Rolling Progress: July 15, 2013

posted Jul 15, 2013, 3:51 PM by Richard Sevenich   [ updated Jul 15, 2013, 3:56 PM ]

A few days ago (July 13, luckily) I performed my first unassisted, but witnessed roll. Today I hit 2 more, scattered amongst a number of failures. Obviously, I don't have a consistent roll, let alone both sides or bomb proof. Nevertheless, it is encouraging. It took several years of trying with an occasional lesson to get to this point. My excuse for such slow progress is that I am in my early seventies with a back whose flexibility is quite compromised by injuries incurred when younger. I think, in my case, brain age has made it particularly difficult to assimilate a sequence of new body moves - even when I understand the sequence. It seems that if I do one thing right, I forget another. Factors in my favor are that I am physically active, in decent shape, and work assiduously on my flexibility.

I am fortunate to have a younger friend, Matt, who likes to do reasonably frequent roll sessions. His rolls are now quite consistent, perhaps slightly better on one side than the other. On my attempts, he can point out what I "forgot this time" or make constructive suggestions. When we first started this 'program', I found being upside down under water quite disorienting. This surprised me at first - since (in my teens and early twenties) I had been a swimming pool lifeguard, swimming and lifeguard instructor, and generally comfortable in strange positions under water. It was just this season that my orientation sense really improved, making the roll-learning process feasible.

Perhaps my main motivator in learning to roll is the inefficiency of the so called 'self rescue' techniques. I've practiced various paddle float self rescues and assisted rescue techniques. These all become more difficult as the water gets rougher, particularly self-rescues - and that's when one is likely to capsize. Several days ago we had a day with quite rough conditions. Matt had no problem rolling up, perhaps just a bit harder than in calm water. That's a real motivator for me. If I have a dependable roll, I can recover quickly from an inadvertent capsize event and be immediately useful to any companions.

To be continued in further posts ...