Tri Swim Secrets: Review
It may seem odd to go from something as deep and personal as the last post to a review of a swim program, but interestingly enough...that's how life goes. The deep is interspersed with the shallow; the heart-wrenching with the mundane.
Several weeks ago, I took up an offer to review a program called Tri Swim Secrets by Kevin Koskella. I received a free month in the program to test it out and offer my honest opinion. Amidst all of this painting and reflecting, parenting and running, I did just that.
If you read this blog, you will know that I am a beginner swimmer...a VERY beginner swimmer. While I have trained in the pool and in open water, and completed a sprint-distance triathlon, I still do not have the techniques or knowledge to confidently continue any stroke for any given time without hitting exhaustion.
I signed up for Kevin's newsletter a very long time ago, just as I was beginning dipping my toes into the pool. I tried a few tips and techniques offered in the newsletter and was pleasantly surprised by the result. Mind you, I didn't keep training with those techniques, so I can't speak to their lasting effect.
The program itself is all online. (The primary way I can take programs these days.) There are several weeks worth of lessons - primarily in video format but accompanied by text. I find video crucial to understanding anything where body mechanics is involved. Fortunately, there are several videos showing swim techniques from above - and below - the water.
Not only this, but you receive what I consider to be a very valuable part of the program: a personal swim analysis by Kevin. Send him a video of you swimming and voila - personalized feedback. Unfortunately I didn't have time in the past month to do this, but I know this would be high on my priority list in the upcoming months.
On top of all this, you get a members forum, monthly chat with Kevin and other members, customizable plans....yeah. The program itself costs around $120 (6 payments of $19.97). While you might find information for free in the library, the videos, personal attention, and video review of your swimming is something that a book simply can't offer. One or two lessons in the pool would cost the equivalent of this and here, you get videos and lessons you can return to again and again, as well as ongoing support through the chats and member forums.
Of course, right after I accepted the invitation to review the program, our local pool at the YMCA closed for a week (for annual maintenance). When they did reopen, the pool heater was broken...so I had to adjust for the next two weeks swimming in water that was, shall I say, less than comfortable.
I will share right up front: I did not take advantage of nearly all the program could offer. In one month, I got through the first week of training videos -- to be honest, that was all I needed. It's not that I wasn't in the pool. It's that the drills that were offered for the first wave of training were plenty for me to practice. Within one day in the pool, I realized how far I have to go in my aquatic fitness.
Kevin does offer a trial period so I don't feel as though I'm spilling any deep secrets here: The course begins with kicking. As many others have been taught, I often thought kicking was to be minimized in swimming -- primarily in triathlon training. (After all, you want to save those legs for biking and running!) I was glad to be set straight.
While you are just supposed to focus on these (kicking) drills, my second day in the pool I did sneak in a couple of laps after doing (most of) the drills. I was thoroughly surprised at how easily I moved through the water! Not only did I feel like my overall speed had increased, but I swam farther with less exhaustion. And that was just after two days of kicking and balance techniques! (I'm pretty sure I giggled a bit when reaching the pool wall. I don't mind looking like a happy swimmer.)
I did find a few practical challenges: At our YMCA, the pool lanes are often quite busy. It is more often than not that we are required to share a lane...which doesn't leave much room for weaving. One technique requires you to stay stationary: I was able to do this one only a few times out of respect for anyone sharing my lane.
Other techniques involve balance - something that, oddly enough, in the pool I seem to lack. Obviously balance and focus are important (you don't want to veer very far off in a triathlon course -- you could needlessly add several meters to your swim)! However, practicing balance/staying on course is tricky when sharing a lane. I found myself breaking form (i.e. stopping the technique) simply to avoid hitting the other person. Such are the trials of an uber-beginner.
I can speak only to my 2-3 weeks in the pool and my results after having attempted a few of the videos. (I was able to catch the end of a chat where Kevin was answering questions as well.) Having acknowledged that, I feel that Tri Swim Secrets could be tremendously helpful to anyone looking to improve their swimming abilities.
I feel stronger and more confident in the water -- and to me, that is what it is all about. I have no doubts that by using this program I could improve my overall swim time and form. I also believe (which honestly, is more important to me) that I could swim easier and with less fatigue.
As of today, I have not invested in the program. I am deciding how this training will fit into my overall schedule -- primarily into my running schedule. (We are again debating if we are going to do the half marathon next spring which would take priority in my training schedule.) As my husband and I are confident we will be doing another triathlon, though, I can see myself purchasing this program in the near future.
My thanks goes to Kevin for allowing me the opportunity to review this and for creating such a rich program.