Image: Juan Gnecco /

Part of being Primal is being ready for anything. I’ve always prided myself on being up for doing anything and going anywhere – Whether it’s climbing a mountain, trekking through jungle, adventure racing, playing a sport or simply helping a friend shifting furniture or dig the garden.

In reality though, there has always been one area where I have felt totally out of my element – In the water.

When it comes to movement, the cat has always been one of my inspirations from the animal kingdom. They are nimble, agile and sure footed, able to sprint, leap and climb smoothly and silently. I would love to be able to move like a cat, yet unfortunately the only area I ever really achieved it was in the water – Splashing around ineffectively, a look of panic on my face, with no other thought than reaching dry land as soon as possible!

Blame it on the disgusting, eye burning, public pool we were supposed to have swimming lessons in when I was a child, or the dragon like swimming instructors that seemed to have chosen their career out of a love for sadism rather than swimming, but I used to make a habit of skipping lessons whenever I could.

For a long time I’d hidden behind the excuse that if we’d have been meant to swim we’d have evolved gills (conveniently ignoring the phenomenon of the mammalian dive reflex), but last year I decided that enough was enough and I should finally do something about it.

Swimming pools are still definitely not a place I wanted to be frequenting – Florescent lights, chlorine, sticking plasters and plenty of reminders of the effects of the modern diet are not my idea of fun – But the idea of open water swimming, free diving and being more confident when doing water sports such as kayaking and surfing certainly are.

I had got myself a copy of the Total Immersion Book and DVD, and had made some limited improvements in the pool on my own, but I was still unable to breath without sinking, and found myself swallowing half the pool as I went.

Thank-fully, some friends of mine recommended Dave Quartermain from who in addition to organising the Open Water Swimming sessions in Salford Quays, also offers swim improvement sessions and one to one coaching for adults.

Dave is a fantastic coach – He is clearly truly passionate about swimming, and has a great teaching style. Breaking down the stroke into easy to digest movement patterns, with a huge repertoire of drills to help solve all problem, Dave’s emphasis is on efficiency of movement and being streamlined in the water – Well in line with the Primal Movement philosophy.

Also of great help was Dave’s underwater camera, which enabled me to see exactly what I was doing wrong, and made it much easier to correct my movements. Though I find my proprioception/kinasthetic awareness on dry land to be pretty good – It clearly left a lot to be desired in the water! Hopefully I should be able to put up a before and after video in the near future (though I still need a bit more practice yet before I’m ready to be immortalised in film).

I would strongly recommend checking out Dave’s site: – Whether you are a complete beginner, or an experienced triathlete (as many of the other people on the 5 week course I attended were), his years of coaching knowledge and expertise will help turn you from floundering cat into a slippery fish.

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