Updated: Jul 13, 2021
When I was a young child learning to swim with the famous Peter Rigby at the Hibiscus Pool, I can vividly remember one particular lesson. We were told to stand on the bottom of the pool and lean over so our face was in the water and practice our freestyle arm strokes. We performed an arm stroke as the instructor talked us through each step. When we got to the recovery phase with our 'high elbows', the instructor was calling my name telling me to get those elbows up. I couldn't understand it, I thought I was reaching that elbow up as high as I possibly could, but the instructor kept insisting that I wasn't. Out of frustration, Mr Rigby came over to me and pulled my hand down out of the sky, so that my elbow was up. It was one of those ahhh moments.
Ok, so you're probably just thinking dumb blonde and while that could be true, how many of us really know what we are doing when our face is in the water! Proprioception is one of our body's senses that most of us have never heard of. It is the body's positioning awareness sense and obviously as a child, mine wasn't very good. Proprioception allows the body to adjust muscles quickly as needed to provide balance taking into account limb position and velocity and it is this body's sense that allows us to walk in complete darkness.
This sense can be improved upon with practice and Pilates has shown to do just that. However because we can't see a lot of what our limbs are doing while we are swimming it is a good idea to have that extra set of eyes through a coach. Videoing our swimming is also a great tool to show us exactly what we are doing. With practise we can improve our stroke, we might just need a little help to pull that hand down out of the sky.