Swimming In Sedona – What I’ve Learned from Others

Swimming In Sedona – What I’ve Learned from Others

A week of R&R and Swimming in Sedona, Arizona

Arriving for a week of rest and relaxation at a timeshare resort just outside of Sedona, I immediately checked out their swimming pool.

One of the reasons I picked the Sedona Pines Resort was because in the description of the facilities, it stated that their lap pool was the one if the biggest in Northern Arizona.


With the air temperature hovering in the upper 90’s, and the water temperature at a steady 81 degree Fahrenheit, it felt wonderfully comforting. I had become used to training in ocean temps in the upper 50’s during the winter months.

This is spring and with the controlled environment, I started to swim focusing on the techniques that I had learned from my fellow swimmers. Each day I swam about and hour – concentrating on improving my form.

What I have learned from others

The following are some of the techniques I have been practicing that I learn my fellow swimmers. Everyone has been very willing to share their swimming knowledge with me,with the goal of help me become a better, or as it usually stated – a more efficient swimmer.

I learned from Mike Leshnower that rotating my body and swimming on my side puts me in a better position to glide more and therefore swim more efficiently. It never occurred to me that I can gain distance by gliding – which required no effort at all. Thanks Mike – who is an amazingly efficient swimmer.

Jon Davis, Craig Dennis and Mike Leshnower

Jon Davis showed me a way to find a forward stroke potion that works for me. I found that when I extend my arms forward at the 11 and 1 o’clock position, it feels natural and most comfortable to me. Jon has been training for his first triathlon later in 2018. However, he had a recent setback due to a shoulder separation injury he experienced while falling off his bike while trying to avoid a car during a training ride. I hope Jon has a full recovery and successfully completes his first Tri.

Then there David Coldilli who is a torpedo in the water. His form is so streamlined and smooth that it appears to be effortless. I asked him how I can be a better swimmer. He gave me a one-word answer – “Volume”. I asked him what he meant by “volume”. He said the only way to becoming a better swimming is by swimming a lot. This is something that has stuck in my head and I am reminded of when I don’t feel like training me.

Rick Laird and Emily Hammer

Rick Laird gave me an insight into finding my underwater arm position. After an ocean swim when the water was particularly rough, we talked, and he described an approach that I describe as a “gorilla or wild-man approach”. It feels like I am more like a gorilla or wild-man when I use my lats rather than my shoulder or arm muscles to pull myself through the water. When I later watched some YouTube videos showing swimmers whose elbows were at 90 degrees as they powered through their stoke underwater – I knew what he meant. Rick is a great and gregarious guy and is a kiwi – ie from New Zealand.

Watching Emily Hammer swim is grace in motion. We swam together for about 2.5 miles on a 5-mile training swim. Fortunately, Mike Redmon who accompanied us on his kayak took some video. She creates no splash when bringing her arm forward and when it enters the water I front of her. It is beautiful to watch as she breaks the water with her fingers and then gracefully slides her hand just below the surface as she extends her arm out fully and completes her magnificent stroke. Emily is also one of the toughest people I know. She is willing to go the extra distance regardless of weather or swimming condition – something that doesn’t go unnoticed by the men in the regular swim group.

Ken and Anita Flagg with Glen Hawkins

Ken and Anita Flagg are wonderful caring couple. They are the de facto organizers of the north Country Tri swims. They were very welcoming of me in the group. Anita is an amazing artist. Ken looks out for the swimmers and usually does a head count before and at the half way point, to make sure nobody is missing. Even though he is an accomplished swimmer, he usually accompanies the slower swimmers. His very presence is encouraging and reassuring.

Joel Dorfan is an accomplished swimmer who uses the Total Immersion method of swimming to improve his efficiency.  He shared with me the following video of him in the pool.  His coach Stuart McDougal narrates the video and offers ways for him to improve.  All I know is that swimming is very technical and finding an efficient stroke is like the holy grail – a quest with no certain end.


There is a lot that I am learning from my fellow swimmers.

It’s been a pleasure to have a week swimming in a pool. After a week of training at altitude in sparkling 80 degree water in Sedona, I am now back in San Diego and gearing up to brave the 60 degree water for the Sunday morning Del Mar swim.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Diane

    Wow, Hillel, I’m in awe!!!! Good luck, swim safely and stay healthy!

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