<![CDATA[ReadySetSweat! - Blog]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 09:14:47 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Living Like Each Day Is Your Last Is actually Kinda Boring...]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 15:26:06 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/living-like-each-day-is-your-last-is-actually-kinda-boring
A friend of mine and I start every discussion of interesting persons similar to how John Madden used to: "Here's a guy..."  .... WELL .... HERE'S A GUY you'e never heard of that is doing incredible things. Maarten van der Weijden. Who? There's an off chance you've heard that he's an Olympic gold medalist in the 10k open water swim. But he's much more than that.

First of all, Maarten is 6 feet, 8 inches tall. YES. SIX FEET EIGHT. I feel like we could almost stop right there. But we won't. This gentle giant was born in the Netherlands, and was a very successful swimmer there in his youth, but then was diagnosed with leukemia with a grim prognosis. He battled for his life for several years through chemotherapy and stem cell transplants, and after winning it back, he started training again. Over the next 5 years, Maarten became a world champion and a gold medalist in open water marathon swimming. Again, feel like we could stop right there? Not this guy. He then wrote a biography while balancing a finance career, then switched to motivational speaking and started organizing swims to benefit cancer research, one of which was 24 hours of nonstop swimming. How about we stop there? NOPE. Not done yet! 

These days, Maarten is planning on a wild and crazy event for swimming enthusiasts in the Netherlands. He is planning a benefit swim of 3 days of nonstop swimming for a total of 200 kilometers. TWO HUNDRED KILOMETERS. In this interview above, he says things like, "it's not about me showing that I can swim for three days, but for me to engage in as much swimming as I possibly can." He wants as many swimmers as possible to be able to join him for 500 meters or whatever they are able to do, in order to raise as much money as possible for cancer research. This guy is for real. 

The greatest thing that he says in this interview is that when he beat cancer, he vowed to live each day as if it was his last. Then he said he actually DID that for three days and became incredibly BORED. He found that setting and achieving goals was what made his life feel meaningful to him, not living day to day. 

More power to you, Maarten! Keep not stopping for as long as you live! We are proud of what you have accomplished and will continue to do!
<![CDATA[Debbie Downer: Wah-Wah-Wahhhhh.. Let's Have a Post-Goal Letdown Chat]]>Tue, 26 Sep 2017 13:39:24 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/debbie-downer-post-goal-letdown
You know that feeling after you've completed your huge goal for the year and you're on top of the world!? You have that medal and that shirt and you have the most wonderful week of laziness afterward basking in your awesome finish? And then... then... it creeps in. That little sadness about the fact that it's over. You start having thoughts like, "Is this normal? Am I depressed? Should I go see a shrink?"

First things first: YES, THIS IS TOTALLY NORMAL. Even if they don't talk about it or can't articulate it, most people do feel this somehow. It might range from that "now what!" sort of feeling to full on depression. Just know that almost everyone feels a little crash after a big event that they've been training for all season. 

What should be done about this? If things are really bad and it is affecting other areas of your life as well as your relationships... then taking it to the extreme first, let's go ahead and get the elephant out of the room: there is NOTHING wrong with talking to a professional about things. We go to different doctors about the rest of our health, why should we neglect our brain? I'm of the opinion that talking to someone with some tools is always a good thing. I can't clean my own teeth; I need the professional who has the scrapy thing to do that. It can be the same for the mind. Do not let our freaky fake society fool you into thinking that head doctoring is for the weak. It is for the strong. You don't get strong teeth by avoiding the dentist.

Assuming it's not a full-on depression that is affecting other areas of your life... what a lot of people do is plan another event so that they don't feel the letdown. This is sort of a "substitution solution," if you will, and this solution does get at part of the problem, which is that we want another goal to replace that big goal we had for so long. This can work. In fact, this works and works and works; we can live our entire lives setting and achieving bigger and bigger goals, and no doubt that is a productive and noteworthy way to live. It definitely works.

BUT. Does it solve the problem?

Well, what IS the problem?

The problem is that at our core, we all wrestle with the question of "Who am I now that I'm not training for X?" This is a bigger question of identity and might take some thought.

If you're not offended by now with the idea that I've just suggested that you might not know who you are, don't give up on reading yet. (Now you're thinking... "Sheesh, I didn't know this post was going to be so annoying. I was looking for something funny and maybe even an energy bar recipe." If this is you, I urge you, stay with me! We are going somewhere here!)

When it comes down to it, our identity is best NOT based in who we are in terms of sport ("I am a swimmer" "I am a triathlete") or even who we are are relationally or professionally ("I am a father." "I am a real estate investor")  While those labels are kinda valid, they are based in an ability to do or be a thing, and we may not always have that ability. What if we get hit by a truck and can no longer use our arms and legs? What if we lose our job or our children or our spouse? We might not be able to be or do those things, and who are we then?

The rub is that we have to carve our identity out of something eternal that lasts.

This is a good time to ponder what is eternal about you? What is it about you and your life that lasts? Even if you build a legacy of money or a nonprofit that helps people someday after you are gone,can we be sure that it will last? If not, what else lasts? Does anything last?

This is a question that only you can answer for yourself.

You may not care about my answer to this, but I'm gonna give it to you anyway, since you've stuck with me thus far in this thing and you haven't sent me hate email yet. (YET!). My answer is that my identity is found in being a child of God adopted into his family through Jesus.

Yours might be something different.

Now is a good time to think about these things, and what better time than when you have all this free time!? 

p.s. here's that energy bar recipe. https://minimalistbaker.com/healthy-5-ingredient-granola-bars/
<![CDATA[tAPER wEEK: Y'ALL gONNA mAKE mE lOSE mY mIND, uP IN hERE, uP IN hERE]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 19:24:36 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/taper-week-yall-gonna-make-me-lose-my-mind-up-in-here-up-in-here
Oh, the joys of Taper Week! What fun, what glorious sleeping in and having free time after work fun! You've worked hard for this big race that you've been planning all year, but now in the last day or two you are feeling grouchy and sluggish. What's an endurance gangsta to do?

Well, first, enjoy yourself. That's right, dangit! Enjoy the fact that you have a little extra energy. Here are a couple of ideas on what to do with all of that time.

Sit on the couch tonight and think about who in your friends and family list might like to hear from you. Send some texts or call people you've been meaning to get in touch with for a long time. Sometimes that extra boost of morale from your long-lost homies can mean a lot when you are slogging through those boring miles when you're neither near the start nor the finish on race day. What about writing an actual LETTER (I know, so 1993) to someone or going to the dollar store and buying like 5 or 10 cards and sending them to older people you know? What about even getting your Christmas cards ordered? See, the sitting-down options for contacting friends and family are endless.

What about thinking about who around your neighborhood or contacts could use some help doing things after your season of training is over? Do you know a young couple you could babysit for so that they could go out on a cheaper date? Is there someone that could use some help cleaning out their garage or taking out that tree in their back yard? This week is a good time to turn on the eardrums and start stealthily thinking of places where you can surprise someone with a little help. 

Think up things you are going to do during your recovery week(s) after the race. House projects? Going to the store and getting all the weird fruits and nuts for those energy bar recipes? What about giving your sig other a two or three day break who's been supporting you all these months? Send him/her off on a girls/guys weekend or a weekend to themselves at the beach. If cost is an issue, what about you go to visit family and leave them home at the house with some pizzas and Netflix!?

Well, there you have it! Some ideas to do with yourself while you rest. This is all assuming you've gone through your race day packing checklist and packed your stuff already. Oh, you haven't done that yet? Good thing you have plenty of time.
<![CDATA[What Goes Through a Race Director/Athlete's Mind About the Weather on Race Day...]]>Thu, 14 Sep 2017 13:39:13 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/what-goes-through-a-race-directorathletes-mind-about-the-weather-on-race-day
This is a short chronology of the thoughts that go through a race director's or athlete's mind when they have a big race coming up.

"Well, we're about 2 weeks out. I think I'll go ahead and check the weather and see if they know what it might be like on race day ((pulls up weather app and local station forecast)). Hmm. Looks pretty good for now. I know it will change, so I'll keep checking it, you know, occasionally. I probably shouldn't check it obsessively, though, because that would be, like, weird or something." 

-- approximately 1 hour later - ....

"I'm here at the bank in line, so maybe I'll check again and see how it's doing. Hmm. Still looking ok. I won't check again for a few days, though, because everyone knows that checking it too much is bad luck and I should definitely not check it again today."

-- at 1 hour intervals until four days out from the race - ....

"Loo-lee-loo, just checking again. Just seeing what it's doing, nooooo rush, nooooo pressure, just seeing what it's doing. Not creating bad luck, NOOOOOT creating bad luckkkkk ((waves arms around to disperse the bad luck)). Bad luck go away, gooooo awayyyyyyy."

-- three days out - ....

"HOLLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE FREEEEEEEEEEEEEKIN CRAPPPPPPPP ON A BISCUIT WITH TOAST AND JAM AND HASH BROWNS ON THE SIDE! They are calling for 87 degrees and sunny on race day!!!!! ((Does happy Pharrell Williams dance in pajamas and bathrobe in kitchen, notices neighbor standing in driveway looking at them holding dog on leash, and stops dancing, goes back to standing normally and not being weird, like, at all. Strolls nonchalantly into bathroom, slowly closes door and recommences happy dance.))

-- two days out -- 

"Checkity checkity. Still looks good! No big deal since I'm here in the grocery line with nothing to do. You know, though, I hope I'm not jinxing myself by checking this so much. I'm not superstitious but maybe jinxing is a thing. Yes, I'm definitely checking it too much. I should definitely stop checking the weather."

-- 1 hour later - ....

"I saw a cloud so it could conceivably have changed so I'm just, you know, verifying. Still looks good., though. Jinxing is SO not a thing. Superstitious and obsessive people are crazy people. I, however, am normal and I probably won't check again until the night before the race."

-- 1 hour later - ....

"Still looks good. I'm definitely not checking again, though, because that would most certainly be the mark of a crazy person."

-- 15 minutes later - .....

"Ok this is the last time. Seriously. I promise."
<![CDATA[Motiva-shun, whuttt?]]>Tue, 05 Sep 2017 20:32:58 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/motiva-shun-whuttt
photo: Olivier Leroy as shown on his website as https://www.yourswimlog.com/about/
One of the most-watched evahhhh Ted Talks is by Mel Robbins - have you seen it? It is called How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over. :D Ha ha! What a title! She sure caught some eyes with that one! Maybe that's why it is one of the top watched talks out there?! 

Here it is. You may want to stop and watch it now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp7E973zozc 

It's pretty hilarious, right? Pretty great. Pretty convicting. Pretty aggravating. Pretty annoying. In other words, pretty hard words to hear when we want to be motivated all of the time, huh?! 

Cliffs Notes version: What Mel is essentially saying in this video is that the concept of motivation is crap, and that the main foolproof action you should take to get what you want in your pursuit of your goals is to just start doing things that you say that you will. It's funny, because I've always said this, but didn't know I was saying something all that special! Not the part about motivation being crap, but the part about how to get things done is to start doing what you say that you will, and day after day you start building trust in yourself. Once you trust yourself to do what you say you will do, you basically graduate from asking yourself whether you feel like it or not to simply doing things because you said you would do them. You start doing things without a single thought of whether you are motivated or not. 

Maybe I should quit my job and go be Mel Robbins. Hmmm. Nope. Not happening. Love this job too much. Anyway!

Another great person, former really fast competitive swimmer, and swim motivator and goal coach Olivier Leroy (you can sign up for his awesome newsletter here) recently sent out a blog that talks about this also. And you know what word he gives to "doing things when you don't feel like doing them?"


​When I read that in his blog, I thought, "Oh, yeah! Discipline! I forgot about that one!" Maybe we've been so focused on being motivated that we forgot that a LOT of the things we do all the time don't depend on whether we feel like doing them. Let's just make a short list:

Brushing your teeth
Cooking food for your family
Going to work
Doing laundry
Getting gas for your car
Paying your taxes
Mowing your grass

See? These are all things we do every day (or at least every week??!!) that we do whether or not we feel like it because they just need to be done. 

So we've had motivation with us all of the time in the form of discipline. We just had to give it a new name!

When we do what we say we will do, we build discipline, and that is more potent a motivating force than motivation itself.

Right, Mel?
<![CDATA[In Defense Of Fun]]>Wed, 30 Aug 2017 14:57:32 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/in-defense-of-fun
Meet Brayden (pictured above), a sweet fun kid who loves to swim. This little guy comes every week to swim lessons, answering YES every time I ask him if he is ready to have some fun together. And man, does he deliver. When we do backfloating, I always ask kiddos what song they want to sing while floating - this kid? Chose Whip-Nae-Nae. That's right. This guy knows how to have fun.

It's really important to us that kids have fun when they come to swim lessons. 

Along with fun comes never pushing a child to do what doesn't sound like fun to them. Eventually, if they are having fun, they will be curious about what the next skill is, one skill at a time.

We had a child last year who just loved to jump backward off the ladder, but was terrified to jump in the water facing the pool. So jump off the ladder backward we did. You would think that we would have kept pressing and prodding her to jump forward off the ladder, wheedling her into doing the skill that we thought that she needed. However, a more effective method was to keep her doing the thing she loved, over and over until she became interested in seeing what it would be like to jump forward. And guess what? She did eventually do just that, and now she loves it. 

Had we made our agenda the most important thing, we would have missed out on her own creative interest pressing her to try something new. We let go and we let her become interested. By doing this, we facilitated her own learning, and paved the way for other techniques that she needed to learn.

It's hard to do, though, sometimes, when we want to see progress, when we want to make that parent happy by showing them that their child is doing new things and progressing forward. But we know that ultimately, trust and confidence are built a little at a time, depending on the child, and the best thing we can do is keep suggesting, keep encouraging, and let the growth occur.

This is how we teach children to swim. 

Find out more on our site at http://readysetsweat.net/childrens-swim-lessons.html

<![CDATA[Your personal flirtation device]]>Sat, 26 Aug 2017 13:53:21 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/your-personal-flirtation-device
This cracked me up. One of my friends once called her down puffy vest her personal flirtation device. Get it? Personal flOAtation/personal flIRtation, and the fact that a down vest is puffy and looks like a lifejacket? Right, I know, if you have to explain the joke, it's not funny anymore! Oh well. My point... oh yes. My point. The point I wanted to make today is that everyone has inside their bodies a personal floatation device, a PFD (whether or you have inside your body a personal flirtation device is up to you, but is definitely outside the scope of this blog, and is MOST DEFINITELY outside the appropriateness scale LOLOLOL).

So... what is this mystery personal floatation device (PFD)?

Hints: It is inside your chest. You inflate it with air. 

Ding-ding-ding-ding!! It is your lungs! Your lungs inflated are pretty successful at keeping you afloat. 

What they are not as successful at is keeping your face out of the water. That is the job of your face. For example, if you are front floating and not moving at all, your body will more than likely stay afloat at the water's surface with your face facing down. You won't be OUT of the water, but just underneath the surface. (I say "more than likely" rather that "without exception" that you will stay afloat because there is a small percentage of people, one to three percent, that does not float with their lungs inflated - people with very low body fat, e.g. Olympic swimmers). However, your face's orientation toward the bottom in a front float does not help you breathe much, unless you are a fish with gills. For that, you will need to roll over to your back.

Once you are on your back, your body relaxed will hold you up with most of your body just underneath the water's surface. If you even so slightly hold your head or hands or feet out of the water, your face goes under, but otherwise, your face stays out pretty well. If you let your legs dangle down, it works even better and you can breathe to your heart's content. If you have lower body fat like me, you may need to move your arms just slightly to keep your face out as you exhale. But not much.

Your personal floatation device can be used in any situation and for as long as the water temperature will let you stay alive without hypothermia. As I tell my little ones in swim lessons in our warm teaching pool, we could just let you float here and throw you little bits of cheeseburger all day, and you'd be perfectly fine. 

So there you have it. You have something inside you that is as reliable as anything at keeping you afloat. Even you grew up swimming at your family's house on the lake with the pool in the backyard and swam on swim team all of your life, I encourage you to try this out and see how relaxed you can get in your front float and back float. I've worked with people who grew up on lakes who did not realize that they could float without moving, or that their air holds them up.

Your personal floatation device is there for the using. 

​Your choice of snazzy swimsuit to catch the eye of that special someone is up to you.
<![CDATA[There is No "I" In Team, But There Is an "M" and an "E," and That's Me! And I'm In Team Rocket!]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 19:12:02 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/there-is-no-i-in-team-but-there-is-an-m-and-an-e-and-thats-me-and-im-in-team-rocket
I've lived in a lot of places, and every place I've gone, I've always found a friend or two who has become a friend or at least an acquaintance. I randomly meet people on vacation that I stay friends with after we all go home. At home, I'm friends with the checker at the grocery store, the lady behind the lunch counter, and the neighbors next door. I guess it's habit, or maybe it's just fun to meet people. 

So I want to tell you about a group of people I've met here in Huntsville who are a pretty amazing bunch; it's a triathlon group called Team Rocket Tri Club. On paper, it is a triathlon club that puts on races and training events for people in our region. We have several sprint distance races, an Olympic distance race, an open water swim race, and even a reverse trail triathlon.  Every one of our races supports one or more charities, and after we pay our bills and give back to the club and the equipment fund, a gajillion dollars goes to these charities to help all kinds of random things, from medical research to food banks to everything you can imagine. So with regard to being a functioning athletic club, I guess you could say we're pretty stout.

But in reality, we also do things you wouldn't expect from a tri club. We get together for potlucks and exchange dessert recipes. We have pool parties at our friend Tony's house. We shop at our local bike and run shops together and empty our bank accounts on the newest Hoka shoe that we soooooo don't need. We have White Elephant Christmas parties where we argue about who gets the ginormous box of chocolates and the whiskey. We share our extra helmet when some doofus forgets theirs (me!). We have a kickoff party every spring and a season ending party in the fall, where we give out our charity checks and feast upon tacos and queso dip. We lend each other Garmin watches and anti-fog wipes for our goggles when we forgot them (also me!). We welcome new people and we get to know old ones. And we have a lot of old ones! VERRRY VERRY OLD ONES! Ha ha!

We have our trials. This past year, we lost one of our own unexpectedly and it was like losing a family member to many of us. We mourned together and comforted one another in remembrance.

We've also had people take on amazing challenges together. One of our members rode his bike all the way from Alabama to Colorado a few years ago and we sat and watched slides together at one of the local bike shops. Many of our members have traveled across the country together to do Ironmans or Age Group Championship races at a time when their own family members either could not go or didn't really have interest in going. Sometimes a group of families have gone together and piled in cars with their southern accents and bikes like some wild Beverly Hillbillies contraption. Some of our members spend time raising awareness for veterans who have served our country, and wear matching Red-White-Blue shirts and fist bump each other every time they see each other. 

When we do put on a race, it's like a huge family reunion where everyone brings bikes and running shoes instead of food. Oh, who am I kidding, we bring food too! And this club really supports our races; you end up seeing the same families and people volunteering and we more often than not have way more volunteers than we need.

And you know with most clubs where it's super hard to get anyone to volunteer to do anything and then when they do, they don't really want to do it or do it well? Not this group. This group is jumping up and down to help and do things like get up at 4 in the morning in the freezing cold to drive boats, set buoys, set up parking lanes, and cut up bananas. Crazy? Yeah, probably. But this group is more than some people to wave at and someone to talk to when you're nervous before a race.

You might be thinking... I could never join a triathlon club; I don't even know how to do a triathlon! Well, then, you're in the right place. This is where beginners get started and find friends to explore the sport with. You should join us!

If you're a veteran to the sport, you should join us too, because we need your experience and your insane stories like that one time you broke a pedal and kept on riding all the way to the finish on one leg. Also that one where you got locked in the port-o-potty accidentally and had to bang on the door till someone let you out. And especially the one where your suit ripped right up the hiney right before the swim started.

Come join the crazies. You'll fit right in.

<![CDATA[Fell on Black (Training) Days...]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 14:26:04 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/fell-on-black-training-days
(((Editor's note: We are SO PUMPED to have a GUEST BLOG from Coach Tom Longino this week! Read and enjoy!)))

A little ode in the title to the recently departed Chris Cornell (RIP) and Soundgarden, one of my favorites 90’s rock groups.  If you do not know the song or the group, that just proves I am getting to be much older than I act.  Anyway, a few weeks ago, Ali asked if I might want to write a blog or two, my choice on the subject. As I started thinking about it, many random ideas blew up in my head.  So many topics in triathlon and endurance sports in general interest me.  Moreover, since our conversation I have had a couple of sessions in my training that have not gone so well.  In fact, they have been terrible to the point where I hit no measureable thresholds, goals, or planned times!  Since this is my fourth season in triathlon, I have gained a little experience and perspective.  Hence, I just walked those off (so to speak) and moved on to the next training in my plan.  It did get me thinking, though, about the difference in how I deal with bad training sessions now versus when I first started my triathlon journey. 

First off, everyone has bad training sessions.  If someone tells you they don’t, they are either not really putting in the training, telling a fib, or you have just met one of those few athletes I label as X-MEN, who are super natural.  So, when I first started, if I had a bad training session, I would carry that ‘black day’ around mentally beating myself up for days.  I would then try to push even harder at the next training even if the plan called for going easy.  At times that worked, but more times than not, it lead to injuries, over training, exhaustion, or sometimes more frustration as I did not see myself as progressing how I thought I should.  Pay attention here, particularly those new to endurance sports. This does not typically happen just once, but becomes a repetitive cycle. 

“You Start. You Finish. Don’t let the numbers determine the success of a workout!” – Brett Sutton

Now that I’m coaching, paying attention to more athletes, and I train among you, I can see the same angst of ‘mental gears’ grinding that I have had in the past.  You think it does not show, but when I see some of you on the back end of a session at the pool or on the road, it’s there.  Sometimes I do not even have to ask how it went, as your body language gives it away.  

Now you are saying, "Well, ok, what can do I do about those ‘Black Days’!?"  

Here are some things to think about, and it is not an all-inclusive list:
  • Realize ‘Black Days’ (training sessions)  happen to everyone. Accept it, recognize it, and maybe even embrace it a little.
  • You are not hitting your numbers (yes, I’m obsessed with data too), so stop looking at your gadgets or just turn them off and proceed based on feel.
  • Learn your body! There is a difference between hurting in training and being really hurt. Everyone’s thresholds are different. 
  • There are times to push through and make yourself mentally and physically stronger,  and other times where its smarter to either reduce your training load and or the expectations of the session.
  • Consistency tends to limit the number of ‘Black Days’ you will experience.
  • Account for your conditions (for example: if you have been training in the cool of the early morning and switch to the heat of the afternoon, adjust your expectations either in pace, time, or distance). 
  • It is not blasphemous to learn how to recover properly. Really learn what a recovery run, bike spin, or swim means. Contact me I’ll send you a whole slew of articles and discussion points.
“I spent many years learning how to train and suffer correctly to become a great triathlete.” - Torbjørn Sindballe (3rd Ironman World Championship 2007, ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Champion 2004/2006)”

I love the above statement.  How many ‘Black Days’ do you think Thunder Bear (that is what Torbjorn in Danish translates to) suffered getting to the top of the sport?  Or how many athletes has Brett Sutton (if you don’t know who he is, watch his athlete Daniela Ryf in Oct at Kona this year) changed their sessions on the fly because he observed they just didn’t have it that day? 

With the above said, do not forget you have CHOSEN to partake in endurance sports and that includes some level of suffering and discomfort.

As the saying goes, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Be smart in your journey.  

-Coach Tom Longino
<![CDATA[If It's Working, It's Right!]]>Wed, 02 Aug 2017 19:33:45 GMThttp://readysetsweat.net/blog/if-its-working-its-right
Someone learning to swim might say, is this the right way to move my arms? Is this how the breathing works?  The answer depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to have a perfect technique stroke for speed, then there definitely is a correct way to do things to go fast. If you are learning to be safe in deep water, then the answer is, "If it's working, it's right!" 

What this means is that no matter what you do with your arms and legs, the most important thing in learning to be safe in deep water is that you are calm. From that calm, your body naturally moves in ways that propel it through the water. In the Miracle Swimming class that I teach, time and time again, people discover how to propel forward without me showing them how to do it. 

Calm begats coordination, one might say! With the triathletes and fitness swimmers I work with, when they are calm, the coordination comes with it. 

But everyone's body is different and every person does things slightly differently, as the folks at the swim schools Total Immersion and Swim Smooth have said time and time again. There are right ways to do things, but the number one way to find out what is right is that it works! 

Far back in swimming history, the butterfly stroke evolved from the breaststroke because the underwater recovery part of breaststroke was deemed too slow by some, and so they started swinging the arms above the water to gain speed. The frog kick evolved to a dolphin kick, and a new stroke was born! But you don't have to look that far back to see swimmers doing things that work.

Just this past year, Olympian Ryan Lochte was inventive with his underwater kicking in such a way that a new rule had to be put into place (unsurprisingly referred to as "the Lochte rule") which says that no swimmer can kick on the back during the freestyle turn part of the individual medley race. This is because Ryan's amazing underwater kick propelled him so fast and so far that it became an unfair advantage since the freestyle leg of the race is supposed to be swum on the belly, not the back. 

So if your goal is to be super fast swimmer lady or guy, then we need to look for the key technique items that all swimmers are doing and pick the ones that work well for you. But if you are learning to swim for the first time, don't worry about looking around to how everyone else is doing things. If it's working, you've got it right, my friend.

Work work work work work - thanks Rihanna!