How YouTube taught me how to swim

by Kavita

6 years ago, I joined swimming lessons in Brisbane, Australia where I paid per lesson. After a couple of classes, I could float and also learnt the leg movement for freestyle swimming. But even after 10 sessions, I was unable to ‘swim’, or more technically, breathe in the right way. That was the end of my first real attempt at learning how to swim.

Last year (2013), I joined another monthly group class in Bangalore. The teacher turned out to be as strict as Adolph Hitler but sleazy like no 56-year old. Yes, the second and the last class was a disappointing revelation of the wrong kind of teacher to learn anything from. My cousin and I went out looking for another school, teacher or just a pool to try some stunts in. I was getting desperate to learn the essential life skill. I found a pool guard who offered to train me. Just watching him swim calmed me down like good music, and inspired me like a great painting. My aspiration found a definition. Alas, I couldn’t keep up with the schedule, and the discipline to follow through the course.

This year, I moved to San Francisco and from the balcony of my 8th floor flat, I saw the beautiful landscape pool, dug in the middle of the concrete jungle. I decided to jump and find my way. No, I didn’t jump from the balcony.

One of my friends had told me about good YouTube video lessons to learn from. I decided to play.

Week 1 & Week 2 – Freestyle swimming

I got the hand movement right, my breathing position became comfortable and I developed a standard speed of movement. There was a noticeable spike in my stamina, and I was able to do 10 laps, each lap of 100 feet by the end of Week 2.

The two videos that helped me were :

How to pull under water

How to swim faster

I continued to practice these till I got better.

Week 4 & Week 5 : Breaststroke

The most beautiful style to watch, I think, is butterfly stroke. There are many great swimmers, who display power and speed. Breaststroke, however, makes swimming look like yoga. The life guard did try to teach me the stroke, but I had trouble bringing my head up.

It’s after a few videos that I realized I had registered the wrong order of the leg and hand movements. In the failed attempts, I had tried to move all limbs together but one is supposed to alternate the hand and leg movements. Based on the videos, I tried the strokes through the width of the pool in 4 feet water. A few short sessions went in to develop the correct final form. Few days later, I started my laps with breaststroke and continued in freestyle for the deeper end. Gradually I increased the duration and length for breaststrokes and to my amazement, I was able to cover the entire pool like a butterfly in no time.

That was the day I decided to acknowledge how immensely useful YouTube swimming videos are.

Simply Swim – Perfect Breastroke

Speedo (Slightly more instructional)

And here I am, swimming through a pool in my friend’s apartment (I didn’t do my sessions here).

Of course, a swimming pool in your apartment area is a big advantage and that accelerated my learning as well.

I hope to be able to dive someday soon.