How is your technique?
Updated: Apr 14
Sink or swim
I’m a water baby. I grew up by the sea and spent summers in the water! When I was 7 or 8, I was taken to swimming classes at a pool. At the beginning of the first lesson the instructor told us to ‘jump in’. I did. I couldn’t swim. And, I was out of my depth. I had to be pulled out and I have a vague memory of coughing and spluttering as I recovered. I didn’t continue with those lessons. Amazingly I didn't develop a fear of water. It certainly didn’t deter me from going into the sea, or a pool. I can remember doing water safety classes in the sea and I continued to ‘swim’, albeit without any technique. However, I was always afraid of being in out of my depth.
Fast forward to the year 2000. I backpacked through Thailand and Malaysia on my way to Australia. I didn’t dare try diving. Snorkelling, once I got into the water, was manageable. So, when I started living in Sydney, I decided it was time to get swimming lessons. I needed a swim coach to help me improve.
I can still vividly recall the first time the coach showed me how to breathe while doing the front crawl. I put my head in the water and I was able to breathe out. It was one of the biggest light-bulb moments of my life. I was so blown away that it was that easy. Why didn’t I know this already? I had been doing the front crawl for years with my head above water – never really getting anywhere but enjoying it all the same.
From strength to strength
As I became a more competent swimmer, I gained confidence. In 2012 I joined Dublin Swimming Club and took part in the summer sea-swimming season. There were about 60 women competing and in the first race I was one of the last to finish. In the next race the water was so cold and there were jellyfish everywhere. I think that those conditions provided an extra incentive to swim even faster and I finished somewhere in the middle.
What a feeling
In 2013 I went on a Swim-trek holiday took part in a 5km swim one morning. What a feeling! Swimming forces you to be present. You need to be fully alert. Especially sea swimming. You need to be mindful of the potential dangers lurking everywhere - waves, currents, jellyfish, boats and other swimmers.
Out of my depth
I’ve had my fair share of swimming in the deep-end at work. I swam. I swam well. I swam against the tide. I treaded water. I was in over my head. I began to recognise when my ‘technique’ was off and found people to help me to breathe properly again. I also became someone that others came to when their ‘technique’ felt off and I helped them recover and swim confidently in the deep-end.