For those of us that are not born seals, like Kris, you work, and work, and work, and work at your swim stroke. And even after all that work, you look over with envy and that guy or girl in the next lane because they are gliding along like it isn’t even a challenge.
I fight a never ending battle with swimming. If you don’t believe me, there’s a video of my technique on the bottom of this post. You’ll see there’s lots to improve. (Note: This video was taken before I got this book.)
In looking for books on swimming there are some that are like bibles and others like illustrated books for kids. I was happy to find The Essential Swimmer by Steve Tarpinian. This book is a nice manageable size, with good writing, aimed at swimmers of all levels.
I found this book to be short, simple, and to the point. His description of the free-style technique stroke is thorough and I don’t know why, but it finally clicked. It made sense and I could see and understand what he was talking about. (Note: Don’t read this book on the bus, you’ll want to practice the technique he describes and if you do this you’ll look a bit odd – I speak from experience here.)
The book may look a little old school since it uses illustrations, but I actually think they are more helpful and less distracting than full-color photos.
I also like that he thoroughly describes the phases of stroke cycle in one chapter. In the next, he diagnosis the most common weaknesses and flaws in the average swimmers stroke, followed specific drills to address each flaw. I really liked the organization and structure of this book.
Finally, I really appreciated the chapter about setting up effective workouts complete with:
- Main Workout
Long-time swimmers probably know this pattern without evening thinking about it, but for those of us that came to swimming later in life, knowing what to do, in what order, is very helpful.
The Bottom Line ~
If you are looking for an easy to understand, quick read on improving your swimming stroke than The Essential Swimmer is a great place to start. The majority of the book focuses on freestyle technique, but there are sections about the other big strokes, clothing, accessories, race starting techiniques, flexibility, etc. The book is very thorough without being overwhelming. The book is very affordable at a list price of $12.95.