Christmas Swim: Choose the best tree for your home and Decorate it!
Did you ever have the opportunity as a child (or adult) to choose your own tree from a farm, cut it down and haul it back home…only to discover it was too tall or too short? I recall setting up a beautiful spruce in our living room when I was 9, 10, 11, 12…(it was a yearly ritual), only to have my father curse, take the tree out of the (&@#%) tree stand, Lay it down one the coffee table and slice off a 1/2″ segment with a orange handled hand saw. Some years this ritual repeated itself half a dozen times before the cursing stopped. Only when the tree was just the right height and standing up straight, did we string the lights–starting at the top– and then finally begin to decorate the tree.
This practice is inspired by that yearly ritual in three parts
- A) Choose the right tree for the house
- B) String the lights evenly form top to bottom
- C) Decorate and hang the ornaments.
Warmup: 500 – Choose the right tree
The tree you bring into your home needs to be just the right height. Not too tall and not too short. When you swim too tall, you risk stressing your shoulder, neck or lower back. Strive to have your posture “just right” so you’re tall from crown of head through heels, and your arm extends forward, but only enough to keep the line of posture and not force you to arch too tall when you extend
4 x 25 sequential focal points. Repeat three times total for 300 y/m total
- Point the crown of your head in the direction you’re swimming (Tall like a christmas tree)
- lengthen your spine by imagining a rope pulling you forward from the crown of your head.
- Gently squeeze your glutes as you extend the arm, feeling how good posture crosses the waist into the lower limbs as well
- Point your toes as you feel a long line form crown of head through your feet.
200 continues freestyle, rotating through any focal points above that felt most helpful
Set 1: String the Lights 1000
We String the lights starting at the top and try to space them evenly. In this set you’ll do a body scan from head to toe as you did in the posture focused warmup. Look for symmetry between right and left sides as you do so.
5 x 50 sequential focal points. Repeat for a total of 500 yds
- Head Stable – head doesn’t wobble side to side as you rotate the body with each stroke
- Arms extend on tracks – send arm forward as the body rotates, not across the body. Slide the arm out a little bit away from the center if you sense any crossing in front. Make each side even
- Shoulder Blade (not full shoulder) clears the water with each rotation. How far do you rotate? See if you can rotate “just enough”, so that the shoulder blade and back of shoulder clear the water, but the entire shoulder doesn’t come to air.
- Hips align with shoulders. The hips should rotate as a unit with the shoulders. Pay attention that when the right shoulder blade clears the water and comes to the surface, the right hip should come to the surface as well.
- Legs quietly respond – Try to quiet the legs instead of kicking the legs. Allow them to respond to the symmetrical rotation and stability created with the focal points above.
500 Freestyle Swim – Rotate or pick and choose from any of the preceding “top down” focal points as you string the lights on your tree. Occasionally check in to make sure that the height of your tree is still the right size for your room. In other words check in on your posture once every hundred or so.
Set 2: “Decorate the tree”
In swimming we can think of decorations as all the fine points that happen in the periphery of your stroke. Fingertips, toes, elbows, knees, nose, chin etc. These small body parts are of course attached to the bigger parts and usually follow where the core, shoulders and hips go. But directing awareness and attention to them can heighten your ability to improve quickly and make a smoother, more efficient and faster stroke.
4 x 75 rotate focus by 25
- Chin – is your chin jutted forward, pulled back, teeth clenched or face puckered? Focus on a soft chin gently drawn back to help align your cervical spine with good posture
- Elbow – allow your elbows to swing toward the sides of the pool building during your recovery rather than up towards the ceiling or behind your back. Pair this with the torso rotation focal point to really stabilize your side to side rotation with each stroke
- Knee – Focus on the back fold of the knee and try to keep it open and pressing gently toward the ceiling when you bring your leg up prior to your kick. This helps lengthen the legs by helping remove excess knee bend. Soften the knee during the down beat of the kick, then press the back of the knee toward the ceiling again.
300 Freestyle Swim – Rotate through each of these three “decorations” as you swim a continuous 300.