All of last year I managed a little niggle in my left shoulder. I’d changed my stroke quite a lot which had made it better….and I did a serious amount of mileage last year which was really promising, but needless to say there is still a little niggle there and it needs to not be. A little while ago I posted a video on facebook of my stroke, asking who can fix my shonky left shoulder, one of the replies was from channel swimming legend, Sal Minty Gravett; “Come to Jersey, I can help”.
I am very very keen to take all the advice on board I can and give myself the best shot at the channel. When the person offering has swum the channel every decade for the last five, has a world record for the oldest England-France-England swim (in 36 hours!), countless other marathon swims including round Jersey (several times) , an MBE and is an indictee to the marathon swimmers hall of fame…that’s the kind of opportunity for advice you cant ignore! Cheap flights booked, long weekend in Jersey for a bonus swim camp it is!
Its extremely obvious with Sal, she lives, sleeps eats and breathes swimming. Every wall in her house is covered in super impressive swim tracks, world records, certificates and awards; pretty sure she has done it all! Had a great weekend of talking swimming, asking questions as well as three pool swims and three open water swims in 72 hours (and a bonus of squeezing in Jersey parkrun!)! The sea was a balmy 8 degrees there, I stayed in for ages! In the pool its extremely obvious she is a very talented swim teacher and gave me a lot of confidence and positive feedback as well as making some fairly subtle changes to my stroke.
Changing your stroke is difficult to do. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of repeated actions ingrain the movement in your muscle memory. Making your body remember and perform a subtle change to this movement is hard. The changes she made seemed quite small and the tips she gave me seemed to make it stick. Stroke count was down, and it felt powerful through the water. Time will tell if it helps the shoulder but I was certainly swimming a lot further per stroke…which is a good thing for the tens of thousands of strokes required to get to France!
All in all, an awesome opportunity, and a fantastic weekend…but now the hard work begins. Ingrain the tweaks into my muscle memory and make it second nature, force my body to make that the natural default movement when I’ve swum a long way, the mind is wandering and the body is exhausted. Now the work starts!