In the last week, I’ve completed a couple of swim training sessions. They’re pretty long and include big chunks of steady front crawl. So, I had time to think about technique – streamlining and ways to reduce drag. I began focussing on my neck alignment and experimented with a couple of tricks I use in singing.
The first is to put one hand behind your head and push the back of your head into your hand, providing resistance from your hand. It has a similar effect to standing against a wall. It helps me to reset my neck and ultimately head position so that my chin is neutral – not pointing upwards or pushing back and down. Besides, I quite like the feeling of the resistance against the back of my head. It’s oddly therapeutic.
Secondly, an Alexander Technique teacher who specifically works with singers once told me that starts every session in the same way – she asks her students to get grounded and ensure their feet feel fully connected into the earth, before taking both little fingers and resting them very gently in the grooves behind the earlobes. Magically, I find that this has a similar effect of neutralising the neck in an unforced way.
Obviously, it was only the sensations of these techniques that I applied to swimming and moreso the first example (there would certainly be nothing aerodynamic about stopping to put your little fingers behind your ears)! It definitely made me feel more streamlined in the water and only remains to be proven when I can eventually race again.
All that remains for me to do is correct myself slightly on yesterday’s blog: lip trills aren’t really like blowing a raspberry if you define the latter as putting your tongue between your lips and blowing. Take your tongue out of the equation, put your lips together lightly, blow… et voilà! That would be a lip trill.