At recommendation by Carly from Oregon Disability Sports, I signed up and was able to participate in my first Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) event this last Saturday, May 16, 2016. While I’ve been able to get myself swimming up to a mile and a half pretty proficiently over the years, it’s all been self taught, with no formal instruction on really honing my technique. This swim clinic was part of CAF’s Catch a Rising Star program, and hosted at the Nike Sports Center, in Beaverton, OR, with Swim Mechanix coaches, Alison Terry and Alan Voisard. Seriously, beautiful facility, wouldn’t you like to have this pool available to swim your laps in every day?
With my in-laws in town for Kate’s (sister-in-law) baby shower, it wasn’t too difficult to convince Dan (father-in-law) to come along to the clinic with me and act as my professional photographer. Entering the Nike World Headquarters, you can’t help the building excitement as you wind through the beautifully landscaped grounds, en route to the fitness center and pool. We were warmly greeted by the CAF staff and I enjoyed networking with their team. Sharing how I learned about the swim clinic, and my new interest in triathlons.
Programs Director Carolyn Odom and Programs Manager Travis Ricks were excited to tell me about their Paratriathlon Camp coming up end of August at their Challenged Athletes Center in San Diego (I am sufficiently sold, application has been submitted and I am eagerly waiting to find out if you’ll have me down for the weekend). After getting thoroughly pumped up by these two, a couple Nike employees interviewed me and had me evaluate a new idea they were tasked with, producing a mechanism incorporated into a shoe to ease entry and exit for people like me, who find such things a little more time consuming. Pretty exciting having a company looking to cater to this, Nike, if you need any product testing done, I am happy to help!
Alright, now back to the swimming. Through trial and error, my stroke works pretty well, for me, but I’ve felt over the last year that it was a little funky, and not just because I don’t really use my legs. Instinctively, I’ve known that I cross over center entirely too far with my arms once they enter the water, but it’s been one of those situations of: If it works, keep doing it. I know I can motor for at least a mile and a half, but wanting to get into triathlons, I figure I better see what I can do to improve the swimming, at least while my body will still somewhat behave when I order it about.
After a quick warm up, coach Alison laid it out for me and started offering me some helpful pointers. Yes, I was crossing way over center with my stroke, but I also developed some crazy high elbows/arms when out of the water. It was a little difficult slowing down to try focusing on this, as, when I slow down, my legs start to drag rather than follow, and once I did find the in between speed, apparently my body decided to over-pronounce the hand/arm exit with a crazy little wrist flick/snap.
Take a look at this mess (extremely pronounced as I’m going slow, and over-thinking things at this point), thanks again to my father-in-law for catching photos and videos.
Now I just have to get these toes healed up so I can get back in the pool on a regular basis (without going through the whole water-tight tape wrapping ordeal) to try and get my body to submit to some new swim mechanics, I have a lot to work on. This is certainly lining up to be a busy summer with race chair track practice (another one tomorrow), rideATAXIA NorCal next weekend, more race chair track practice, camping, repeat, then hopefully I”ll get into the CAF Paratriathlon Clinic end of August, and work in some grant applications to get ahold of my own race wheelchair. Thank you Challenged Athletes Foundation, Oregon Disability Sports, and World Wheelchair Sports for all that you’re doing to kippitmoving!