Once upon a time I was a swimmer. I swam as a age grouper for the Southington Stingrays from the time I was 5 years old until I was in high school. As a teenager I swam for Southington High School. Once I got to college, I played water polo for Dartmouth. So, from the age of 5 until I was 21, I spent several hours a day in the pool swimming. The problem is I was a flyer. I spent years perfecting my butterfly stroke and dolphin kick and never really concentrated on freestyle. The only indication that something might be wrong with my freestyle stroke was after my freshman year swim season. At the annual banquet each swimmer received an “award” — mine was for craziest freestyle stroke.

Flash forward to 2006 when I started participating in triathlons: biking was hard; running was very hard; but swimming, that was something (I thought) I could do. In 2007, at FIRMMan in Rhode Island I swam a 28:23 for 1.2 miles, biked a 3:12:11 for 56 miles and ran a 2:20:10 for 13.1 miles. Looking at my times, the places I needed work were on the bike and run, not the swim. In 2010, I did the exact same race and I swam a 29:16, bike a 2:57:04 and ran a 1:59:35. So, I had improved by 7% on the bike, 14% on the run and actually had gotten slower on the swim.

On Doug’s advice, I decided to have a swim stroke analysis done by Jesse Kropelnicki at QT2. As part of the analysis Jesse filmed me swimming and then went over the film in detail during a classroom session. Turns out I have one messed up stroke. Here’s the video:

So I have a lot of work to do. The biggest thing for me was actually seeing what I was doing wrong and understanding what a fresstyle pull should look like. I’m working on the pull now. Once I get that down, I move to the kick. Finally, here’s a good diagram of what the pull should (and shouldn’t) look like:

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Kelly Burns Gallagher

mccarter english employment litigator / oiselle team runner / coeur sports triathlete / sonic endurance coach & race director / witsup.com writer / dartmouth '02 / emorylaw '05

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