Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Swimming 101 is for Everyone

Members are quickly learning that the Swimming 101 class offered on Wednesday evenings at 6:00 pm may be not only one of the best resources offered at the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown, but also one of the best deals. Drop-ins of all skill levels are welcome to this weekly, year-round class taught by 10 year SAC veteran, Kate Sehulster.

In it’s nascence, the class was designed as a beginner class for those who were not advanced enough, were no longer swim-fit, or just didn’t feel comfortable jumping right into the 3000 yard swim conditioning classes challenging enough for some of the Northwest’s top triathletes and nationally ranked Masters swimmers.

The Swimming 101 class was immediately popular, though typically not exceeding 6-7 swimmers. The small class size allows the instructor to dedicate the ideal amount of attention to each swimmer. The class initially drew only beginner swimmers—some not able to swim whatsoever, as well as those who had taken a substantial hiatus from swimming as a sport. Many aspiring triathletes join the class as they discover that although they are in fantastic running and cycling shape, that fitness just doesn’t translate into the water. The class also welcomed a surprising number of members who were recovering from injuries and were sent in by their physical therapists for the low-impact workout that swimming provides.

Each swimmer, both beginner and advanced, gets in the water with their own specific set of challenges, both mental and physical. Instructor Kate Sehulster draws upon her 25 years of swim and coaching experience to find an approach to coaching that is tailored to each individual. That tailoring includes designing custom drills and employing visualization exercises. It didn’t take long before more advanced swimmers realized they could work virtually one-on-one with a technique specialist to fine-tune their stroke, get workout advice and leave with custom drill “homework” to incorporate into their routine.

The class is ever changing with new swimmers joining and others moving on as they achieve the fitness level and stroke quality appropriate for the more advanced swim conditioning classes, or they have met their personal goals—which for some was simply to be able to swim well enough not to drown if they fell off their boat.

Every week there are familiar faces and at least one or two new ones, but there is always an inspiring mix of personalities and experience. New swimmers are encouraged by more advanced swimmers who often give advice or share their own experience. Triathletes return to share their stories and triumphs. Individuals of all levels make breakthroughs in their stroke or beat their personal best times, all of which serve to inspire and motivate fellow swimmers and instructor alike.

Written by Kate Sehulster
Swimming Instructor, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

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