One of my goals for this phase aimed to add at least one additional stroke to my swimming. When I have not been sick or injured I have been working on the backstroke. Initially, when I went through the total immersion swim drills, I learned a method of floating on the water that gives the swimmer good balance. This method of floating required making the spine long and putting the head into the water just at the edge of eye level. When I first started to work on my backstroke, I attempted to continue this method. Often with little success as I ended up with mouthfuls of water, literally drowning myself. Then Ultraswimfast at The Water Blogged Triathlete posted an article of drills aimed to help with on the back balance and proper head position (here). That made a world of difference!!!
Basically the drill involves placing a dixie cup of water on the forehead while lying in the water. Additionally this eventually morphs into rotation without moving the head and is a tough set of exercises. In the pool I decided it was time to play the fool and give this a go. I realized that I needed something with some weight so I used my water bottle. Right away I learned that I was placing my head too far in the water and that I needed to elongate my neck and tuck my abs in at the chest, pulling my chin forward without angling the head. Once I practiced the prescribed drills and worked on it for a little while, it suddenly stuck and I was moving down the lane, doing the backstroke, without drowning. I completed 500 meters and was very satisfied with the overall progress I had made. My kicking still is not perfect, as my ankles have a tendency to not want to flatten as they are used to running and cycling positions. But, I am now able to work on and improve my backstroke. I think I have completed a major step in performing this stroke.
I need to keep working on this stroke and improving my form with it. I am going to work on adding the last two strokes in the next training phase. Thanks to ultraswimfast though, I have passed a major hurtle in my quest to successfully perform the backstroke. I am continuing my work with freestyle swimming and I am continuing to improve. But, I am ecstatic to have added an additional stroke to my swimming tool set. It really adds some variety to my swim workouts. Another hurtle completed, bring on breast stroke and the fly! Til next time.