Zipperskate - So Which Side is Vanilla?
Swimming this evening while my daughter was having her lesson (she got the badge!), I did a couple of hundred metres, and then thought I’d better get some practice in with my Total Immersion drills. My free style’s really coming together now, but only with breathing to the right. Breathing to the left is still pretty crumby. It’s the old ‘chocolate Vs vanilla side’ problem.
While I was sorting my nose clip out (I wear this for drills - sensitive sinuses), I watched two other swimmers in the lane. One was working really hard, but failing to keep his body long & level, simply wind-milling his arms, and definitely not switching the leading arm. Every time he breathed, there was a huge effort to lift his head ( . . . and shoulders) out of the water, accompanied by a visible pause in his forward progress.
The other was moving through the water like a fish. Calmly bringing the trailing hand up the side of her body, and then slicing it in right by her goggles, rolling to breathe every 3rd of 4th stroke (interesting - not sticking to an “I breathe on the third stroke” rhythm, but breathing when she needed to), keeping her body and legs level just below the surface, and her forward arm waiting for the recovering hand to catch up, before a very visible switch & roll. She was making hardly a ripple, and really motoring along.
Well you can just guess which one I’d like to be able to emulate!
I’ve found the zipperskate drill (shown here on the Total Immersion Swiss site) particularly useful in sorting out my breathing to the right, so I decided to do a few lengths of this, interspersed with full stroke, but only breathing to the left.
After ten minutes or so of this, by accident I set off on a length of zipperskate breathing to the right - my supposed ‘chocolate’ side. I didn’t realise what I’d done. All I saw was that for some reason I’d turned from a ‘floater’ into a ’sinker’. At the end of the length, I realised what had happened, and experienced a momentary panic - had I messed up my right hand only freestyle?
A quick length of full stroke showed this was not the case - everything was working just fine. No sinking, easy strokes, no sense of having to struggle to the surface (or beyond) to breathe.
Swimming back the other way I tried breathing to the left . . . still no good. But now there’s a light at the end of the tunnel - I know that in the drills, I’m getting to the point where I struggle to tell which is left and which is right. That’s just got to be a good sign.