My fitness goal for the next 12 months is to do an Olympic-length triathlon with an outdoor swim , where I do the entire swim using front crawl. But one obstacle to this is that I can't actually swim front crawl. I learnt to swim at a swimming club when I was about seven, but just as I was about to move onto learning front crawl, the swimming club's evening switched and it clashed with cubs. The choice was clear - cubs it was!
(In fact I rather enjoyed cubs and scouts. I played football for my troop, went camping every year where I once got hit on the head with a horseshoe, performed in 3 Gang shows including several solo and duet pieces, once hit the troop flag on a clock in a church . . . . )
For the moment I have been trying to teach myself crawl by watching videos on Youtube and practicing what I've seen as part of my morning swim at Faringdon. I swim part of a length in my usual breast stroke and then finish the length in front crawl. Progress has been slow but there has definitely been progress. My main issue has been that I'm taking on water into my mouth at some point in my stroke and that this is throwing out my breathing. I am also very unbalanced in the water
One big leap forward was when I tried to really slow the stroke down. This produced an immediate improvement in my balance. Next, I realised that I wasn't rotating properly to my left side and this was both affecting my left arm movement and was slowing down my rotation towards taking a breath to my right. Maybe I should breath every three strokes (i.e. alternate side). Some people in the pool's fast lane do that. But for the moment, I am sticking to right-sided breath every two strokes.
So I am constantly critiquing my efforts, trying little changes, and gradually I have been improving. First I could do just 4 or 6 strokes before I come spluttering to the surface, then 8 to 10. Gradually getting things better each day.
Finally, today there was an important milestone passed as I managed to swim one complete length of the pool (25m) without any breathing issues or balance issues, or taking on water. True I did struggle to do a second length, but nonetheless, this is definitely progress.
I can now swim 1/32nd of the required distance using front crawl.