Category: pool


You can read Part 1 of this story before continuing along here….

The TLDR version is:

  • 4 teams
  • 60 swimmers
  • 24 hours
  • Themes, costumes, crafts and colours….

Fast forward to the day before the event. I was riding my bike to work, as usual, via my usual route. Half way to work it started raining, and well, wet road, corner, next thing I knew I was on the ground. Pretty minor. People stopped to help and put me on a chair while I checked out my skinned knee. I felt pretty fine, though, and the bike started. Pretty much a non-event so I hopped back on the bike and headed off.

And then I went to change gears. For those of you who don’t ride, you change gears with your right foot. One click down into first, then 4 clicks up for the next 4 gears. I was fine in first, but when I went to change to second gear, something felt pretty wrong. I realised there was no way I’d be able to park and walk the 5 mins to my office, so when I hit the point I usually turn left into my parking spot, I turned right instead…a road that took me to the back entrance of the Sydney Eye hospital emergency room.

9am on a Friday morning is a pretty good time to go to the emergency room, apparently, they had me straight in, no waiting. Examination and X-rays. I was trying very hard to believe that it wasn’t that bad, that it would pass, that I was just exaggerating things.

Apparently not. The X-rays came back with the bad news. One fractured ankle. Absolutely no swimming for me. This was the point at which I started crying.

20130622-112906.jpgTerrible luck, terrible timing. I posted , quite optimistically at the time, with intentions of liveblogging the Megaswim (spoiler alert – didn’t happen). One of our team captains, Bel, called me about some last minute Megaswim planning while I was still in the emergency room waiting on my moon boot and crutches. We had kept a list of backup swimmers (an essential part of planning an event like that) and she was soon onto the case of finding someone to fill my swimming shifts. Lucky for me, because they soon drugged me up to the eyeballs, wrapped and booted me, gave me prescriptions, a referral to the fracture clinic, crutch-lessons, and instructions to put no weight on my ankle at all, then sent me home. I immediately passed out from the effort of getting there (crutches are a major workout) and the painkillers and wouldn’t have been much good to anyone.

So there’s my tale of woe. Even the best laid plans can be thrown out at the last minute. And this sure threw out my plans.

Luckily, the universe, and that event in particular, did not actually revolve around me and my participation. The Megaswim went ahead as planned…..

Watch this space for part 3.

 

“From little things, big things grow”.

It’s a very Australian lyric, and a very Australian sentiment.

I’m not at all suggesting that what we did compares, but in terms of things I’ve done in my little life, the Megaswim ranks up there as a pretty amazing thing that I’m very, very proud of.

The background…last year, my sister (who swims well but mostly on her own) sent me a link with an idea. A 24 hour pool-swimming relay event and fundraiser for MS.

I tapped into social networking and we soon fielded a team of 15 fellow swimmers and the challenge was on.
By the end of last year’s event, the following statements were all true:

  1. We were all exhausted
  2. We had all had an amazingly excellent and truly fun time.
  3. We all knew each other a bit better than we had at the start (well, apart from me and my sister…that’d be a tough call)
  4. We all wanted to do it again next year.
  5. There was a crazy idea floated, that took hold amongst a heady atmosphere of sleep-deprivation, chlorine and nespresso….4SEASons=4 teams.

Fast forward to 2013 and the crazy ideas started to run into a reality. Coaches Zoe and Kingy were on board and Bel May threw her experienced Can Too captain’s hat in the ring so we have 4 team captains for 4 teams. Deep breaths and fingers crossed we’d get enough people to cover the relay for the whole time!

Once again, social media was integral and we signed up the maximum 60 swimmers: 15 per team. My personal (albeit ancient) experience in scheduling was pushed to its limits and we figured out some teams and mini-teams to ensure everyone shared the load, worked around their commitments, and generally got to swim with their good friends and loved ones.

One aspect that’s often overlooked, but is nonetheless a huge part of the Megaswim experience is the highly prestigious “Best Dressed Team” competition. WE organised a craft day prior to the big event to work on decorations and costumes, and discovered some fantastically talented people with skills we never knew about. Big shout-out to Chrissie, who conceived of the costumes, sourced the materials, and pretty much ran the show. My big talent in the area of arts and crafts was bringing my mum along!

The craft day was a big success, complete with catering and post-crafty wines at Gloria’s place!

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We were all completely set for the big event. What could possibly go wrong?

I blame the drugs.

I cannot believe I haven’t posted about the Megaswim here!!!!

In my defense I did break my ankle the day before the event and I was on some pretty heavy-duty painkillers for the duration.

I even actually started writing the review of the event, but for some reason put it in a word document on my work laptop (drugs!). The reason for that escapes me now, but I imagine it had something to do with the drugs. I think somewhere in my head I actually thought I’d written all about it.

I have a low tolerance for these things. Clearly.

So, we can all pretend it’s a week after the megaswim, not months, right? Right? It was too good not to write about!

Watch this space…

Water Babies!

Water Babies!

These two cuties are my nieces. I think it’s fair to say I can safely assume they share my love of being in the water!

I made it back to a pool session this week for the first time in a few weeks. Work and illness and a birthday got in the way for a couple of weeks, so it’s the first time in a while I’ve done an endurance set.

I felt as though I was doing pretty well. I got a bit excited when I was moved out of the slow lane after a few laps, that maybe magically I’d been promoted to the fast lane. Til I recognised swimmers the next lane over and realised we had expanded into 3 lanes and I’d been promoted to the medium lane.

Based on my Garmin results (did I mention I’ve upgraded to the 910?) , though my times are pretty dismal at the moment. The whole broken-ankle hiatus, and general slackness in getting back into it on my part have really left me coming into the new season well off my peak form. The geek in me loves the Garmin, but my self-deluding side hates it as there’s no lying to yourself in the face of all that measured data.

There are a couple of things that I think might help get me back there, though, so I’m trying not to get too depressed.

  1. I had my final physio appointment earlier on Tuesday. I have been cleared for all activities, including starting to jog, even on sand. Guess I no longer have any excuse for skipping the hard part of those ramps sessions.
  2. Daylight savings! This changes a lot of things – later opening hours for pools, and opportunities for after-work swims!
  3. Spring training timetable changes. 4SEASons October pool sessions will be on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from next week, instead of just Tuesdays. My chances of getting back to a minimum of 3 swim sessions a week just got a whole lot better.
  4. It’s only a few weeks until the first couple of ocean swims of the season. Nothing motivates like a looming deadline!

Let Operation get-Jacki’s-lazy-butt-back-into-shape begin!

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this!

After operation return to swimming got me back into the pool, and back to 4SEASons, part 3 consisted of a couple of Tuesday night regular 4SEASons session in the pool.

I continued to swim with the pull-buoy and band and with a bit of an assist to get in and out of the pool. Stock standard.

Then finally, after 7 weeks a follow-up x-ray and yet another visit to the fracture clinic…the good news was in: I could take the bloody orthopaedic boot off!

Unfortunately, there was still much work to be done to get enough strength, flexibility and stability back. The idea of walking on soft sand was pretty unthinkable for a while yet. I would have to be patient.

Then finally 2 weeks ago, after lots and lots of physio and exercise, it was time!

Part 4 of my return to swimming has involved getting back to my beloved Bondi beach and swimming in the ocean!

I have to admit I’ve chickened out and worn my wetsuit – the extra buoyancy (in my mind, at least) reduces the chance of coming down hard on the ankle. I’m still not up to running, let alone running on soft sand, and I lean on my lovely swimming friends as we head down the beach, just in case….

I’m not quite there yet, and I’ve obviously lost a bit of condition and fitness, but I’m back at the beach, baby, and loving it!

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.

Well, the good news is that my flu has gone.

The bad news is that I’m a clutz and a possible danger to myself.

So yesterday (the day before the MS Megaswim) this happened:

20130622-112906.jpg

A seemingly minor drop off my bike on a wet road turned out to be a broken ankle. Far out.

It totally sucks and is atrocious timing.

There might be a slight change of focus here for a few weeks, but this weekend I’m choosing to see it is freeing me up to get carried away live blogging the MS Megaswim.

Stick around, join the conversation, and requests will be considered, if you drop them in the comments.

After that, well, swimming as rehab? Dry land training and upper body strength building for swimmers? Guess I’ll have to get a bit creative. Wish me luck (and a speedy recovery).

Ah Wednesday night technique sets. Nothing gives me more insight into what I’m doing to make things more difficult for myself. Luckily there’s also nothing wrong with the idea of getting faster, or better, or being able to swim further with no extra input of energy.

This Wednesday we were focussing on kicking.

I don’t know if I’ve done much on here about kicking. As a general rule, in endurance swimming, kicking isn’t a major component of our swim technique. If you watch shorter distance sprinters swim, you’ll see some crazy 6- and 8-beat kick rhythms that really are part of propelling the swimmer through the water. With endurance event, though, we tend to aim for a 2-beat kick. The reason for this, as I understand it, is that the muscles we use in our legs to kick are large, and therefore use a lot of energy compared to the amount of propulsion you get in return. Your arms, in contrast, have a much better return on investment of energy. In a sprint this is OK, but for endurance events, it just means you wear out quicker.

That being said, bad kicking technique can have implications for other parts of your stroke. And I stand up and am the first to admit that I have bad kick technique.

In fact, I use the photo below as my Facebook cover photo. It’s a great photo, which is why I use it, but I have to confess that every time I look at it I cringe a little at my bent knee…I’ve added lines in to show what I’m talking about….

knee bend

Ideally, that knee should be pretty much straight. More like the lovely example below…

Much Better

The good news is, that there are some really good drills you can do to work on your kick. We did one before we even got in the water. There was a set of stairs leading up from the pool to the grassed sitting area, and we did some practice of good kicking technique with one leg standing on the step sideways, and the other swinging clear. This was great for the coaches to be able to check technique and for us to feel what good kicking feels like (engaging the glutes!).

We did various other drills in the pool using fins, and focussing on pointing our toes and not bending our knees. I did feel like it really helped improve my kicking technique (although it will take some time to embed that as a good habit), and as an added bonus, I found that the improved kick helped with my biggest technical challenge -my body position in the water. I tend to have to fight very hard to keep my legs and lower body from sinking down below the surface, and therefore creating unnecessary drag. Working on my kick noticeably improved that, so it’s doubly useful!

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