Yesterday in the lake I invented a new swimming stroke. Of course, when I got home I found it had only been rediscovered. It goes by the name back double-trudgen. But that didn’t diminish the joy of reaching for a new rhythm, refining the coordination and finding how quickly it became smooth and natural.
Instructions: On the back, roll alternately left and right, with one inverted scissor kick on each side. (“Inverted” refers to the fact that the bottom leg goes forward, the top leg back, so that the rolling motion is less intense.) Once the alternating kick feels natural and easy, add an overarm stroke, like a backstroke. When the arms are synced with the legs, you’ll find that the weight of each arm helps pull the body from side to side and that the force of the arm stroke comes in between leg thrusts, creating a smooth, gliding sensation.
Advantages: The stroke offers a double dose of that gentle twist that makes swimming so beneficial for aging low backs. The eyes are looking up at the clouds and the breath is free, so more energy can be expended without that unpleasant feeling of not getting quite enough air. The largest muscles in the body, thighs and torso, are used to advantage. (With the flutter kick, I find that legs use a lot of energy for the amount they contribute to forward motion, unless I use flippers.) Alternation of the arms and legs means that the thrust is spread through the cycle, which is more efficient than the thrust-glide-thrust-glide rhythm that characterizes breast stroke and sidestroke.