Forever is a mighty long time, and I'm here to tell you:
I’ve heard it many times as I was coming up; “You have to find your forever stroke”. So, in response, I searched, and searched, and searched some more. I swam great distances in open water, and the pool in search, and did not find a forever stroke. There was never a singular lightbulb moment, where I thought, I’ve got it. I found a couple of things instead, and I believe that these may be the keys to a forever stroke.
1) Buoyancy is very important, I know this seems obvious, but for me, it’s extremely true. I’m rather muscular and dense, so my buoyancy comes from large lung capacity and efficient oxygen use. To assist in the longer swims, and to offset temperature, I have been known to pack on ten extra pounds prior to a long swim. This brings me to my second point concerning buoyancy, having a higher body fat percentage will assist providing buoyancy. A longer stroke pattern can also offset more water, allowing you to glide on top of the water. These are all factors in finding the forever stroke.
2) Strength, another obvious piece, but what specifically am I speaking of? A) Physical strength, just put in the hard laps, the miles in the wind and rain, and you’ll gain the physical side, good rule of thumb, if you can do it in a week, you can do it in a day. B) Mental strength, I call it the F-off button (This name came to me after 28 miles on a particular rough day, no intent to offend), it’s this magical button in my mind where I can tell my body to stop hurting (in a not to eloquent way). I’ve been asked if this can work in reverse, and I absolutely believe that it can. When it comes down to it, mental strength is what makes the distance. Once you have the mental side of things handled; the strength to operate under duress for long periods of time, and the mentality to clear great distances without stopping, then you have found your forever stoke.
So, is it a real thing?
In my experience there is no forever stroke, because if it exists, it will be made up of all kinds of stroke patterns. In search, I found a whole bunch of stroke flaws, and a realization that the swim stroke is something that cannot be perfected due to the continual morphing of conditions, physical and environmental. So "Forever Stroke" creates a contradiction, but maybe only in terms. Your muscles will fatigue, and your frame will begin to fail. I generally start with a deeper draw that fades in closer to my chest over time. My overhead cast, and entry point will change depending on how my upper back is feeling. I’ll vary my kick schedule, change stroke rates, depth, placement, you name it. In the end new distance hurts, and causes your body to run through varying cycles of failure.
So I’ll say this, if there is a forever stroke, it exists in your mind. If you find a way, if you persevere something that prior to completion you would have considered impossible, that’s a forever stroke. It will be unique only to you. In the end, it may not look much like a stroke at all, so just keep swimming, and do it with a smile.
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