Last year, before I decided to train for Triathlon, I always thought I was a ‘good’ swimmer, until I found myself gasping for air after a 50 meters swim. Then, with no formal training I was able to practice my way into completing a half-Ironman race last year in Cebu, and once again I thought I was already a ‘good’ swimmer… until I met Coach Angelo Lozada.
The simple things I learned after a few sessions with Coach was a breakthrough. I learned that…
1. In swimming, proper technique is key to a more efficient swim. It helps you glide more fluidly in water maximizing pull and minimizing drag. In short, you can achieve maximum distance with minimal effort.
2. I learned what the drills are for, Catch-ups, Brush-ups, Kicks, etc. Each drill is designed to help correct, strengthen or improve balance.
I noticed that after some form corrections, I was able to maintain the same speed for my 100m swim but with less effort. I am now swimming more efficiently. Thanks to Coach!
Fortunately, Coach Lozada agreed to have a few sessions with the Pinoy Fitness Tri Team as well, and here is what they have to say!
I was a bit anxious to go through form correction. It has been a while since I was coached, in swimming or otherwise. I knew at the bat, too, that I had bad habits (which was why I agreed to this in the first place) but maybe the anxiety was more related to childhood trauma connected with temperamental teachers. Lol. Of course Coach Angelo Lozada was not like that. He had a warm but authoritative demeanor. A mark of a good teacher.
He asked me to do some laps first while he took videos and observed. With just a few laps he already spotted several bad habits. It was a little embarassing watching myself in video and listening while Coach pointed these out one by one. You have to come from a humble perspective, recognize his expertise, and most important, accept criticism gracefully ;).
So after a short assessment, I learned that my arms tense up when they enter the water and that my fingers roll upwards right after entry. He mentioned that self-awareness is key to correcting my bad habits so he taught me proper entry first: relaxed and fingers pointing down. So, off I went for several more laps, but now armed with the new awareness. There was immediate improvement: I felt less winded, my arms (although somewhat sore from off-season inactivity) were less fatigued and I felt like I was gliding through the water.
I recognize though that it would definitely take time to convert these tweaks into habits. Coach Angelo suggested drills for me to do on my own, but was reminded that the key is just to practice, practice and practice.
I’m a self-taught swimmer. When I first started I couldn’t get to the other end of the pool without being winded halfway across. Through online instructions and a little bit of pool time, I’ve managed to put together a half-decent swim stroke, decent enough to get me through half-ironman, though in not so spectacular times. I was happy to prod along, just to finish the swim portion of a triathlon race.
Thus, when an opportunity to receive some coaching instructions presented itself, even if for just one session, from Coach Lozada, yes the famed Bert Lozada swim school, I jumped all over it.
The session was a revelation. I knew I was doing some little things wrong but I didn’t know what and how to fix it. With a few trips down the pool lane, Coach Lozada was immediately able to identify some key flaws in my stroke.
He showed me using a video recording of my stroke. It’s quite humbling, and almost embarrassing, to watch myself swim. There is an enormous gap between what I feel I’m doing and what I’m actually doing. Needless to say, what I’m doing didn’t look very pretty.
My left hand entry, though smoother than the other side, was too much over my head, crossing over to the right hemisphere line of my body. The right hand entry was choppy and created a lot of drag; it resembled an axe chopping wood. Finally, my kicks was underutilized as they just dragged along for the ride.
To fix these three key flaws, he instructed me to do “brush up” drills – dragging my fingertips through the water in the recovery phase into a soft but extended hand entry in line above my shoulders (instead of over my head). He also told me to continuously kick throughout the stroke, first at a full effort, then at 70% using. Two simple things but what a difference they make.
At first all that kicking was awkward and tiring as I am accustomed to using a two beat kick (one kick per stroke). Then in the middle of a set of 10 x 100m, I found my rhythm – it suddenly felt easier. Despite not having swam since August of last year, I was able to swim the 100s in around 1:45 leaving at 2:00 without busting my lungs.
I am now excited to get back in the pool to work on these drills. With some hard work, I’m sure it will result in even more improvement. It comes at the right time too, as I will be participating in Challenge Philippines in a little over month.
Thank you Coach Lozada. I eagerly await the next follow up session.
What proper catch up drill can do? It lowered down my swim strokes from 35 to 16 in a 25m lap pool in less than 2 hours of lesson, that’s what!
Aside from lowering down my stroke count, my usual 1min and 10 sec time in a 50m lap pool was cut down to 50-55s without being so spent! Amazing how some simple stroke correction can do! Couldn’t be any happier than that!
Coach Lozada! Thank you!
Are you a self-taught swimmer like us? Or have you ever wanted to learn swimming? Then I would suggest you try to look for a swim coach, it’s really different when someone who is more knowledgeable and who knows the proper technique is watching over you to make sure you’re doing it correctly.
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