Test Your Depth Comfort with the Deep Water Ladder!
Happy July, Adult Lessons Swimmers!
Here we are in the midst of our deep water progressions. Last week, after we discussed the basics, we moved onto the deep water float. If you've learned how to do this, you're already a deep water pro! If not, never fear, as letting go and leaving yourself alone with the surface of the water is a humongous (read as: HUMONGOUS) step in deep water comfort. This week, we have the benefit of getting to move back to the wall and explore some new tips and tricks. Excitingly, today we get to talk about using the LADDER. The ladder is a useful tool to help augment comfort when moving below the surface. Last week's discussion was more tuned to comfort when moving horizontally in the water. Now, using the ladder, we'll get to discuss how to move vertically, and gain comfort with depth.
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This part is usually the one at which people shudder. But it DOESN'T have to be. That's why we're here: to facilitate this learning process and make the adaptations as easy as possible for you. As you can see in the video, the ladder provides a means by which swimmers can literally move "one rung at a time" through this skill (for once it's not proverbial). We are literally using the ladder to propel our bodies toward the bottom of the pool. One thing you might note from the video is that as she went down under the water, her body started moving horizontally away from the ladder. This is due to the gases (O2/CO2) trapped in our bodies that give us some of our natural buoyancy.
Rewinding back to last week's video, the 4:10 mark and on gives a great discussion of the natural float and the "sinking point". Most people (sans perhaps bodybuilders) are natural floaters. Our faces can stay above the surface of the water 99% of the time. However, as we exhale, the gases that help keep us afloat are released, and thus we find our sinking point. A good way to test this is to float in a depth where you cannot quite touch the bottom, or where you can at least pick your legs slightly up and not touch. Then you start with a full breath of air, and slowly exhale until you feel yourself sinking as demonstrated in the aforementioned video. Once you gain concept of this point, you will have much improved bodily awareness with regard to depth and control. These reference points are certainly worth your while during this journey, as they can expedite progress and certainly mitigate any doubts you may have.
Cycling back to the present, once we have found our sinking point, we can actually marry this with the ladder drill. As you get comfortable on the first few rungs below the surface of the ladder, you may find yourself stall in depth because your legs and back want to rise to the surface. If we employ a slow, but constant exhale, we can expel enough air to allow us to climb down further and continue to test our limits of depth. As always, continue to try this at YOUR OWN pace. It's no one else's experience but yours. Let it continue to feel like just that, an experience, rather than a rushed and false sense of security. Do give these a try to help work on depth and improve your breathing as well!
Fact of the week: Unlike grass or cement, water is much more finite. When we jump on land, we hit the ground solidly. There's a reason we can dive in water but not on our driveway. When you get in any depth of water, your body keeps going. The floating that we discussed last week gives a perfect way to stay at the surface, but what about if we jump in, or worse, accidentally fall in? Building comfort underneath the water and learning how to get back to the surface will continue to become a part of your journey. For now, trust that the ladder exercise will provide an ease into this so that the next time you jump off that diving board at your local pool, it won't seem so daunting once you're in. Trust the process. These drills are in place to give you agency. View it as a gain in autonomy and comfort, at any rate!
How do I move up? Attend as many of your classes as possible, communicate with your instructor on your struggles, goals, and where you're at in our curriculum. We also have many adults who purchase a gym membership to 24 Hour Fitness or LA Fitness while they are taking lessons so they can practice 2-3 times between classes.
Let's climb the rungs to your swimming goals! Thank you for continuing to learn with us!
The Sigma Team