LIBRARY - Reference(s)

Learning To Crawl Again [DVD]: Review by Carole Boggs.

AT Focus: 
Alexander Technique
2006-2015
Format: 
Article, essay
Language: 
English
Article, citation and copright
Article Text: 
Steven Shaw, Alexander Technique Teacher and former competitive swimmer, has been bringing these two disciplines together since 1990.He has revolutionized the teaching of swimming by focusing on finding ease in the water and investing strokes with spatial intention. I attended Shaw’s “Art of Swimming” workshops at both the Oxford Congress and the Richmond AGM. I find his work renews swimming as a pleasurable experience.

Shaw’s 25 minute DVD, Learning to Crawl Again offers ways to transform your front crawl into an easy forward propulsive approach to gliding through the water. He begins by introducing simple preparatory sequences for the viewer to practice on land and in the water, gradually building in complexity, culminating in the front crawl with alternate side breathing. Shaw demonstrates every exercise clearly, both on land and in the water, with voice-over narration. The demonstrations in the pool are filmed above water and underwater as well, so you can see what he is doing from many vantage points.

The presentation is divided into three lessons. Lesson #1 establishes basic skills on land for exploring balance and ease in the water with attention to arm direction, the use of the legs, and where to look. This lesson focuses on front and side floats, gradually adding underwater arm and leg actions. Lesson #2 develops the front crawl arm stroke. Shaw demonstrates arm movements to perform on land that are then practiced in the pool, first while walking upright in the water and then while swimming. Especially interesting is the notion of pulling yourself forward as though pulling on a rope, rather than pushing the water back in order to go forward. Lesson #3 adds breathing to the front crawl stroke. Shaw provides several preparatory sequences building up to coordinating arm action with alternate side breathing.

This DVD beautifully represents the skills Shaw teaches in his workshops through clear visual demonstrations of the movements. It may best suited as a reminder/refresher for someone who has attended an “Art of Swimming” workshop with him. I have found it especially helpful in reviewing as well as enhancing my understanding of this work.

I imagine that this DVD might be difficult to learn from if it is your only resource and you are a non-swimmer unfamiliar with the Alexander Technique. There is so much nuanced detail that goes by fairly quickly, and there is no hands-on guidance. My only criticism is a bit of unclear language in his voice-over; I would prefer that some of the verbal cues were more precise. That said, if you are an accomplished swimmer and versed in principles of the Alexander Technique, you may very well be able to pick up some ideas for improving your stroke.

Learning To Crawl Again is a clear and useful tool for improving the front crawl. The underwater and multi-angled photography is especially helpful in seeing clearly what this work has to offer.

Would that we could all eventually move out into open water, swimming off toward the horizon as Shaw does in the closing moments.

© Carole Boggs 2006. Reproduced with permission.

This edition © Mouritz 2006-2015. All rights reserved.