As soon as I nervously approached the side of the pool where the group from Hillingdon Triathletes were gathering, sheets of paper were thrust into my hands. "Ah, a welcome pack", I thought. On closer inspection, I noticed that in fact, before I'd even completed a minute of training, I was holding details of the next lot of races! This turned my fear level up a notch. I wasn't ready to race yet!
As the coach lead me to the not-so-scary lane 3 (the lanes increase in difficulty, 1 for beginner swimmers, up to 8 where the pros live), I was reassured that just turning up was the hard part. Watching everyone jump in and bomb up and down the pool just for a warm up, I wasn't convinced.
Luckily, I shared a lane with just one other person who was kind enough to show me the ropes as we started our first lot of drills – 3 x 150m (6 lengths) with 4-5 seconds rest between each set, which would be "plenty of rest"(!!!). Amazingly, I managed to cope quite well. Possibly a little too well – after the first drill, I found myself waiting around for everyone else to finish. Convinced I must have miscounted lengths, I didn't even have time to protest before I was ordered to go into lane 5 ready to start some sprint training.
|I may have found an excuse to upgrade to this Speedo swimsuit!|
Lining up behind the seven other people in my new lane, I just hoped that I wouldn't fall behind too much. They were all used to going at this pace as regulars at the club and I'd not sprinted in a pool for years! The pace was fast but I managed to keep up, even on set five when I thought I may throw up – please don't let me be 'that' girl! – I kept up with them.
We worked on improving our arm technique – getting high elbows above the water and a long reach for the pull. It was great to have coaching on technique and I immediately felt the benefits as I almost glided through the water. It also dawned on me that the drills we did previously – one arm held out for 12 kicks, pull with just arms, then hold the other arm stretched out – all built up to improving technique. Rather than considering them as simple strengthening exercises that focus on arms or legs, I realised that you can learn from these sets too.
I actually really enjoyed the session. The whole team seemed friendly and welcoming, and I felt that just a bit of coaching could help me go a long way.