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Feeling Frustrated in the Pool

by Meghann on August 7, 2012

Some mornings I think our swim coach wakes up and thinks to himself “you know what, I think today is a good day to pick on so-and-so.” Today that so-and-so was me.

It all started with this.

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(source)

We all laughed when Felipe brought the head snorkel out. Well, all of us except for Felipe, who was dead serious. He passed the snorkel to me, along with two paddles, a pull buoy, and an old bike tire to tie my legs together with. I looked ridiculous, and I felt ridiculous too. Being strapped and paddled, made it hard to move and difficult to swim.

I was told to swim with my head down and focus on my form and stroke. I thought that meant I should focus on keeping my body straight. I was wrong. After one lap our coach mentioned my elbow wasn’t going high enough. The next, I wasn’t rotating enough. The next, still not rotating and I was entering the water too soon. This pattern continued through the remainder of the workout. Mainly stating I wasn’t rotating, my arm was entering the water too soon, and I wasn’t getting the power out of my stroke that I should.

It was really frustrating, mainly because I thought I was making the necessary changes to correct my form, but I wasn’t. I would do a lap, feel good, and be told I was still making the same error. Grrr…. Why wouldn’t my right side rotate like it should?

My coach ended the workout with some one-on-one drills that forced my right side to rotate. We ran out of time, otherwise I’m pretty sure he would have worked me further. Hopefully the rotation will click soon because my body is still rebelling at the idea.

Have you ever been frustrated with a workout because something won’t click?

(edited to add: I was joking when I said the coach was “picking on me” I know everything he helped me with today was to improve my form and technique, not to single me out. I was more frustrated with myself for not getting it. I know it will come, it’s just hard when you know what you should be doing, only your body doesn’t want to do it.) 

I left the pool still trying to figure everything out. When I got home, I toasted two pieces of wheat bread and slathered them with honey peanut butter and pumpkin butter, then added strawberries, ground flax, and walnuts.

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A filling breakfast full of various textures, flavors, and a little crunch.

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On another note, I’m not sure why anyone would want to use the snorkel headpiece in a triathlon setting. It didn’t make the swim any easier – I’m pretty sure it made it harder. I couldn’t move my head to see where I was going and it was difficult to breathe without having nose plugs. I was not a fan. They are allowed for the swim portion of most triathlons (you just wouldn’t qualify for any awards), but I’m not sure how that’s possible when I can see it being dangerous in a group setting.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kalli August 7, 2012 at 10:07 am

i imagine this will make you a better swimmer in the long run but i can also imagine it may make it harder for you to want to go back! sorry for the tough morning but he does want you to improve :)
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2 Amanda August 7, 2012 at 10:29 am

I’ve had my fair share of tough coaches in the past. I had a beach volleyball coach who said that if I made a mistake once, he would correct me. If I made it again, he would let it slide, but if I made it a third time….ouch. Doing sprint drills in the sand will definitely teach you not to make the mistake again.

Sounds like Felipe is a good coach. Stick with it!
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3 Sylvia August 7, 2012 at 10:39 am

Hi Meghan – Never commented on your blog before, but as a former Division I collegiate swimmer and avid user of the FINIS snorkel I had to comment because of neck problems. The swimmer’s snorkel isn’t for a race setting – it’s a actually explicitly for a training setting and meant to help with hypoxic training and stroke work. There is even a cap to increase to hypoxic training effects: http://www.finisinc.com/snorkel-cardio-cap.html.

With freestyle look slightly ahead with the snorkel on and adjust your breathing – breathing in through the mouth and out through your nose. That’s common practice with swimmers even without the snorkel so you conserve the amount of time breathing. On flip turns simply send a burst of air out of your mouth after you flip and all of the water will be removed.

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4 Meghann August 7, 2012 at 10:42 am

Oh, totally agree. Sorry, I meant in a triathlon setting. I’ve seen triathletes wear the FINIS snorkel during races and don’t see how they do it. Frankly, it’s dangerous.

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5 Jennifer August 7, 2012 at 10:45 am

I can hardly float to save my life, so can’t totally relate to this post.. but in my recent obsession with weight lifting, I can very much relate to the frustrations that come along with something not “click”ing! Like in a front squat, you’re supposed to keep your elbows up. My elbows physically can’t get there.. and it HURTS. Or when I do it, I end up choking myself with the bar.. which is apparently okay, cause then you know your elbows are good. So frustrating when it’s so uncomfortable!

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6 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More August 7, 2012 at 10:46 am

Sounds like a frustrating swim. Hopefully the next swim will be MUCH better without it.
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7 Nikki August 7, 2012 at 10:51 am

I LOVE my front mounted snorkel! And I know about frustration — sorry you felt that way, but it will be worth it in the end!

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8 Candice August 7, 2012 at 10:53 am

ahhh the snorkel and tube. I do NOT miss those two pieces of equiptment, especially the tube. I had to use it during pulls sets doing backstroke. It was AWFUL.
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9 Victoria (District Chocoholic) August 7, 2012 at 10:55 am

If you’ve had vertebrae in your neck fused, you can’t turn your head properly to b breathe, which is why some people use them.
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10 Meghann August 7, 2012 at 11:11 am

Good point. Makes much more sense based on that.

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11 Shanna, like Banana August 7, 2012 at 11:07 am

Whenever my MIL drags me to a step class I feel this way. And I took dance all my life, but step alludes me. So frustrating!
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12 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats August 7, 2012 at 11:09 am

Oh that sounds awful! I’ve had 2 different trainers try and get me to walk up into a handstand against a wall and I couldn’t do it either time! It was SO FRUSTRATING! They said it’s okay we’ll do something else, but I kept trying and still couldn’t get it! Ahhhh. Haha one day.
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13 theresa @ aspoonfulofsunshine August 7, 2012 at 11:14 am

the dreaded snorkel….That is the one piece of swimming equiptment I despised. For some reason it took me SO long to get the hang of doing flipturns with it then still having enough air in my lungs to blow out the water that got in it from the flipturn. But don’t worry girl, I’m sure the rotation thing will click one day and it’s days like these that make you stronger (both mentally + physically)
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14 Carolyn August 7, 2012 at 11:24 am

The head snorkel is just to kick your ass in practice, not for a race. Felipe likes to kick people’s ass. ;)

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15 Meghann August 7, 2012 at 11:30 am

Oh, I know! He would NEVER have me wear it during a race. I just meant that I have seen people wear them during triathlons and I just don’t see why they would unless they have a neck injury as Victoria mentioned above.

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16 Carolyn August 7, 2012 at 11:35 am

Right-0. Like those old dudes who have the kind you wear when scuba diving. Gotcha.
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17 Emily N August 7, 2012 at 11:36 am

I don’t blame you for being frustrated. i hope it clicks soon!
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18 Allison @ Running Through Red Lights August 7, 2012 at 11:37 am

I’ve never done any sort of official swim training, but every time I go to the pool with my husband to swim laps I feel like a total goober. Swimming is seriously HARD! I get so frustrated after a lap or two! I tend to stick to running (not that I’m very good at that either) because I feel like I have some control over my body!
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19 Rebecca August 7, 2012 at 11:54 am

I was pretty frustrated with today’s run – little bit too hot for me. Don’t know how you Floridians do it :-)
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20 Jessica @ New Girl, New City August 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I am so bad at swimming, your coach would have a field day with me!

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21 Meg L. August 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I was a competitive swimmer for 12 years. My coach would always nag me about rolling my shoulders! A great drill is the 6/6 drill. Do one pull and leave your arm out front and do six kicks on your side. Then do another pull with the other arm and another 6 kicks. You get a good feel for swimming on your side. Hope this helps!

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22 Angela @ Happy Fit Mama August 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I’ve been the “picked on” one before and it totally sucks. I get so frustrated. In the end it’s all good because it improves my performance. But until you get there you feel horrible.
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23 Annette @FitnessPerks August 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I wouldn’t ever use a snorkel during a race–totally bad idea, I think!

It’s good to have tough coaches….once in awhile ;) You might have tight lats and/or delts/traps if it’s tough for your to go from side to side. I would also focus on core strength and lower back strength–those are all crucial to help with the rotation.

Have a good day!
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24 JennyV August 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm

My dad always told me if I WASN’T getting critiqued I should worry… As that means the coach has give up on you! Everyone can improve, even these amazing Olympians I can’t stop watching!

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25 Mary @ food and fun on the run August 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Other than that goofy snorkel, I was in your same shoes this morning. Every time I finished a hundred, Felipe told me I was doing something wrong. Seriously, after every single lap. I felt like I was doing the stuff he told me correctly after a while, but bad habits are really hard to break! It is taking me forever to fix my wacky stroke!

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26 Kayla August 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I am sorry – I know how frustrating that can be… one time on the track with my first marathon training group it was “keep your head up” then “lower your chin” then “dig with your hands like your putting them in your pockets” What my husband told me was that the reason that is happening is that the coach sees that you have some awesome potential – otherwise he wouldn’t bother to help you to improve! And improve you will! That hard uncomfortable work realllly will pay off! Good Luck!
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27 Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut August 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Yes I can totally relate! I recently tried a workout from the Nike Club Training app and I just couldn’t get down a couple of the moves. I’m pretty athletic and coordinated, so it was beyond frustrating that my mind was telling my body to do something, but it just wouldn’t compute! I’m going to give it another try this week- sometimes you just need a fresh start.
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28 Cait's Plate August 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I’ve definitely gone through phases of feeling super frustrated with workouts. Hang in there! It always “clicks” into place at some point!
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29 Sarah August 7, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Hi Meghann!

I know you have A LOT on your plate… if you are tired and not sure why, I would check in with your primary care doctor. It could just be wedding planning, traveling, working out, stress, etc., but it could also be hypothyroidism or anemia. A simple blood test can tell you. I was feeling the same way and it turned out to be my thyroid. I wish I had checked in with my doctor sooner. Don’t forget to take care of yourself :)
Sarah, RN

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30 Beth (Running with the Sunrise) August 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I definitely have at least one crappy/frustrating workout a week. I feel like the bad workouts help us realize how awesome our good workouts are. Maybe if we didn’t have bad workouts we wouldn’t appreciate the really great ones like we should.

I hope your next swim goes better! :)
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31 Amanda August 8, 2012 at 8:56 am

I just wanted to say thanks for this post and the post about being tired. It reminds me that you are normal and have bad days like everyone. Sometimes I forget that and compare myself to you when I have the bad days (which duh, I shouldn’t do!) so it’s nice to have a reminder that everyone has bad days.

I hope your next practice is better and you get your energy back!

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32 Lauren @ Part Time House Wife August 8, 2012 at 10:24 am

I totally know what you mean… At least you kept at it and I bet it clicks sooner than later!
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