The internet has been a great source of information during the early stages of my triathlon journey. I was beginning to think, however, that my swim technique would plateau if YouTube continued to be my only source of advice.
Ultimately, I thought, there was probably no substitute for a real-life coach standing on the poolside correcting my bad habits and fine tuning my stroke.
So, a few weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge (sorry) and get a professional on the job. I’d seen several teachers at my local pool but they were, in the main, young enough to be my children. I really wanted someone let’s say, more my age profile. I’d seen Hilary* teaching another adult and noticed how engaged and enthusiastic she was with them. What’s more there was actual laughter going on. It looked like the lesson might even turn out to be fun!
3 lessons of swim technique in and I can safely say that having some teaching has been well worth the money and something I’d recommend to other novice tri girls.
What have I learned so far? Firstly, my front crawl is much improved and Hilary has taught me a breathing technique that works better for me. Secondly, I’ve learned the basics of backstroke which I’d never attempted before and which I’ve enjoyed as it helps to break up my training sessions. Finally, I can see the benefits of the kickboard for improving leg strength. Though I swear I’ve been lapped before now as I chug doggedly up and down the pool with it.
I wasn’t sure how old Hilary was and wasn’t going to ask. However in our last lesson she told me that she’s an incredible 64 this year and still loving her job.
She is fit and wiry and plops effortlessly into the pool once my lesson is over and cranks out 100 lengths – what a great role model. Her enthusiasm is infectious. She is thrilled by even the smallest improvements in my swim technique or timings which has been a welcome boost for me when confidence in the pool has been at a low ebb.
Finally, as a girl who likes a plan to stick to, I’ve chosen a training programme to follow over the next 13 weeks. Trigirl has a great section on training which is especially good for newbies so I checked out all their suggestions, settling on one from the Beginner Triathlete website.
I was encouraged by the fact that the person who wrote this plan said it was originally done for their 59 year old mother who was doing her first triathlon. Surely this was doable for me too. I also loved their efforts to manage the expectations of the novice triathlete:
“You can go as slow as you want. This is your first triathlon, and the goal is to just finish and to HAVE FUN!!!”.
I’ll second that.
note: *Hilary York is a teacher with Swimtime