Making Swim Progress in a Virtual Setting (Video)
Swim Coach Lorna Trains Online with Endless Pools®
Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. And during the stay-at-home orders of 2020, Coach Lorna Richardson and her swimmer, Ben, innovated a new way to coach! They connect online, and Lorna watches Ben swim in the Endless Pools Performance model in his Ventura County, California home.
"We haven't missed one lesson," she says proudly. The owner of the Fluid Movement coaching, training, and massage studio, Lorna made this video to document her swim coaching progress with Ben.
Making Lemonade out of Lemons
The virtual coaching started when "he approached me." Lorna recalls Ben saying, "'I have an [Endless Pools Performance model]. I saw your website; I like what you do. Can we figure something out?'"
Lorna had no problem figuring it out. "I've taught people remotely before, so it wasn't a crazy notion." The camera set-up was the one potential obstacle, but fortunately for Lorna, "He loves that techie stuff."
Besides the many obstacles it created, the pandemic quarantine also created the opportunity for Ben to focus on improving his swimming. "He wanted to learn," Lorna notes, and "he had more time on his hands than normal. He works from home right now, and he wanted to maximize that down time and put it to some use."
Coaching with Endless Pools
"The beauty of [Endless Pools swimming] is that you stay in the same spot," Coach Lorna observes. "We have two cameras. You can do the underwater one with the GoPro," which is just one popular brand of 'action cameras' with underwater capabilities.
For Lorna to virtually coach a swimmer in a traditional pool, "You'd have to have a camera that tracks the person, or you have to get some poor [camera] person to follow along."
Of course, that's what swim coaches teaching in person have to do anyway – run alongside the pool to follow the swimmer, trying to maintain a clear view of their stroke while both are in motion. Endless Pools coaching resolves that problem for traditional swim coaching just as it does with virtual coaching.
Besides the unprecedented close-up views available with Endless Pools swim coaching, a swim coach can reach out to touch the swimmer to get their attention. Online, Lorna instead relies on a combination of technology and old-fashioned timing to communicate with Ben.
"He wears a headset at times where he can hear my voice underwater," Lorna says. Other times, "I'll tell him to swim X number of strokes. Or [have him set] a timer, and then he'll stop. I'll ask him what he felt, and then I'll tell him what I thought.
"There's less time spent being inefficient. The [Endless Pools current] allows that because I can stop him quickly before that becomes a habit."
Measuring Progress in the Pool
Lorna started their sessions by focusing on swim technique rather than swim speed. "It's very easy for a person to get carried away. It becomes all about time and speed and splits, and that's fine to play around with," she says; but during those critical early swim coaching sessions, the risk is "the integrity of the stroke falling apart."
The Endless Pools current has speeds expressed as common swim paces: time per 100 yards or meters. For their early sessions, Coach Lorna encouraged Ben to ignore that. "I didn't want him to get fixated on numbers in the beginning. The most important thing was working on technique and then challenging that with the strength of the current."
The constant speed of the Endless Pools current became their measure of progress. "As he stayed with the same [pace], he found that he was swimming into the [current housing] more, so we had to naturally increase the strength of the current." That was Ben's indication that he was swimming faster. "I wanted him to recognize that."
A Unique Swim Coaching Method
Over the years, Lorna has developed her own unique coaching method. She calls it "a combination of my own knowledge and trying to expand on the TI [Total Immersion] method." When working with swimmers, she's always "seeing patterns and thinking how I can work with that. Every person is different, and you just have to find that connection."
She had always been "sports-minded" and gained extensive experience as a physical therapist, both in aquatic therapy and land-based protocols. "I found I was getting pulled into coaching. I wanted to go out on my own and help people understand more."
She felt drawn to swimming specifically. "The beauty of it is that it's non-impact. It's something you can take well into your elder years, and it's just a great feeling."
Her core coaching principles include "simplifying everything and not rushing them. Listening to them – that's the big part."
Making Real-World Progress
Ben had told Coach Lorna that "he never really had instruction before," she recalls. "He could swim, but he knew that his technique needed significant improvement. He could feel his inefficiency. He wanted to swim stronger."
Months later, Lorna's virtual coaching helped him make progress with his swim technique. "He went down to Newport Beach a couple of weeks ago," and after swimming in the Pacific Ocean, "he said it was great. It felt so much more effortless than it ever had before because he was so much more relaxed.
"He knew what to do and could stay focused on the things we'd gone through." Ben told Lorna that he found that their virtual swim coaching sessions have been "super helpful."
And it's not over yet! "We're still continuing to work on technique, and now we're beginning to work on speed: changing the tempo up, changing the current up, doing some interval training. His big goal is to swim through an endurance race in open water."
Lorna and Ben are both enjoying the progress that they're making. In the video above, you can see what she sees after each session: "Big smiles all around!"
Interested swimmers can contact Coach Lorna Richardson via www.fluid-movement.net. This video and her testimonials are for informational purposes only. Endless Pools does not sponsor or endorse her coaching methodology.