This past weekend, I had my first session with my swim coach, Tom, and boy was it worth every penny and minute of my day.
Tom emphasizes "body balance" in his teaching technique, and while I'd initially though I'd never make it through an hour-long session, the time wound up passing way too quickly for my liking.
Instead of jumping into the lanes to start swimming, we instead went over to the deep end so Tom could see how my body naturally floated in the water and then he guided me through several drills to help me learn how head position dictates how the rest of my body "hangs" in the water.
After a little while of kicking along with my arms hanging at my sides moving my head up and down in the water to get the positioning just right, Tom had me swim on one side to see how my body reacted when I'd turn my face up to get a breath of air.
I was rewarded the first couple times I tried to breathe with some water in the lungs, but I got the hang of it and learned to relax a lot more in the water and not try to rush my way through the breathing exercise.
Turns out that "relax while you're swimming" was my greatest lesson of the day, and one I've been able to put into practice in my two swims since the lesson. When I've relaxed, I've been able to go farther and faster and easier than ever before.
And I know this is going to be difficult to do during the race, but at least I've learned the lesson early.
Oh, and I did my second brick this past weekend: 55 min biking followed by 20 min running and I felt really good afterwards. No soreness like last time. Progress!