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It’s hard not to feel dedicated when you find yourself part of a line of people carrying whitewater boats over your shoulders, across fifty yards of snow eight inches deep, from their storage spot underneath some stadium bleachers to the indoor pool, and back again later on. Especially after the session, effectively a full workout, the cold night air is refreshing, cooling off all the heat worked up inside.

It’s a bit of effort to get out there as well. Bereft of my car-equipped friend, I took the PATH train all the way out to Newark, and then local light rail to New Jersey Institute of Technology’s campus. It was about an hour commute, and remarkably cheap if you think about it, but still, an hour each way, plus another forty-five minutes to get home once I’d got back to the city. I was a tired pup the next day, but in a good way.

I’ve been working on my right-setup roll. I’ve got my left-setup roll down, both a sweep and a C-to-C (and, more often, what I actually do is like a sweep-to-C). On the opposite side I am developing the fluid body motion. I know what I need to do; my reflexes aren’t cooperating.

Step one, getting my hip flick. I realized that I simply wasn’t snapping my hip as well, so I practiced that a bit.

Step two, getting the paddle in the right place. I feel like I’m not reaching far enough with my forward (that is, left) arm, and I’m diving the paddle. I’m rotating, but at a cockeyed angle.

I am improving. I’ve been able to do one or two of these per session. I’ll give it two or three shots and then if I’m running out of air, I’ll switch and come up on the other side.

One more thing: nose plugs. These make such a huge difference for practicing. True, in a real life situation you won’t have them, but for practice, going in repeatedly, they’re great. Without them, a couple of rounds of chlorine will force me to take a break. With them, I can go, and keep going, and really take the time underwater to figure out what’s going wrong.

Published in 2014 Backpaddle


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