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My life as a suckermouth

Suckermouth2After my last training session with Susanne I now believe in reincarnation! I’ve made this amazing discovery about my previous life… I used to be a Loricariid fish. You know – those flat guys usually seen grazing on pebbles or on the sides of the bowl. I’m sure I used to be one of them! I used to be a suckermouth! For there I went… right to the bottom of the bloody pool!

Besides a progressively bigger mileage, much of my training right now is about improving my efficiency. This time Susanne and I had planned to work on my feeling of the water in order to optimize my floating. It all sounded very sensible, and Susanne had prepared a few drills she normally does with beginners. A kind of “back to basics” training session for me. But the results turned out to be anything but what we expected. I may be able to swim for hours at quite a reasonable pace, but when it comes to floating, I’m a real disaster!

imageWe tried one drill after the other. On the front, on the back, on the side… As soon as I stopped using my legs, my core switched off and my body was compellingly attracted by the bottom of the pool. With beginners it doesn’t take Susanne very long to teach them the rainbow drill. A few minutes and they start “flying” through the pool from one end to the other in no time. As for me, even after hours of trying, I still sink to the bottom before I even reach the flag line after kicking off the wall. The more I relax, the more elegantly I sink. It’s quite frustrating! But there is something special and quite cozy about lying on the bottom. Everything is so quiet and peaceful down there. There is no one to bother you and you really learn to control your exhalation. I’m sure it’s not a complete loss. It’s floating that’s overrated! 😉

Anyway, this training session with Susanne was a lot of fun – and a real challenge! It gave me an interesting break from my daily routine. As always I was eager to share my experience with Thomas. So I showed him the drills the very next day. It took him no more than a few seconds to catch the feeling and “rainbow” his way to the other end of the pool. As for me, I stranded gracefully about 1,5 m from the wall. Thomas could see it took a heavy toll on my confidence, so he did his best to hearten me – “Your runner’s legs are so strong they probably can’t float anymore”. Thanks, buddy! Nice try! I know I have a devoted friend in you. But my lead-loaded legs are not stronger than the 999,999,999 other swimmers’ legs, hanging effortlessly on top of the water. There is a whole world of delicately floating swimmers out there and then there is me, the suckermouth browsing at the very bottom of the bowl…

Nevertheless floating is essential, all the more in marathon swimming. There is a lot of energy for me to save by floating more naturally. So I have no choice but to include dedicated drills in my training programme. Next time you come by the local swimming pool, if you can’t see me swimming up and down the lane, take a look at the bottom. Chances are you’ll find me down there, practising my floating skills…


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