Getting it right (Guest blog by Colin Walls)


It is in my nature. I like to do things properly. I think it’s genetic, as the need to get things done correctly seems to have been passed on to my children …

When I started out learning to swim, a few years ago, my #1 priority was to learn to be confident in he water. The next thing was to be able to propel myself through the water. I learned to glide and do “sweeps” and then to do breast stroke. I noticed that most people, who endeavoured to do this stroke, were doing it wrong.

Typically, people swim with their head up [straining their neck] at 45 degrees to the surface. This approach is tiring and leads to neck-ache. I was taught to keep my head down [“Point the top of your head in the direction you want to go”.] This leads to much more efficient swimming. I can swim head-up, but it really is uncomfortable and I only do it if I do not have my goggles.

My desire to do things properly does not come from a perception that it is “right and proper”. It is all about doing something well and that often means efficiently. In the case of swimming, I want to move through the water with minimum wasted effort.

I am now endeavouring to learn front crawl. It seems quite complex to get all the necessary actions orchestrated. I have seen other people using the stroke. Some are splashing all over the place – and a splash, when swimming, is usually an indication of wasted effort. Someone who has mastered front crawl seems to glide through the water, apparently with no expended energy. You can guess where I want to end up.