Ten Thousand Kicks (by Christine)

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. – Bruce Lee


I have to admit, I never enjoyed DNF.

I like practising statics, fins are to me but another body part, but no fins was always something I had to get through somehow.

That was pre-covid. After the circuit breaker, I couldn't wait to get back in the water and I am very lucky that I have access to a pool. Unfortunately for me, fins are not allowed. Time to adapt, I told myself, and started to practise DNF. It’s more important to improve my breath-hold and the distance will just come. At least, that’s what I thought?

Training the technique on my own never showed much improvement. I fought to get to 30-35m (with safety, at other sessions) and that's all I could do. At some point, I got frustrated and stopped. I wanted to wait until I could get back to train with fins or just do statics, which also needed a lot of attention since the break from training during circuit breaker lowered my CO2tolerance immensely.

A few weeks ago, I started training with Michelle. She took a look at my DNF and the first thing she did was recommend a drill for me to improve my “scissor” kicks. While she was gliding effortlessly underwater, I was on the surface on my back trying to figure out the proper leg technique Michelle showed me – when to flex my ankles and straighten them. When I was done, I practiced the same but facing down.

If you have been doing a certain movement for almost 30 years, it's hard to change it. Especially when the new movement feels awkward, wrong and less efficient. Until I did the first correct kick, and then, a little later another one. I tried DNF with my newly learnt kicks and it already felt a little less strenuous. Whenever I was in the pool, I kept repeating my leg drills as part of my warm-up. Michelle constantly gave me tips and I noticed the difference the little adjustments made.

Still, I wasn’t there yet and that was the point when I got my underwater video session. That was immensely helpful! And guess what, my arm strokes could also use a little makeover! Another week of practice went by and I did my personal best, a 50m DNF, just by correcting my technique. I wasn’t even intending to go that far as my training plan said 25m, but suddenly it was so easy to go further. My statics are still not where they were before the covid-19 circuit breaker, but with my improved technique, it wasn't much of an issue.  On hindsight I can’t believe how much energy I wasted, no wonder I was struggling all the time! I will still need some time to get to my 10,000 kicks, but the progress so far is amazing.

If you ever feel stuck in your training or even if you think you're doing pretty ok, I would recommend having an honest look at your technique from time to time, you'll be amazed at what a difference training drills and technique adjustments can make.