I was working with a client this morning and we were talking about swimming on the back. New swimmers have some discomfort with swimming on the back because (a) they can’t see where they are going and don’t want to hit the wall, and (b) they can’t swim straight and don’t want to hit other people. Here are some simple thoughts from a lifetime backstroker on how to get around public pools. The alternative is constantly stopping or craning your neck to see the end of the pool which doesn’t let you get into rhythm. This article will help you swim Backstroke, Elementary Backstroke, or any of the backstroke development drills.
1) Backstroke Flags are your friend — If your facility has backstroke flags, rejoice. If the pool designer isn’t an idiot, those flags are exactly 15 feet from the wall. When you pass under the flags, you know that the wall is coming up. You can count how many strokes it takes to get from the flags into the wall.
2) Look for “signposts” on the ceiling or on the side when you enter the pool — Look for things in the room that can help you get your location in the pool — a lifeguard chair, a ladder, lights on the ceiling. For example, my pool at X-Sport has fans put across the pool at equal distances. I know that I’m getting close to the wall because I’ve passed under the 4th fan. If I’m in an outside lane, I also look for the ladders.
3) Use the lanelines — You can keep the laneline in your peripheral vision to help you stay on course. You can also tell when you are 15 feet from the wall when the lane lines go to a solid color from alternating color bands. Check to see if you have that type of lane line, but that can be an alternative to using the flags.
4) Look for lines, grooves, or tracks on the ceiling — If you are trying to swim straight, look for lines, grooves, or tracks on the ceiling and always stay under the same “line.” That will help you swim straight.
5) Count your strokes — If you are fancy schmancy and have a well-developed stroke, you can count your strokes and use the stroke count to tell you when you are coming to the wall
As you practice, I’m sure that you’ll come up with your own system. I just thought that I’ve never mentioned this to my learn-to-swim and new backstroker crews.