I've been oh-so-good about working on my wayward stroke out; for ten weeks now, I've been drilling, drilling, drilling 4 or 5 times a week, and foregoing the pleasures of the longer, absent-minded swim that I used to end my day with. And there are definitely signs of improvement - improved pace, less waggling in the head area, a less frenetic hurling of the left arm through the recovery. But I was getting bored, so I decided to buy myself some toys to keep me entertained.
The first of these is a swim snorkel that I've had for a couple of weeks now - mine is made by Finis, and is splendid...or at least it will be once I've finally got the hang of not inhaling large quantities of pool water up my nose. And yes - I know it doesn't make sense because I don't inhale underwater through my nose when I'm swimming without a snorkel. It's obviously just a co-ordination demand too far sometimes. But when I'm not snorting water, this is a fabulous little gadget for giving me time to think about particular elements of the stroke without the distraction of turning to breathe. I don't use it too much, since being able to turn to breathe seems pretty important, but a portion of the session with the snorkel on helps me to get the feel for those bits of the stroke cycle that I'm having trouble holding on to, making it easier to keep everything in place when I'm back to full stroke. Be warned, though - it is a spectacularly foolish-looking piece of kit, and you will be very hard to take seriously when wearing it.
The second new toy is these funky Finis PT paddles...or anti-paddles, really. Unlike conventional paddles, these are specifically designed to completely prevent any purchase on the water by the hands. This forces the swimmer to make full use of the forearm in the catch and pull phase of the stroke - a bit like fist gloves, except the hand is kept in a more natural swimming position. At first, they were really frustrating to swim in because of the lack of grip on the water, but after a while, you start to really feel for the water with the whole forearm. In turn, this has been really helpful in terms of getting my arms into a better, high-elbowed catch position. And, when you take them off, you feel like you are flying.
Anybody else got any good suggestions for training kit that you can't live without and that might keep me entertained in my drill sessions?