Archive for August, 2013

Yesterday I wrote about what it took to get back into the pool.the next step was to get back to actual training. Like many things, it’s far more productive to have someone telling you what to do, to push you further that you will on your own, and to pick up things that you might not notice yourself.

Lately the 4SEASons coaches had devised a plan for something different – a Sunday long session solely dedicated to specific technique training.

I emailed in advance to check on whether they thought it would be possible for me to do the session, and to make sure that I wouldn’t be disruptive to other people doing the session. Luckily, I have some of the most awesome coaches in the world and they assured me it would all work and encouraged me to come along.

The session was on a sunny but chilly Sunday morning. The session was held at the brand-spanking-new Prince Alfred Park pool, which I have to say is a pretty nice pool with great facilities…and has free entry until the 12th of November.

I had to switch out a couple of the drills, but it did give me the opportunity to play with one of my favourite pieces of kit – hand paddles.

I love training with hand paddles, and they are the perfect piece of kit for winter. There are two benefits to training with paddles. The first is that they increase the surface area of your hands, and therefore increase the resistance against the water. This is good for building extra strength in your arms…and feeling like you’re swimming really fast!

The second use of paddles is what I was focussing on during the technique day. They really exaggerate any technical flaws in your stroke. For example, if your hand entry isn’t fingers first, if it’s out by a little bit (think like making a “stop” signal with your hand” you’ll know about it…from the bottom edge of the paddles catching and kicking up water. The idea of the paddles is to help identify these little flaws, and to practice and embed the correct behaviours for a bit before taking them off. I certainly found myself with a couple of things to focus on about my hand entry.

Another thing that was great about the longer session, and running it on a Sunday (rather than racing against the clock of when the pool is closing on a weeknight) was that once we had finished the technique session, we took the time to do a 1km swim, no pressure around speed or times, just focussing on excellent technique and embedding the things we had learned at the session.

Then we had lunch and coffee at the cute little cafe there at the pool in the sun! It really was so nice to be back training, to be back hanging out with swimming friends, and to be able to enjoy a post swim coffee!

How soon can you get back into the pool after breaking your ankle?

I didn’t know the answer, so I did what anyone would do. I Googled it. As often happens with these things, I came away more confused than ever.

Then I did what a grown-up would do, and asked my doctor. I was treated at the Prince of Wales fracture clinic and my first appointment was 10 days after the accident. at that point, the doctor looked dubious, but I explained what I had in mind and received tentative approval. That was enough for me.

Seems, though, that being allowed to swim was one thing, and being able to…

  1. Get to the pool
  2. Get into the pool
  3. Get out of the pool
  4. Get home from the pool

…was another thing entirely.

Let’s just say it took me a little longer than I’d hoped to actually get in the pool. Finally, though, the lovely Sonja who swims and lives in my apartment complex agreed to help me out. Luckily we have a 25m lap pool in our complex so we had somewhere to go.

The process was not too bad, with the assistance of a helper. it went something like this.

  • I made it to the pool on my crutches, then used a seat there to get ready.
  • I used the crutches to get to the side of the pool then removed the orthopaedic boot and pressure bandage
  • Pivot around and slide into the pool, making sure to land on only my good foot.
  • Position a pull-buoy with a band around my calves to immobilise my legs
  • Kick-off…one-legged of course. Swim using upper body only, with the pull-buoy to balance out body position.
  • Finish swimming and do pretty much the lot in reverse…but with a seriously unglamorous exit out of the pool.

It’s wasn’t pretty, but it worked. I managed several of these swims in the first couple of weeks, with the help of some very generous and beautiful friends. It’s not the same as the ocean, but during those weeks of working from home and not getting off my couch for very much at all, it certainly kept me sane.

Hello Again

Goodness, things got quiet around here, didn’t they?

Sorry about that.

I had the best of intentions, really I did. I was going to totally make the best of a bad situation and find some way to make the whole broken-ankle thing a theme here and keep to regular programming. Seems actual real-life recovery from an injury like that is far more, well, exhausting than I had possibly imagined. Plus I may not quite have counted on the fact that I am in complete denial about the fact that I’m no longer 18 years old and bounce back from things with my super-human healing abilities. Seems it was bloody hard work. Still kind of is bloody hard work.

So what’s been happening with me? Well, here’s the cliff-notes version….


  1. 10 days, crutches, no pressure (did you know crutches can hurt more than the injury they’re supporting?)
  2. 3 weeks-ish, crutches, orthopaedic boot – allowed to put the boot on the ground. Explored the work-from-home thing to the point where I absolutely understood the limitations of sitting in the same spot for far too many hours a day, and not seeing anywhere near enough other live people.
  3. A bit of a 3-week transition where I weaned off the crutches to just the boot. Starting with short distances on flat surfaces.
  4. Just when I got the hang of that, it was time to take the boot off. Yay!
  5. Except everything else goes to hell after 6-7 weeks of inactivity. My left calf is vastly smaller than the right one, I have almost no range of motion in the ankle, and less strength. I’m back to pathetic limping and develop a love/hate relationship with the boot.
  6. 3 days later (sadly, not my shortest love/hate relationship ever) – end up part of a research study on this type of injury. Start seeing a lot of my new best friend – my physio Kerri. She gives me some tough love and tells me I have to ditch the boot.
  7. They give me a tick-sheet to track how I go with the physio exercises. It totally taps into my motivators and I do everything I’m asked religiously for about 10 days. Results are stellar.
  8. The crutches, boot, limping, extended working from home, weight-gain from lack of activity, and general lack of symmetry in my life lead to a secondary-effect…and I throw my back out. Badly. Luckily, my Osteo is a genius.
  9. last week or so? Getting the dreaded limp down to a minimum, rebuilding wasted muscles and spending an inordinate amount of time pretending to write the alphabet with my foot.

So where am I now? If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t notice the slight limp. The muscles are getting there and I can put on a pair of pants without sitting down. Stairs are not the daunting obstacle they were, and I can see myself starting to do things without thinking about them again. I’m at about 90% mobility and strength, and it only hurts a little bit a little of the time.  All the experts agree I should get back to 100% of what I was, with no ill-effects, and it shouldn’t be too far off. Good news all-round, really.

As for swimming?

Well, I’m getting back to the swing of things around here, so I might save that so I have something to write about tomorrow! Sorry for the cliff-hanger!

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