Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Going backwards

Tuesday.  Another pool session.

With The Shalder at the menders I was again in a stand-in craft, this time the ‘Lava’ Avocet.  The keeper of voles (and lover of tank tape) had customised it so that it wouldn’t get muddled up with all the other Lava Avocets (of which we have none)….

IMGP0245 Customisation

The session was as busy as ever and I was waiting a while for a shot.  Then I was told that if I was just rolling at the deep end, I wouldn’t count as another boat. More of a fixture.  Or perhaps a charted obstruction.

Mackayak appeared in her civvies and was handed the camera.  We looked at the roll on the left and we looked at the roll on the right. The right is rubbish.  I asked the surfing vet and the friend with gills to help me with it in Shetland and on that particular day it seemed fine, however, at the last few sessions, it has been no good at all.  Apart from that day in Eynhallow Sound when it was perfect.  Rolling.  A bizarre art.

Rolling at Scapa February 2010

Mackayak observed and decided my blade angle was wrong and that my sweep wasn’t enough of a sweep.  She decided that some video analysis was required.  Later, we decided that my body movement wasn’t the same on the right as on the left.  She came up with a plan: roll on the left and replicate on the right.  I won’t subject you to the 20 videos taken, but here’s one to show the difference between left and right.  I know my head is all over the place but by this point I was at least coming up, which was better than I was doing at the beginning of the evening.

Left, right, left, right, left, right

I suppose I should explain all the paraphernalia.  Why would you need a towline and VHF radio in a swimming pool?  Well you wouldn’t, but since it is cold outside, I am trying my best to replicate what I would wear outside inside.  Having all this gubbins about your person makes more of a difference to rolling than you might think so I am trying to learn to do everything I need to do with all the stuff in my pockets.  That VHF doesn’t work anyway so it might as well be put to some use. 

Having worked for a while on rolls, it was time to move on to something else.  This time, re-entry and roll.  It is always my roll that lets me down with this so I am trying to discipline myself to get the roll right, even if that means staying in the water a few seconds longer.  I know I can do it and I know I can do it well, I just need to make it bombproof!

Trying to apply some yoga calm

Moving on to self-rescues proved ok and on the side of the pool Mackayak had found a new game.  Timing me.  Over the coming weeks I shall have to try to get both slicker, quicker and bombproof on all three skills.  Hmmmmm.

Having taken a break from it, we then moved back onto rolling.  Mackayak’s comments had obviously sunk in.  I tried really hard to think about what I do on the left and then tried to do the same on the right.  I swept faster and wider and I really tried to move my torso with the paddle.  The last roll felt really good.  Mackayak said ‘stop’.  So I did.

IMGP0265 It works!

IMGP0267 Mackayak and Hairyaker coaching

At the end of the session, as Hairyaker, the keeper of voles and I loaded boats and kit into his van, I asked Hairyaker if I could borrow the Lava boat until The Shalder is fixed.  ‘Yes’, he said.  ‘As long as you promise not to pin it in the hole through Yesnaby Castle….’.



  1. LOL I wouldn't put it past you! Nice pic - that was a lovely day!

    1. Ermmm, I don't actually have a death wish! I would quite like to climb it though (then jump off and paddle home...)

  2. If you're leading with your right arm, try keeping a tennis ball under your left armpit. It keeps your arm/ body position more compact. If my rolling goes wrong, that's nearly always the problem