November 2017 saw the graduation of the seventh cohort of athletes from novice swimmers to confident freestyle swimmers when they completed the Bassetlaw Triathlon Club Beginners to Freestyle swim course.
If you ask a triathlete what their least favoured discipline is, there is a good chance they will reply ‘the swim’. Although it is the shortest part of a race, the swim -in particular mass start open water swimming, can test the nerve of even the most experienced athlete. A good swim can give an athlete the edge in triathlon, and swimming in open water triathlon is very different from swimming in the pool. This was the reason why, four years ago, the coaches of Bassetlaw Triathlon Club established the Beginners to Freestyle swimming class.
Based on the hugely successful Swim Smooth method of teaching freestyle swimming , which was developed by Paul Newsome in 2004, the Beginners to Freestyle sessions begin by focussing on teaching swimmers to relax when entering the water. Over the six week course, swimmers learn that the single most effective thing they can do to improve their swimming is to breathe; something which may seem obvious but which so many, even experienced swimmers have difficulty with. The course then moves on to examine stroke techniques and provides useful techniques to help swimmers to get a feel for and develop their catch in the water.
Budding triathlete Sharron Laidlow joined the course because she wants to complete her first triathlon using a freestyle stroke.
” Our coaches were brilliant. We started with learning how to breathe correctly, and then moved on to stroke efficiency, kicking & built up from there. They were always on hand for advice during the week whilst we were doing our ‘homework’. As a group we were all very supportive of each other too. Now I’m much more confident & excited about doing my first triathlon next year. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn freestyle.”
Jo Taylor couldn’t swim a stroke of freestyle before starting Beginners to Freestyle, but is thrilled with her achievement.
” Now I can now swim 100m continuously freestyle! I enjoyed the Saturday morning coached sessions, but I also started going to the club swim sessions.
The coaches are really friendly and helpful. They don’t mind repeating themselves if you don’t get something first time round and they make the sessions fun.
I didn’t think that once I had learned to freestyle, I would continue swimming on a regular basis, but I love it that much, I have joined Bassetlaw Triathlon Club and attend all the swim sessions”
Gillian Shephard was convinced she would never be able to swim freestyle confidently but since attending the Beginners to Freestyle she has proved herself wrong.
“Although I was a confident breaststroke swimmer, before I went on the course I had never swum a length of freestyle in my life, I had only been able to swim as far as I could hold my breath. It’s a wonderful achievement for me to be able to swim lengths of freestyle fairly comfortably after only 6 weeks of lessons.
The big plusses for the course were the encouragement of the coaches and individual tips and the support of the group. Building up confidence, especially with breathing, was a big part of the course. I would encourage anyone who thinks, like I did, that they would never be able to swim freestyle, to sign up.”
Head Coach Stephen Chambers said “This has been a great cohort. They have really supported one another throughout the course. It has been brilliant to see them develop. ”
Beginners to Freestyle will be available again in 2018 and is open to anyone who wants to learn to swim freestyle. Swimmers must be able to swim one length of any stroke to be eligible to join the course. For further details about Beginners to Freestyle, including future sessions and prices, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bassetlawtriclub.co.uk