasn't always doing what I thought it was, which she always pointed out. We sculled with straight arms and straight forearms to feel the added strength. We did a lot of catch up stroke. Her stroke is really a modified 3/4 catchup. And the other big thing.... no follow-thru! Another thing all of us old-timers were taught (and my coach still wants me to do). The "Umph" (as she calls it) is at the beginning of the stroke -- not the end! The good clean deep water -- which is going to push you farther-- is in the beginning of the stroke.

Another visual for the new stroke. Think pulling on a surfboard. That is is this stroke. Your body is the surfboard.

Well there has got to be some merit to it. She's broken over 200 (and counting) Masters records. And this weekend she swims in Boston for the LCM (Long course meters) New England Championships. Wish I could go! But I can't wait to see the results.

Great workout this morning for practicing my new stroke... 15 x 200 on 3:00. Made them all on 2:32-2:36 which I was happy about since it shows I am getting better at pacing and knowing my different speeds.

A free plug for a great video.


IronMatron said...

You did them from 2:32 to 2:36??? Man, I couldn't do that in a race! This was very helpful, and when we get to a pool will you show me more specifically what to do??
Glad it was awesome.
miss you tons

Nitsirk said...

Sounds awesome. I may have to check that out next year. I suffer from 80's era technique and tilt my hand, keep my head up, and pull in an "s" with the emphasis on the end of the stroke. Oops.

Swimming for ME said...

You're not the only one! Good old Red Cross. But old habits are HARD to break I am discovering.

Ange said...

I'll be interested to try some of this. I've never been good at keeping my head up OR finishing my stroke. Glad someone out there is letting me off the hook! :) I'm glad you had such a good time!! hope to see you soon.