It's not quite a direct quote, but Dave is very encouraging. Which is nice.
First Swimprove session at Manchester Aquatics Centre tonight; a place which by rights I ought to know well since they were building it next to the halls of residence when I was doing my finals (if I still had my notes they'd be lined with construction dust). I think I've only been once, though, and I certainly didn't realise they had Serious Training Pools in the basement! Now that was a little intimidating, especially since they're 50m, something I'm not used to at all. But there were lots of friendly faces I recognised from Salford swims, and I even bumped into my first fellow Fitocrat in the sign-in queue, which was pretty neat.
So, on to the lesson. There were eight or so of us in the novice class and Dave took us through some basic drills, very similar to what I'd done at Salford previously but with some extra dry-land work. He got us to count our stroke over 50m as well, to show the improvement when you've corrected your style. This is something I've been working on by myself after reading Total Immersion, and I was getting a bit disheartened as it was about 16 over 25m. I knew that was ok, within range (aiming for 13-17 - things like height play into stroke length and mine at 5ft6 is definitely going to be different to a 6ft chap!), but I wasn't either getting a lower count or increasing my speed when I paid attention to it; there was just no change at all. Stroke count gives you an idea of how efficient you're being, which concerns me a lot more than speed at the moment. Over 50m my count was 41, and it turned out to be the lowest in the class (highest being in the mid-60s). Everyone else improved nicely over the hour, from what I could tell, but mine stayed stubbornly at 41.
Personally I think my count is a bit misleading because I have a very strong push-and-glide off the wall, getting well beyond the backstroke marker pennants every time. From what I could see most people weren't getting that far, so I need to find out the impact of that and correct if possible. I may not need the glide in open water but using it saves me energy in the pool, meaning I have a slightly skewed idea of how the distance feels and what my speed is. Anyway, the good stroke count and Dave's comments suggest I'm already doing a lot of the right things, which is good to know! In fact I was one of three who was told to switch to the intermediates lane after the lesson if I wanted to stay and swim some more. I'd have liked to try it, but I have no confidence in my speed - getting in the way of others really bothers me - and anyway, it was time to head home and tuck the kids in.
I enjoyed the lesson a lot; I'd definitely encourage anyone who wants to improve to try it and I'm looking forward to next week! It has screwed up my desire to start running again this week, though...I kicked rather too hard on one of those glides, hit the wall at an awkward angle, and sheared my big toenail half off. Luckily the nail bed is hardly damaged, but it's very tender so there is no way I'm wearing trainers for a while. Oh well.