Monday, December 31, 2007

Year 2007 is Over - Some Thoughts on Goals and Achievements

2007 has turned out to be a good year for me as far as middle age and swimming goes. I'm finding the goals I've set are achievable and have pushed me further than I really ever imagined. I was hoping to beat 500,000 meters and passed it early this Autumn. I started out doing 2100 meters per session and finished the year doing an average 3500 meters in a session which for me was unimaginable just a few short years ago. I finish the year with just over 369 miles under my belt (ok, swim suit string), in just under 250 swim days. Don't know what aging and time availability will bring in the coming years, but for now I feel I'm on the right track. These long-term goals are where it's at for me and I encourage all to try similar tactics. I'm making a lot of friends along the way. Happy New Year everyone! Here's to a wet and wild 2008!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Does Breaking the Routine Pay Off?

Unlike every other day this year, I changed my routine a little yesterday to try to achieve a distance goal for the end of the year. In my case, I added 20 percent to my distance. Wow, what a difference it made to my feeling of accomplishment, endorphin kick (it lasted all day long), and just plain physical feeling (pumped up). Generally one day has been the same as all the rest. This change really made me feel better. I'm a routine oriented person which is probably why I can swim laps day in and day out. I've worried about changing my routine because I've not wanted to create a reason to not workout. This small change which added about 15 minutes to my workout seems to have made a big change in my attitude. I'm wondering if other alterations may do the same?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Would you dare to do a flip turn?

Check out this pool with the glass wall overhanging the edge of a multi-story building. I think a simple flip turn might be ok, but the slam? Not!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Train in Snow

Something else I found on Nothing to do with swimming here, but check out the wave! Thanks! I look like this when I'm swimming through still water ... ha ha.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Martin Strel Recognized Among Giants

What do Al Gore, Jacques Yves Cousteau, Prince Albert of Monocco and Sir Edmund Hillary have in common with swimmers? Martin Strel! The first three have been recipients of the Honour of Ekotopfilm in Slovakia - now adding Martin to the list.

But that's not all. Strel, famed swimmer of the Amazon, has joined the likes of several polar explorers, scientists and adventurers including world famous Sir Edmund Hillary in receiving Poland's Explorer Award.

I'm glad to see Martin's accomplishments are getting the world wide recognition they deserve.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A new way to post

This post will have nothing to do with swimming, but it will be about this blog for some future posts.

A year ago during Christmas of 2006, I received as a gift, Dragons NaturallySpeaking - the speech recognition software product. I was excited about it since I am a techie and installed it and tried it out right away. The computer I was using was a unit built in 2004 - a laptop. Needless to say the power was not quite what I expected was necessary to do speech recognition. But last week I purchased a 2.4 GHz dual core AMD unit with 3 GB of RAM. Now the speech recognition is flawless. Or nearly so. I'm hoping that this will allow me to do better posts at least posts that are more readable. Like the spoken word, because actually they are the spoken word.

For the record, the majority of this post was composed by spoken word. Cool huh?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Can Rest Make You Faster?

Can rest make you faster? When I take a long time off from swimming - say, over three days - I am definitely feeling the need to work hard just to do a comfortable speed. If I take a weekend off, I feel great on Monday and can usually go full bore. If I take no time off (go weeks without a break), I can get sore and take almost my whole workout just to get loose. So given all this, I see there is a fine line between taking too much time off and too little. Finding that perfect mix of "efforting" and rest is a delicate balance. I've found five days of swimming and two days of back-to-back rest is about perfect for me. I usually do some sort of physical activity on the two days off, but its usually not swimming (laps). I've heard that this recovery time is good for muscles to allow them to grow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Milestone #4 Completed - Swam Lake Michigan (Length)

I've completed my fourth milestone in my swim the Atlantic challenge begun 1/2/2007. Today I finished the equivalent distance of the length of Lake Michigan (from Gary, Indiana to Manistique, Minnisota - 320 miles). To date I've done the English Channel, Lake Michigan's width, Cuba to Miami, and this Lake Michigan length swim (all from the comfort of a chlorinated pool). Next goal is Bermuda from New York City. Don't see that happening until end of next year at the earliest. Must find something I can achieve between now and then to keep these dominoes falling and my enthusiasm going. Any ideas?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fight Your Instinct toTwist

This morning I was reading the newspaper and a photo of a swimmer caught my eye. The caption said the person pictured was in a Masters swim program. Figuring the swimmer would have good form I studied the picture and was surprised to see she had her head turned to catch a breath of air, but her upper torso (waist up) was twisted so she could pick her head up (to breathe). Picking her head up???!!! A Masters swimmer should know better! She must be new to the program or doesn't listen well (we all know some of those). Well versed swimmers know to roll their bodies when they do freestyle and to allow their head to turn along with their bodies - as one (like you might turn a pencil when holding the eraser). For the less experienced, it's perfectly natural to attempt to roll and end up with an awful twist like the photo I described. It's got to hurt your back and cause undue strain and unnecessary "efforting". Follow my advice and use the straight pencil analogy. This will take some practice, particularly with keeping your head down while you breathe. You only want your mouth to come out of the water. Surprisingly, there is a small pocket of air that forms right below your forehead where you need to breathe (thank fluid dynamics for that or we'd all be twisting). Keep one eye under the water and the top of your head pointed at the wall ahead of you - and open your mouth in that pocket. This will eliminate the twist and I promise, your whole body will be happier for it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

#1 Tip on Getting the Killer Swimmers Body

If you are reading this post in anticipation of a get slim fast tip is, think again. Such ideas are the stuff of legend. The only way you can get a killer, swimmers body is to stick with the program. I'm not there yet (probably never will be at my age), but I've noted after many years of swimming a distinct change in my body mass and physique. The first change I noticed was muscle tone. That happened fairly quick. Just using my muscles made them less flabby. I also noted my upper torso got larger but fell back to my love handles whenever I took a week off. The real changed have happened over the course of several years as I made swimming part of who I am - not when I was just swimming casually. After I started to take the sport seriously, I noticed body changes that I never even expected. My shoulders are larger, my thighs and lower legs much thinner, and my face skinnier. None of this happened overnight. I'm guessing this is true of most exercise programs for most sports. The sports gods we all see on TV and on the sports pages didn't just get that way from a few weeks of working out. They did it by making their sport part of what they are. By doing so, they become part of it. So if you are exercising to get toned, that's cool ... it won't take long. If you want that killer swimmers body, it takes a lifetime.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

How to Adapt to Your Environment

Many times in life we face an environment can seem so intimidating you just say "screw it" and quit. Such times are quite frequent when you are starting an exercise program. The new environment that you are introducing yourself to can seem almost alien, uncomfortable, perhaps even painful. Yet, if you look out there you'll see plenty of people who have managed to taken on that exact "alien" environment and overcome it and thrived. Swimming can be like that. Go to any lap pool and you will see some folks floundering and a few streaming through the water like dolphins. Are they any different than the flounder? No, they've just figured it out. If you desire to swim well, I encourage you to take the time to learn the basics. Read on the subject - this blog (and many other places on the internet) is a great place to start (see archives). Be sure to get your doctor's ok, if you are not used to exercise - you don't want to go in too fast, adaptation takes time. Once approved to proceed, when it gets tough, you can still say "screw it" but instead of quitting, face up to the effort you are going to need to expend. If you go home sore, say "screw it" again and put it out of your mind. Go back for another workout. Believe it or not, if you maintain a routine, you will adapt to the change in your environment. Realize that change takes time, but change will happen. Soon you will be swimming with the fishes - in a good way.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Update on SF Bay Oil Spill

Here's a link to a SF paper with a lot of photos and video of the oil spill. Doesn't look good folks.

If anyone is wondering why I keep posting this stuff its because of a fascination I developed when I stumbled across the SF Bay Dophin Club one day when I was visiting the Bay area. I was amazed at the swimmers who braved the cold waters. I also thought the clubhouse was "way cool."

Milestone Reached

Sometime last year when I was doing some laps and trying to make my fuzzy brain (it gets that way when I work out) do a simple distance swam calculation, I figured out that I could achieve a respectable distance goal and complete a half-million meters in a year, if I just followed my regular routine. Well today's the day, campers - I hit the mark and then some - it isn't even the middle of November yet. As of this AM, I'm at 501,555 meters since Jan 1, 2007. That's over 10,000 circular laps or over 20,000 lengths of a 25 meter pool. These numbers amaze me. Hope I can keep it up. These milestones help for sure.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Flash: Tsumani Reported Heading toward English Coast

Just found this flash on Drudge. A tidal wave has been reported heading toward the English coast. Daily Mail is reporting "Extreme Danger to Life"! Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex coastlines are at risk. OK, Channel swimmers, iSplashDog says get the hell out of there. You've got some time, but don't waste it. Surfing crowd, don't be too cool for the rule. Good luck mates.

Update on SF Oil Spill - Bad News

The Coast Guard reported last evening that 58,000 gallons had spilled as a result of yesterday's cargo ship mishap in the SF Bay. The slick has spread and is as far as Alcatraz (we were worried about that - see yesterday's post). Here's a link with more details. It ain't pretty folks. Let's hope they can clean it up fast.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Another Flash: Oil leaking in SF Bay ... Swimmers and Birds Beware?

Mercury News is reporting that a cargo ship has hit a bumper (is that a pylon or something like that?) in San Francisco Bay and may be leaking oil. How much? Dunno. Hope it doesn't impact my peeps who swim from Alcatraz. Yes, some of them do oil up first - ironic, isn't it? Here's a web cam, courtesy of CBS, shows a ship (Is that the ship? CBS isn't saying, I just did a search and found what looks like something that appears to be a ship under a bridge in the bay - I'm a great researcher, huh? LOL). Kind of small so it's hard to see. The ship is reported to be near Treasure Island.

News Flash: Ian Thorpe Gets to Keep Bling

Ian Thorpe, five time Olympic gold medalist, has been cleared on doping charges! This BBC news item presents the facts and some good back links.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

How to Fight Lap Swimming Boredom

When I tell people what I do for exercise, I often get replies such as, "I would swim, but its so dull going back and forth ad nauseum." Well, I don't claim to have the secret to fighting lap swimming boredom, but I've done it long enough to agree it can get dull. Here are some of the things I do to keep up my enthusiasm.
1. Set goals (both mini and macro) - achievement makes it all worthwhile and pulls you back time and again
2. Use other swimmers like racing dogs to the rabbit at a dog track. Try to catch and pass them. Then do it again, and again. If they are too fast, just track your progress relative to them with markers in the bottom of the pool like the drain or lights. Note where you are when you pass the other swimmer even if they are going the other way, then when you get to the same spot the next lap, see if you have increased any distance between you and that swimmer (or have they gone faster than you?).
3. Watch other swimmers' swim style (under water). If they are better than you, try to determine what it is that makes them better then try it yourself.
4. Watch what is going on around you. Things are always changing and just noticing little things can get your mind off the repetition you are doing.
5. Wear a digital watch. During your turns, note your time. I often like to do mental math to calculate simple things like speed and laps to go in how long, etc.
6. Change up your stroke. I do freestyle primarily, so one might think I'm stuck, but I'm not - I change the sides I'm breathing on. I work one side for 400, the other side for 400, then change the breathing rhythm e.g., 5,3,change sides 5,3 ... 5, change sides 5, etc.
7. If none of this works ... Some people listen to tunes or even audio books using a sealed MP3 player with special ear buds that keep the water out.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More on Drafting - The Basics

In my last post, I provided a short silly clip of my kids' goldfish. I said they were drafting. They really weren't since they were barely moving, but the point I wanted to make can be seen be watching their positioning and the move the fish in the back makes to sprint to the front. You really can draft when you are swimming, but few folks know this because swimming adjacent to another swimmer or right behind is so rare. Usually we are in separate lanes. Only kids on swim teams who are advanced usually know this trick. Try it yourself sometime. You'll need a friend or someone who won't be weirded out by you swimming so close. You might ask a regular during your lap-time to try it out with you. You'll both get a kick out of it, I promise. To take advantage of the flow of water being pushed behind the swimmer in front of you, stay within about two to five feet of the front swimmer's feet and a little bit to the side. You don't want to get too close or be too far away. You want to be in the wake of the front swimmer it is the strongest. If you do it properly, you will notice that you can reduce your "efforting" considerably while you are in the drafting position. It can almost feel like you are swimming without even trying. If you don't understand this description, watch the goldfish video. It's a great example of swim drafting. Really!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

How Drafting Works - A Demo

I was experimenting with my new cell phone and took a short video of my kids' fish tank. When I played it back in YouTube, I was floored. The fish were drafting. Take a look for yourself. The fish in the back enjoys the slipstream of the fish in front, then at the right moment, sprints ahead. Just like a pro!

Friday, October 26, 2007

How to Swim in an Overheated Pool

Indoor pools are notorious for being too hot for lap swimmers. Unless the pool managers have made a concerted effort to attract lap swimmers with cooler temps, one can expect the indoor pool to be very warm - too warm for any serious lap swimmer (leading to early fatigue and body hydration loss). Then there are the schizophrenic pool heaters that are either on or off (too hot or too cold). Pools with these dysfunctional heaters are "like a box of chocolates ... you never know what you're gonna get." I come from the school of the schizophrenic pool heater so my advice is based on that. This leads to the question, if hot water lap pools are so pervasive, what is the best way to swim in them and still get a good workout. Here are my ideas:
1. Always bring a water bottle pool-side and drink from it regularly throughout your workout. Some non-lap swimmers may think a water bottle pool-side is loco (crazy). No! You will get hot if you are doing any significant workout in a hot pool and you will sweat and lose body fluids. You just won't notice it.
2. Don't go at a high-speed for a long period in hot water. You can do sprints, but take lots of breaks at slower speeds or do some wall-hanging to let your body recover (just like you might on a hot day on an athletic field).
3. I like to use the hot water days as a good time to do long-pull, slow swimming. This builds the muscles and is a great way to perfect your form (e.g., roll, stretch, arm position, etc). You can use cold water days for the cardio.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Kickboard Techniques that Build Speed

Several years ago I saw two young women with a college team logo on each of their swim caps using kickboards, seemingly gliding along parallel to one another and chatting amiably. What was most interesting was not any of this, but that they were going very fast, and their "efforting" didn't seem to phase them at all. Their conversation was animated and they weren't breathing particularly different than had they been walking down the street. I'm guessing they were averaging one minute per 50 meters. The speed to them seemed inconsequential. Obviously, those two women had some speed secret I did not share.

Ever since, I've striven to have a strong kick. Not to chase the women - though that might come in handy should that pair ever return - but to build up my swimming speed. I devote twenty percent of my workout to the kickboard and have found it has definitely helped my overall swimming performance.

In the several years since I first saw those kickboarding women, I've found a few techniques that have built my speed:
1. Lift my toes out of the water to maximize my leg length and depth of my kick
2. Keep my legs as straight as possible for maximum sized paddle thrust and kick from the hip.
3. Whip my legs like one whips a rope (kick from the hip - see #2). The whip action promotes a stronger leg thrust than your typical back and forth leg motion.
4. Focus on the whole leg rather than the ankles and feet. Feel it in your belly.
5. During the kickboard period - I do it at the end of my workout - do periodic sprints to the point of getting yourself nearly out of breath and legs burning. I use key points in the pool as my starting and stopping points.
6. Don't lie on the kickboard. Push it out in front of you and extend your body to its full length.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cold Water - The Barrier to Entry

Today while I was resting along the wall following my workout, a man of about 35 years, two lanes away, had just jumped in. He looked over at me and exclaimed how cold it was. I figure the water temp was somewhere between 80 and 82 degrees F. I told him I thought it was perfect and that he just needed to get moving. Was I being sanctimonious? I don't think so. I perceived a good chill when I touched my toe to the water before I entered. When I had gotten in, I had put my experience to work and jumped, feet first (can't dive in the pool ... someone says I might hurt myself - yeah, right!), angling my head forward so the water slapped my chest. It forces me to ignore the chill that might envelope my body upon entry and instead forces me to focus on the slight sting from the slap of the water. Still, I suppose, I had to learn that over time. People who don't swim routinely don't know these sorts of tricks. So I'm wondering, how many people don't use the pool for their exercise routine simply because they don't know that the water temp will be just fine once they establish a sense of understanding and give it a minute? How does one explain this? Kids just jump in - cold water or not - and they end up staying there? Why are adults such weenies?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Novel Swimming Gadgets I'd Like to See

The NIke people recently released a tie-in with iPods (I guess they didn't want to be the last ones) that allows a runner to link his/her shoes wirelessly into the player so the player can tell the runner to speed up or slow down, etc. Cool, or what? I think swimming needs more gadgets. Let's start with lap counters. They seem to only show up in competitive swimming pools. Really, they are needed in everyday lap pools - folks need to see they've done two laps. It might inspire them to do another. Really, though, lap counting to me is a daily chore. I'd much rather focus on something other than what lap I'm on when I'm doing anything longer than 400 meters. How about those rabbits that the greyhounds chase at dog tracks? Some racing LEDs along the lane line in the bottom of the pool would work for me. Then there's laser tracking and targeting. Every pool should have something that zaps the occasional clueless lane partner who strays into your part of the lane. I've read they're working on heads up displays for goggles. I even linked to them once or more in this blog in the past. Besides the lap counting function, speed, etc. I think some good cinema would be in order for these babies. I know these are somewhat off base, but why not? Any other suggestions?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Why Swimming is Doomed

Swimming may be doomed. The signs are all there. The population is aging, so more and more of us are embarrassed to even put on swim suits. The boards of most organizations that make decisions about swimming facilities have few if any swimmers to vouch for why money should be spent on them, much less how they should be designed - deep pool more than four feet? Why?, a pool longer than 25 yards? Why? Extended season past Labor Day? Why? Diving boards? Why? They've kept larger pools around because they are marquee facilities that are great to show off to attract new membership. But are these people really using them? Sadly, only a few of us still use them as they were intended. Mostly pools have become grand patios with a pretty view. A good place to catch intense sun rays - and now we hear that's bad for you. In place of grand facilities of the early to mid-twentieth century, we now see these new replacement trends: small, heated pools for soaking aching joints, heated large pools for (see previous entry), shallow pools because people can't stand up in deep water and haven't learned to tread water. Will people ever again truly appreciate the value large, deep pools? It's doubtful. The skill set is being lost. If most people never even learn to tread water, future decision makers certainly won't make the sacrifices necessary for people to enjoy these facilities. The next generation will never have had the chance to even had experienced what a good pool is. Those that survive will be a novelty. I think swimming, as we know it, is doomed.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Breast Stroke Caution - Swimmer's Knee

You may have noted in this blog a sad limitation in content - that is I've focused almost entirely on freestyle technique, leaving out all the other strokes. There's a good reason for at least one of these being missing - related to a health problem I've had with breast stroke. A health problem? Yes! I don't really know if there really is such a thing, but I know I get what I call Swimmer's Knee when I do the breast stroke over an extended period of time and it isn't fun. The symptom isn't painful, but certainly can lead to other problems. What is "swimmer's knee"? To me, it's simply loose, wobbly knee. It presents itself most clearly out of the water - when I go down stairs. The muscles around my knees stay loose (from the exercise, I guess) and don't hold the knee in place to support my stepping down. The result is the center of my leg at the knee joint, flops over to the side, involuntarily, and I tumble if I don't grab a stair rail or wall fast. Frankly, it's scary when it happens because it could lead to a sprained knee or a fall down the stairs. To keep from incurring a personal disaster, I stopped doing much breast stroke. This may be limited to me, but I caution anyone else with long legs who does much breast stroke. Hold the railings when you go down flights of stairs, or you may go down much faster than you ever expected.

Monday, October 08, 2007

How Pointing Your Toes Helps with Speed

What's the value of pointing your toes in the flutter kick? By that, I mean lifting your toes up higher than the highest point your heels go in your upward kick. Over and over this past Summer, when I was using the kickboard, I heard advice to point my toes. It perplexed me. All it ever seemed to do was to cause my calf muscles to cramp up and my thighs to burn. But since the advice was so repetitive, I kept working on it. The result? More speed. I really never found additional speed using the kickboard, but when applied to the freestyle flutter kick, the additional speed was noticeable. I believe the additional force of that extra leg extension and the small additional distance added to the vertical kick itself is where the extra speed comes from. If you are trying this yourself, give yourself time to build up the muscles in your legs - a few months. It's not easy, but you'll find you go faster over time.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How to Get that Big Kick and Win

Have you ever watched a swim meet and seen someone really sprint ahead just before hitting the finish? Are you wondering how he/she did that? I've found a secret that seems to work for me. I'm not saying this is sanctioned by professional coaches, but like I said before, it works for me. Instead of flutter kicking faster, I just kick bigger. I force my legs to go deeper (several inches more than my usual flutter) and from that I get a much stronger push forward out of the whole motion. I learned this watching an adjacent lap swimmer who seemingly was equal to me except for his deep kick. He just seemed to go further than me for every stroke. I couldn't figure it out until I tried the deep kick myself. Suddenly I was even with him again - even passing him! Of course, it wore me out almost immediately. I need to train myself to be able to sustain the big kick. I still can't maintain it for long, and don't know if I want to, but it comes in quite handy when I want to catch up to someone or sprint ahead to win an even match. In the latter case, I don't apply it until I'm nearing the finish. That's when I open up the afterburners, kick deep and fly ahead. Try it and see for yourself. You might start winning more than you ever expected.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Fountain of Youth in a Chlorine Bath?

It's October 1st and I've officially started back to short-course swimming (25 meter pool). Swimming indoors has its advantages (the wall is usually closer - ha ha) but I'll sure miss the beautiful and warm sunshine on my back as I swim through the cool Autumn water, breathing in the crisp fresh air. I find that combination totally invigorating. Keeping with that theme, I was pleasantly surprised to see an ad on the entrance door to the pool promoting the Masters swim team and the pitch - get this - was that adult competitive swimmers stall the effects of aging - retaining muscles tone, maintaining good blood pressure, etc. - by one to two decades! It said that this was a University of Indiana research finding (will have to check that out - anyone have a link?). Stalled aging - so that's why I act like I'm fourteen and keep this blog.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

U.S. Pond Scum Breeding Beasts

Have you heard the one about the boy who did a cannon ball into a pond and ended up dying a couple weeks later because some water got up his nose? I'd like to say I'm kidding, but I'm not. Read this.

As it turns out, there is a rare amoeba called naegleria that lives in the glop in the bottom of some fresh water sources (ponds, etc.). If it gets up your nose (such as from splashing), it can tunnel into your brain and well ... you'll be doing the high-dive from above the clouds after that. From the article, it sounds like this creature is rare. I just hope this doesn't spread. I can't believe it's right here in the USA. Sounds like something out of the Amazon, or some Steven King book.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Martin Strel - New Book Out + Update On His Health

I got an email today (weee!) from the AmazonSwim newsletter people. It had good news and some kind of icky bad news. I could never do it justice, so below is a good chunk of it - straight from the newsletter. I encourage everyone to pray for the Feeesh Mawn's speedy recovery. Meanwhile, I'll be getting my copy of the book real soon. PS I need to add Amazon River to my swimming goals (pool laps, of course).

"Hello to all of Martin’s fans. Martin had to seek medical care last week after he was diagnosed with parasitic flatworms in his bloodstream. It took five months for the little guys to set up camp in his veins and lay eggs before the symptoms were noticed. He’s been treated with some heavy antibiotics and is now feeling better.

The Man who Swam the Amazon, Martin’s book, is now available. If you enjoyed our website, you will hear many inside stories from the expedition that were never told on our website, including a lot of behind the scenes stuff.

The book is already climbing the charts in the outdoor adventure category and is now on sale at Amazon. They are doing a preorder special for the next few days, selling the book at $11.53, currently the best price available anywhere as it normally sells for $16.95 ..."

To find the book on click here.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

About Some Future Posts

I got a new cell phone this week with a qwerty keyboard so look for more live posts soon!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mid-TN Olympic Trials Competitors Named

Congratulations to the eleven high school and college swimmers from Middle Tennessee who have qualified for the Olympic Trials. This link takes you to the Tennessean newspaper's web site where the article lists the athletes by name, their respective schools and their swimming specialty. Unfortunately it doesn't mention the teams that have supported them each in their development. Good luck everyone!

Monday, September 17, 2007

10 Meter Belly Flop - Guiness Record???

In the past I've ranted about the removal of diving boards from many swimming pools thanks to insurance premium increases. Future generations will never know the finer points of the cannon ball, can opener and the preachy. The technique is not forgotten by some however and so it is my pleasure to honor those who have kept up the spirit. Here is a video of an American guy on a Japanese television show who performs a 10 meter 7 cm belly flop into a 30 cm deep kiddie pool. Jump to 3:42 for the jump and 4:20 for the closeup splash. Also, be sure to check out the audience in their tuxedos. Did I hear "Guiness" mentioned by the Japanese announcer?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Is Cold Water Better for Exercise?

The seasons are changing and though the temps are falling, some of us are still lucky enough to be permitted to swim in an outdoor pool. I, for one, feel particularly blessed because this is the time of the year when I feel like it all comes together. For one, I swim faster when the water is colder. Sure, part of it is because I just want to keep from feeling cold. But a big part of it is that I CAN swim faster. All summer long I've been swimming in hot, sweltering summer heat. The air was hot and the water was hot. It made me lethargic and toward the end of a work-out, when I really like to see what I had left in the tank, on these hot days there was often little to none. With the cooler weather, and the cooler water, I've got energy to spare and can really pour it on. I haven't spent the past hour sweating out all my fluids and the tank is still a quarter full at the end. I love this time of year! Now if they could only get the lifeguards to stop quitting and going back to school.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Swimming Links I Promise You'll Enjoy

In complete violation of the blogger's code which says you should keep your visitors on your site, I've built a large collection of outside links which pertain to swimming. I've selected them based on their entertainment value and/or educational value. To see them, just scroll down the left side of this page. They are listed under the erroneous heading, "blog roll". Enjoy.

Friday, September 07, 2007

How O2 is Good for You

This past weekend, I took my family tubing down a rocky stream in the Smokie Mountains. Being a former lifeguard (and a dad), I tried to keep my eyes on the younger, less strong swimmers in our group. But as fortune would have it, I was the one tossed from my tube and thrown along the rocky bottom. Besides bruising my forearm, my torso slammed a well rounded rock. I didn't realize the problem until bed time when I felt pressure on my lower right lung. Things got worse as the week progressed and I was nearly doubled over by mid-week after doing a bunch of fairly aggressive flip turns. The painful sensation brought back memories of pleurisy which I experienced back in 1995 after a bought with the flu. Apparently the blow to my chest aggravated the lining on my lung. While it's quite painful, but I'm confident it will heal as it did more than a decade ago. Harking back on those flu days, I remember being short of breath - a sensation I'm not experiencing this time, thank God - and strangely mystified at the effect the loss of oxygen was having on my ill, but still youthful body. Time healed things and since then, I've built up my lung capacity significantly. I find that swimming has increased my ability to hold a lot of air and more efficiently process oxygen. Like many of the people I swim with, I can attest to the great feeling the body has when it has a lot of oxygen pumping through it, after a good workout. The body's cells get a surge of oxygen, giving your whole body a fulfilling feeling, almost like having eaten a good meal. If you haven't ever experienced this surge, keep up your workouts and build up the time in the pool (check with your doctor first). You'll be amazed at the natural high you can get from simple oxygen.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

Bored with Laps? Add'm Up and Go Places

If you've spent any time looking at this blog template, you've noticed the left hand side has among other things, my distance goals over time. I came up with the idea of distance goals for my lap swimming when I started getting bored. Going back and forth, over and over and over and over (etc., etc., etc.) can get pretty dull. Setting personal fitness goals helped, but I never felt like I was getting anywhere. One day, I did a little mental math during a quieter lap and figured that in a year, I could do over 300,000 meters. I was floored, when I considered the possibilities. I started thinking of all the places I could go, if I really could add all these laps together, and that's how I came up with my goals. Since then, it's been fun to daily add to my progress and see how far I've come, and this is only the first year. I recommend this application to anyone who does repetitive travel oriented exercise e.g., running, treadmills, rowing, you name it. The long term goals keep you going and you can look back and proudly see where you've been. Besides that, people can relate to a swim to Bermuda more than say, 12,500 one-hundred meter laps.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

FS Stroke Losing Power? Try this Simple Step.

Besides a huge kick, I'm finding nothing beats a full hand of water to get some instant speed and distance out of my freestyle stroke. "Full hand of water"? Yes, it's strange to write as it is to read, but I can't think of a better way of expressing what I'm talking about here. I'm referring to keeping the maximum amount of water in your palm as you go through the entire pull part of the stroke. Tip your hand just a smidgen and you'll lose pull power. This is because the water slips past your hand if you tip it - so don't tip. If this is a totally foreign concept, I encourage you to try the following. You can do this experiment in just about any body of water, including the sink or bathtub. With your body still (standing is ok), palm your hand and put it under the surface and pull it through the water so you pull as much of the water as you can. Now do it again, but tip your hand a little bit. Notice in the latter case how much less power you've created. Now try a full pull again, this time shape your palm in the water so you get the more pull. Keep trying various palm positions until you can't get any more power out of it. When you've reached the maximum, note the position shape of your palm. This palm position (shape) is what you want to use in your swim stroke (for both hands, of course). So, if you find yourself inexplicably losing power, think about your palm position. It's an easy fix and off you'll go! Enjoy.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Make Your Mind Enhance Your Swim Stroke

It's fun to swim parallel with someone in the same lane or adjacent lanes. For me, it inspires me to pull harder and kick stronger. Yesterday I found myself swimming parallel to another swimmer who was using paddles to enhance her pulling muscles. Usually I just give up any thought of trying to keep up with anyone using paddles or flippers. They just enhance the stroke so much, there's usually no way I can keep up if the swimmer has any stamina to speak of. Nevertheless, I tried and without thinking, found myself mirroring the swimming next to me with the paddles. I was reaching further and pulling more water than I usually do. How do I know this? I really don't, but I felt it, and I could tell I was cruising along faster than usual. What was the trick? I guess it was all in my mind. I do have a tendency to mirror people on land (they fold their arms, I fold my arms; they speak with a British accent, I do the same ... I know it's weird and certainly not intentional), so why not in water too? Now I just need to figure out how to make it happen for me independent of others.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Goal #3 Complete - Escaped Cuba

If you'll excuse me, I must succumb to bragging from time to time (since no one else will do it for me). I've completed another in my long-term swim goals today (see left-hand panel of my blog template). Since Jan 2, 2007, I've swum 226.72 miles, or put another way, I've swum the distance from Havana, Cuba to Miami Beach, FL. Don't try this for real - ok, maybe Martin Strel could give it a crack. Next goal, the length of Lake Michigan.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Swim Ripples Needed

This looks like the perfect place to swim. But then, if I swim here, would I get swimmers itch again? See my August 13th post.

Power Stroke

Power is always an issue with me. Either I've got it going or I don't. Today, as fortune would have it, I had it. I generally get it, when I'm swimming in a lane next to another good swimmer. Just the ambition to keep up or pass usually gets me going. Today, it was none of that. I just had it going and for some fortuitous reason, I made note of what I was doing. From time to time, during the swim, I slowed, and made note of that too. What I discerned was that when I forced my body to stretch out to its longest - from toe to fingernail - and when I combined that with a straight (freestyle) pull down to the vertical point (pointing at the bottom of the pool) before making the first move into any sort of s-stroke, was when I got the most power going. The exaggerated stretch made my stroke longer and in effect gave me a larger propeller. I experimented with the s-stroke too, noting that I could start it long before I reached the vertical point. This early s-stroke defeated the available power, while a delayed s-stroke enhanced it. Try it out and see if you get these results.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Most Crowded Swimming Pool

Have you ever complained about a crowded swimming pool? Watch this, and you never will again. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom to see the youtube video.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Swimmers Itch

No, this isn't a post about how I can't wait to get in the pool to do laps. This is something much more serious. Swimmers itch is a serious condition - if you are exposed. I had the unfortunate experience of coming in contact with the dreaded source of swimmers itch this past July. I'd heard about it for years, and never thought much of it despite the warning signs I'd seen posted at state parks in Wisconsin. I never had any symptoms that I was aware of. Then one night while on vacation at the lake in Wisconsin, I started feeling like there were worms crawling around in my eye-brows and around my face (really!). It was the strangest sensation and it lasted all night long. About every thirty seconds or so, I would feel this tingle. My first reaction was to scratch it lightly or just pat the spot. This usually stopped the sensation for a minute or two. But after doing this for a couple hours, I got frustrated - I wanted my z's. I lay there in the dark trying not to touch my face, but it literally drove me crazy. If I didn't scratch the spot, it just got worse. I got out of bed and studied my face, looking for what felt like something breaking through the skin and coming out and wiggling around. Nothing. Was I going crazy? I felt like I was experiencing something a character in a Steven King movie might go through. Well I finally got through the night and the symptoms seemed to pass. I first blamed my bedding. Summer cabin bedding can be notorious for bugs, but that wasn't it when the next night it started again with fresh, clean sheets. Needless to say, I survived, but barely. I've since learned about swimmers itch. Here's a great link that explains swimmers itch in much more detail than I have time or patience for. I pray for anyone who reads this who may come into contact with this larvae, to towel off well and shower after your lake/pond swim. If anyone experiences a night like I had, maybe they could write a good movie about it. It was scary!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What Hard Core Swimmers Do for Money

Ever wanted to make money from swimming? Some people really do make a living in the waves. There of course are those ironman types who get sponsorships and free stuff. Let's not forget folks in the Coast Guard and other military that do rescues and re-con. There are guys who swim at the base of dams and oil rigs to check their stability, etc. But here's one job for the rest of us. I found it on-line today and thought, now there's something I could do. Then again, maybe not. Thanks!

Look Inward - Learn to Understand Yourself

Sometime in my latter teen years, someone once said to me - this after I was probably complaining about something or other - "look inward and there lies the truth." Yeah, I paraphrased that. I really can't remember what was said, who said it, or why. But the jist of it has stayed with me all my adult years. Sometimes it slips. This past week was one such case. In my most recent post, I complained about pool temperature, ozone, did I include global warming - I can't remember. Whatever the case, I was speaking about all my muscle aches I'd been getting lately and how I was having to exert extreme effort to get done with my routine. Well, if I had followed my own advice, I would have looked inward. Turns out I had a virus. I even had compared the muscle aches to that when I had the flu years ago, but did I put two and two together? No. Knocked me out all weekend and Monday too. Back at it today, but slow due to need to recover lost energy. Muscles happy again. I think understanding one's body is a big key in getting in shape. I must pay better attention to the signals it gives me. My body was shouting last week and I didn't even bother to listen.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Tracking Efforting

To use ESPN Radio's vernacular, I really did a lot of "efforting" today. It's been warm for several weeks now and averaging in the 90's each day. Needless to say, the outdoor pool is starting to heat up - even with the chiller running at night. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that's when I start complaining. Today I had a double whammy. The pool temp was high and the weather forecasters were saying that there was an ozone warning - a health warning - even the fit were waned to avoid exertion. Well I'm not one to follow the weather man's advice all the time so this AM I did my swim thing ... and I paid for it. Not only was my speed poor, despite some serious efforting, but I could feel my lungs hurting, like when I had the flu some years ago. I can only conclude that the extra ozone in the atmosphere makes oxygen uptake more difficult (hence, the warnings). But all is not bad, dear readers. I came away from all this with a new idea! I am going to add two new columns to my exercise log - "efforting" and "speed". I'm hoping I can use this daily info to see patterns and trends in my bio-rhythms, swim performance, etc. I expect knowing what has been and may be (projections) will help me understand my own body system better and maybe even push me to the next level. While none of this is posted on this blog, I will be sure to let you guys know if this helps any. In the meantime, could you just cool things down a little?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Swim Goggles Defying Gravity? Here's Why - I think

Do swim goggles change swimming dynamics? I really wouldn't have thought so, but I recently switched from one brand of goggles to another and with it, the goggle size bumped up a size or two. Now when I try to tuck in my chin and "swim downhill" as I once heard a coach tell his team, my head seems to want to stay near the surface (in freestyle). I'm wondering if the new goggles, with their larger lenses, is trapping a larger pocket of air against my forehead and forcing my head up toward the surface. Whatever the case, something is definitely is making me feel like I must work harder to keep my head down. Any thoughts?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

At Least I Wasn't Called a Perv!

I promised to share some stories about my lake swimming up in Wisconsin a couple weeks back. Each summer I go up there and spend time on a lake on which my grandparents owned a summer cottage. My mom and her brother share it now. It happens to be next to a Girl Scout camp and one can see their dock and swim area from the pier sitting just off the cottage lake front. I always thought that was cool when I was a teen but now it's just sort of yeah, yeah, there's a Girl Scout Camp next door. We do appreciate their campfire singing at night. Back to me. It's become my habit in recent years to swim all over that lake, but to do so, I must go early in the AM or late in the evening when the power boats are not permitted to go over 5 MPH. Despite the hour, it's always a great time with no interruptions aside from a crane flying overhead or a fish I've startled (or startled me). The last morning this year I was doing laps between the island in the center of the lake and our pier - about 540 meters round trip. Anyway, I was on my third or fourth lap when I spied something out of the corner of my eye. It was a boat and it was very close. I kept swimming knowing that my motion would draw more attention than anything else and tried to keep my distance. Nevertheless, the boat drew closer. Soon it was about fifteen yards off my left shoulder. I stopped to look up to get their attention, but before I could, I saw through my fogged up goggles about fifteen yellow dots and more boats. It seemed like I was surrounded. I pulled up my goggles and found I had swum into a group of girls from the Scout camp (the yellow dots were bathing caps) who had decided to take a supervised swim out to the island - this lake is "my space", I thought (ha ha). Besides that silly thought my next inclination was personal survival. Knowing the sensitivity of that organization toward men (my cousins like to sneak over and fish on their private lake and always get yelled at as if they are predators or something - they're not, they just like virgin bass) pulled my goggles back down and took off as as fast as I could. I was in the water first, I'm sure they saw me, but you never know. I'd hate for them to think I came upon them with some creepy design in mind! And here I was wearing my Speedo. Now that I think of it, maybe they did think I was a perv! Aack!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How to Swim Better - A Tip from Jerry Seinfeld

You read that headline correctly. I wouldn't believe it either but there it is. Jerry Seinfeld, one of the most successful comedians in television history has a tip that can be carried over to swimming, exercise, etc. I won't spoil it for you. Here's the link. Thanks! PS Splash Dog is pleased to brag he's been following this advice for some time. I guess there is some value in TV celebrities! Ha ha.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Lewis Gordon Strong Swims North Pole

In the second post in two days of people swimming non-traditional locations, Lewis Gordon Pugh gets our nod of the day (sorry I'm a day or two late on this post. Many of you have probably already seen something about this elsewhere but keep reading, there's some good stuff I found out). Lewis swam at the North Pole! There's detailed story and video at this link showing the efforting ("efforting", that's what some call a "good try" on ESPN radio). In the story, Lewis talks about the burning sensation he felt. You don't really think you'd be burning in 29 degree Fahrenheit water but you do (I got the sensation in 42 degrees and it hurts!). Lewis says he made the swim to make a point about climate change. This may be true, but I contend he also did it because he could. I think I would (I like to swim in outdoor pools when it snows just to know I did). Two other interesting points in the story talk about Lewis' prior swim from the Antarctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. I need to research that. I suppose it was a big deal but aren't they attached by a dotted line or something? Good job anyhow! So how does he handle the cold? Somehow he can subconsciously raise his body temperature prior to these cold swims. I'll have to try that (like I do my blood pressure and heartbeat), but I think I'll wait until early Autumn first. In the mean time, as I swim in my favorite overheated summer pool for a while longer I'll be thinking of Lewis. Kudos Lewis!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Home Again

You may have noted a sad lack of posts over the past several weeks. Never fear dear reader, you were always on my mind. I was up in the great north (Wisconsin), doing some serious lake swimming. Lots to write about which you'll see in coming posts. Check back soon!

Swimming Across American Rivers

In keeping with my favorite theme of swimming outside of the pool domain, NPR has a broadcast on-line at this very moment (11:00AM eastern) with a podcast available if you get this later, interviewing a woman who has made it her mission to swim across American rivers.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Small Pool Distance Swim Solution?

I've got an uncle in-law who used to swim laps in his back-yard pool. It was bigger than most back yard pools, but still much smaller than I'd ever want to try to swim laps in. Still, he got by and swore by it. I think I'd swear too. Anyhoo, today I stumbled across this post (pics too!) which describes a rather cool tether which you can attach to the edge of a pool (of any size), and attach to your waist. Off you go ... well about two feet. I haven't quite figured out how this works with gliding - I guess you hit the wall behind you? I want to try one! Will give a fair critique if anyone wants to send me one to test. Send me a comment to arrange.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Swimming Pools on the Radio!

National Public Radio's program "On Point" had a show this morning which caught my ear. It was about swimming pools - a refreshing change from politics and war. The guest was Jeff Wiltse, a professor from the University of Montana who has written a book titled, "Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America". At this link you can see a pretty good description of the the program. It also includes links to a podcast of the program (I recommend it), and some pretty cool photos from the book.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Perfect Swim Day

I love light! Summer solstice is today and everything was perfect and then some. With the sun up as early as it will be all year, and high in the sky by the time my dawn routine was underway, the pool shimmered under the most direct light we'll see all year. Water was perfect, air was cool, and I had my own lane in a fifty meter pool for nearly an hour. What could be better?! :)

Monday, June 18, 2007

He said, "Get Out of My Lane!"

This morning I went in a little later because there was a lightening storm during my typical hour, so when I finally got to the pool, there was a whole different group of people than I typically see. Things were a little busier than at sunrise - and I ended up sharing the lane with some guy I'd never seen before. We got along fine and neither really impeded the other's routine, both of us swimming parallel. After he was done, a middle-aged lady got in, followed shortly thereafter by some young guy wearing a heart monitor. I never trust these gadget guys (always busy with the gadget, etc. and not with the swimming), and he showed his colors, complaining about the woman who was doing what he called an adapted version of the dog-paddle. Sure she was going slow, but she was staying out of my way, so I had no complaints. I figured complainer guy for some uber-athlete since he had the bling (heart monitor thingy) and looked in good shape. Anyhow, when he got going, he was hardly Michael Phelps. The guy was really no better at free-style than your average guy who swims twice a year. Would I have felt different if he had been a better swimmer? I doubt it. The slow-lady had as much right to be there as either of us did. So where does he get off complaining about her using the lane? His bling? I think not!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Arm Positioning for Strongest Stroke

I've been experimenting with arm positioning, trying to find what gives me the strongest stroke with the least fatigue. I've tried everything from the straight arm stroke to an L-shaped stroke, where my fore-arm is perpendicular to the pool bottom and my upper arm is pulling back horizontally, like the arm on an old train wheel. This latter position intrigues me the most and was shown to me by a high-school swim coach. I'm thinking the long arm may be the strongest if the shoulder muscles are built up sufficiently, but I've got to work with what I have. Will keep posting as I find what's working best.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

10,000 Pool Lengths and Counting

WARNING - Self indulgent post: Should I be dizzy by now? I hit a personal milestone a couple days ago with 5,000 laps since Jan 2, 2007 or 10,000 lengths of 25 meters. I love it! What first started this goal kick I've been doing (see profile) was when I was doing some of my mental math - I often try to do mental math during my cool down on the kickboard to see how much I've done, how fast, etc., but it comes all too hard since the blood is in my legs and arms and not in my brain - and realized that my daily routine had the potential to hit some big numbers if I just stuck with it. So here is one of those numbers. I like all those 0's!

Friday, June 08, 2007

More Goals Added

You might have noted some rather crazy goals I've set for myself to give me some idea of how far I swim (laps in a pool). I noted that I've got some good short term goals (swim English Channel, swim width Lake Michigan, etc.), but there are places where there are big gaps and hitting the goals takes much longer - thus the mental rewards aren't there. So today I've added a couple. One is a swim from Havana, Cuba to Miami, FL (224 miles), which I should be able to complete by Thanksgiving, God willing. A second I've added is a New York City to Hamilton, Bermuda (775 miles) swim - which looks like two years out at my pace. I suppose a neat lifetime goal might be to circumnavigate the globe, but that is a little too far out there, even for me, but you never know. I imagine some Olympic athletes over the span of their lives may have done this already. If you know, let me know and I'll post it. In the meantime, I'll keep looking for more goals. Any suggestions?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Secret to Better Flip Turns

I've always thought I had a pretty good flip turn and yesterday I got confirmation, almost. A former NCAA swim team coach was doing a favor for the guy in the lane next to me, evaluating the guy's stroke, when I stopped at the wall. Standing high above me on the pool deck, the coach said, "You've got a good flip turn there". I thanked him. Then he said, "You could do better with it if you just tightened up more on your kick-off". Not knowing exactly what he meant, I asked, "Tighten what up?" And he put his arms out front of him, grabbed his two hands together in a fist and forced his arms out dead straight. Relaxing, he said, "Your elbows are relaxed. You have a kink in your elbows". I tried what he suggested and instantly added almost two meters to my push off distance. I guess my elbows were impeding the slipstream.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Amazon Dolphins

You may recall from Martin Strel's Amazon Swim (see some posts and comments about dolphins that accompanied him from time to time. Unless you went to the part of the site which showed the pictures, you might have had your typical Flipper (dolphin hero from the 1960's TV show) in mind. Here are some pictures of the endangered Amazon dolphins. You'll note they don't quite match the TV version.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Keep Your Head Down - What that Really Means

"Keep your head down!" I've heard that mantra for years. Foolish me, I never really understood the premise until earlier this week when I spoke with a swim coach with a remarkable personal best time in 100 meter freestyle. Needless to say, I listened. I had asked him what his secret was. He didn't really think he had one but was more than happy to demonstrate his stroke technique (on dry land). He talked about keeping one's head down. Great, I thought. How many times have I heard that before? What was different was that he went on further to explain - a good thing since I always thought that the expression meant to just put your face in the water and not be looking up (with a dry face). NO! I was wrong. He showed me (another guy had come up and was listening too) that simply putting one's face in the water is not enough, even if the water (like me) comes nearly up to your earlobe. If you are looking forward, unless your face is streamlined, you have in essence put up a flat block in front of you and are blocking the slipstream of water past you. You must defeat that effect by dropping your head further and point your nose at the bottom of the pool to get the streamline effect. I've been working on this since. It will take some effort to get comfortable but I look forward to improved results. In the mean time, I could use someone to ride in a boat beside me to slap me on the back of the head when I don't "keep my head down."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

25 Meter vs. 50 Meter Pools

I've made the jump to 50 meters for the summer season! Only heaven must be this good - now if they could just clear up the cloudy thing (pool and heaven).

I've noticed this in other years, but don't believe I've ever commented on the difference I perceive for conditioning pertaining to pool length. I find that the 25 meter pools encourage me to sprint more. This helps with the aerobic aspect of conditioning (i.e. you get winded more doing sprints). The longer, 50 meter pools promote less aerobic workout and more of an extended muscle workout. As I'm not really into bulking up (not that that will ever happen), and I don't want to lose my aerobic conditioning - just to have to pull that back together next fall, I'm going to have to remember to include some serious sprints into my routine - tough, since I typically go start to finish without stopping (I've never been too keen on the ladder thing). Stopping just encourages me or other people to talk, then the whole routine gets out of whack! Rude? Maybe, but I've only got a limited amount of time each AM.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Swimming Pussycat

They say cats hate water. So what do tigers do? Here's a story about a tiger in San Francisco that will jump into the water for its food. I would too if I was getting free steak! Be sure to click on the embedded link to the video (mine defaulted to Windows Media Player) to see the pussycat in action. Nice smile!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Zen Swimming - Making it Happen for You

Getting into the routine of swimming is probably one of the hardest things you'll do when you choose swimming as a primary form of exercise. I personally enjoy the peace and solitude of the sport. I like the long, smooth strokes and the rhythmic beat of swimming. But not everyone is going to get off on a swim stroke like I do. So here is a post I found on-line that shows the Zen way. If you're not into swimming, this post really will work for most any kind of exercise.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hasta La Vista 25 Meters

Memorial Day is this coming Monday and the long holiday weekend marks the beginning of the official outdoor swim season all over the USA. I've begun bidding my indoor pool friends goodbye knowing I won't see most of them before the close of the summer season. Come Monday (maybe sooner), I'll be outside doing my laps in my favorite place in my city, the 50 meter pool. Since global warming hasn't brought promised pre-summer heat waves, I'm looking forward to cool, fresh water with the scent of grass clippings and the chatter of the rising star kids from the nationally ranked swim team (yes, they generally whip me pretty good on a sprint) who share the pool at the same time as I do my workouts. Since the latter is about the only downside to this change of seasons, I think it will be a pretty good summer (now, if I could only beat one of them).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Swimmers Get No Respect - Great Video

Sometimes when I tell people about my swimming hobby, I get glazed over eyes from my audience. Here's a guy who videotaped himself talking about his polar bear swim (swimming in ice cold water). His daughter is his audience. Watch her interest. Thanks

Excuses and How I'll Defeat Them

I don't generally get too far out of my routine when I do my lap swimming. Earlier this week was the exception when I was kicked out due to lightening (the guard had to catch my legs with a noodle during one of my flip turns to get my attention). As my routine was cut short by a good 40 percent, I made up for it the next day. Knowing that putting in an extra 40 percent at the end of my routine was probably not a good idea, I decided I'd do it on the front end (before starting my regular distance). This worked well since I knew I always hate to cut off my regular routine. Finished with all 140 percent and feeling fine, I decided to do the same the next day, only I foolishly reversed strategies. Results? I failed miserably. I've learned. My suggestion and one I'll follow going forward: whenever I want to do something new (add to my routine), I'll do it on the front end. That way, I have no excuses about being too tired, etc.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Quasi Modo Turtle

Sometimes I wonder if I'll just laugh and swallow a lot of water if I swam in the ocean a lot. This is what I came across today in my dry-land surfing. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Exercise Hacks - A Great Link

I found this link on-line and have put it in my blogroll, but before it gets buried among the many, I think I'd like to draw some attention to it. Some of these ideas on how to get more out of your exercise, have particular resonance to me. They may not sound appropriate to a newbie, but as a regular swimmer (exerciser), I find many of them quite valid. I imagine if I were just starting out, they would make the trip a little easier.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Who Schedules Pool Usage? They Sure Don't Swim!

I've got a bug in my suit, so please bear with me for this post. Who is it who schedules the use of swimming pools? Whoever it is, doesn't swim - that's for sure. I usually am hot about them starting the outside season too late (Memorial Day in Southern USA - they do that in Maine!) and closing too early (oh, we might get cold. So what! I'm the one in the water, not you!). Today, I'm on another rant. If you were running a gym, would you schedule an aerobics class to use it when the most basketball players of the day used the facility? That's just what's happened in my pool. They've decided that early morning, between 6am and 7am, is the perfect time to schedule not only hydrocycle class (which takes up a full lane), but now a Masters swim class - which takes up another three. They don't seem to care that this is the same time that the majority of the AM lap swimmers want to use the pool and can easily use every lane and then some. Sure we could join the Masters group ourselves for the privilege of forking over another $30+ a month to crowd six or more of us into a lane when we can do the same thing we can do on our own (oh, I forgot - we can get the camaraderie and the occasional go, go go and a plan from the coach). Sorry to vent, I'm just a little upset again. I need to jump in the water and cool off.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Reasons Pools No Longer Fun - A Followup

Top 10 Reasons Why the "Swimming is Not Fun Anymore" Listed Items were chosen:

1. Insurance
2. Insurance
3. Insurance
4. Insurance
5. Insurance
6. Insurance
7. Insurance
8. Insurance
9. Insurance
10. Can you guess?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Why swimming pools aren't fun any more - a list

Top 10 reasons I find swimming pools aren't as fun as they used to be ...
1. No low diving boards
2. No high diving boards
3. No tall slides with long vertical exit drops
4. No starting blocks
5. No chicken fights
6. No pushing unsuspecting friends into the pool (we at least used to get away with it)
7. No diving
8. No night swims
9. No flexibility in the rules
10. Kids must get out of the water every 50 minutes to watch old people stand in the water and talk to each other.
Feel free to add your own.

Adult Swim - Startup

OK, if you've spent any time on this blog, you know I have written an inordinate amount about streamline swimming. Today, during my lap swimming, a regular two lanes away from me was standing in her lane trying to teach an adult woman how to swim. I kept periodic watch as I swam past time after time. The teacher had her student stand out in the middle of the lane, about 10 meters from the wall, bend over and begin kicking and stroking with the goal of getting to the wall. I was thinking how it seemed odd. Here, this student was having to start from zero, float, start up and progress forward. Sounds right, but reflecting on what I hate most when I swim, it's when I miss the wall (infrequently, thank you very much) on my flip turn and must start from the same place as that student - at zero. The teacher was making it harder for the student than it needed to be. She needed to have the student stand at the wall and push off - to get her started moving - and only then to begin her stroke. This way she doesn't have to fight the water to swim up to speed. Following the teacher's method, the student would be fatigued before she even had planed the water. Even the best of us can find that tiring!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Exercise - It's what you do!

You might say I'm a planner. I first began lap swimming, back when I was a freshman in college. I had been in pretty good shape from playing soccer in high school, but I was no longer running every day and could detect that I was already in poorer shape than just a year earlier. Furthermore, I had seen middle-aged people who were out of shape, trying to get in shape, and doing a horrible job at it, because they had just let it go too long. Was I already on that slippery slope? Being a cocky young kid, I decided I knew the way. I decided I would start exercising now (at 18) and thus never have to "catch-up" when I was older. To do this, I decided I would swim laps - I've always loved the water and had been a life guard for the past two summers. It would at least get me "buff" for the chair (disclaimer note - I've never achieved "buff"). After some serious muscle aches every time I went swimming, I realized that when I took time off (a few days or more) and then resumed, I had to start all over again. It was then that I decided I would try to go every chance I got - six or seven times a week. That turned out to be the best decision - after my wife and kids - I ever made. I found that by thinking of exercise not as a choice, but what I do, I could get there. When I made excuses, or found reasons to not go, that is when I would slip. Having the daily routine got me there. Today, I actually get what I call "body sad" when I don't get in my 2,200. My advice, don't make exercise an option, make it a lifestyle, make it what you do. You eat, sleep, work, use the privy, and you exercise - not in that order.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Do Little Kids Like to Swim?

If you've ever taken a child swimming, you know most of them have a pretty good time playing around the walls and on the pool deck. But since your vision is sort of cloudy under water you never really get to see what they are doing down there. Are they having a good time? It's sort of scary under water for a kid, isn't it? Check this out and you'll never think twice about taking your kid to a pool again.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Swim Center for 2008 Olympics in Beijing (pics)

To make up for the lull in my posting behavior over the past week, here's the second for today - a peek at the new swim center which is under construction in Beijing, for the 2008 Olympic Games. The aesthetic reminds me of the interplay between sunlight and pool water when you look straight down into it. Needless to say, it is pretty cool!

The Minutia of Slipstreaming Technique

If you know this blog, you know I examine some odd things about swimming from time to time. Today is no different. In fact, today I'm going to highlight a lot of swimming's oddity. If you don't know much about speed swimming, this post will enlighten you. Swimmers are known to do some very odd things. The guys wear those skimpy suits few of us wouldn't be caught dead in. Back in the sixties when long hair was the thing, they shaved their heads. If you see any telecast where they interview a group of swimmers, I challenge you to find one with a hair on his chest, much less his arms or legs. Why, you ask? Swimming is a sport of micro-seconds. Championships and records are set in fractions of seconds. The time between two contenders hitting the wall (that means finishing, in swim-speak)can be infinitesimal. All these odd things I cite above are for speed. It's hard for me to imagine shaving my arms would make me any faster, but honestly I don't think I could ever tell if I were 0.01 seconds faster. Maybe some of it is psychological. On Saturday, one of the major TV stations carried the Dual-in-the-Pool, a competition between the USA men and womens teams and Australia's. Together, they hold most of the world records so it was fun to watch. When Cullen Jones, an American was interviewed following his 50 meter freestyle victory, he mentioned having a bubble in his suit earlier and electing to go with another design. When you're competing against the best, I guess you'd rather your competition eat your bubbles than carry the things with you!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Excellent Smooth Swimming Video

Here is an excellent video I found on which demonstrates what the narrator calls "smooth swimming". He recommends visualizing the perfect stroke. This video shows an Olympic Gold medalist doing the freestyle. The ease of his stroke is what I've been preaching on this blog for some time now. What jumped out at me was this swimmer's torso rotation highlighted by the near perfect perpendicular line that runs from his elbow (out of the water) down his arm to the line in the bottom of the pool. I tried it this AM and getting the back of my arm straight out of the water, perpendicular to the bottom of the pool took a lot of effort, but it eventually came. Try it yourself.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Looking Forward

Now that Martin Strel is done with his Amazon swim, I've got to refocus this blog back to its main point - swimming dynamics. Things sort of got sidetracked by the fun part of this blog and apologize to any of you who were seeking illuminating copy on how to make swimming easy. Martin's 3000+ miles in less than 70 days is certainly is one solution - that is, a strong current and more than a little hard-headedness. Sorry, but future posts won't make you go that fast. I'll have to look more at Michael Phelps and others to get some ideas about how to swim fast without a current. Hmmm, that gives me some ideas.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

100 Miles for Moi

After being kicked out of the pool yesterday due to a lightening storm that had already passed (why is that?) I made up some lost time today (pant pant) and hit the 100 mile mark on my crazy journey across the Atlantic (see my goals). That's right miles - not those whimpy kilometers! This was the real, loud, ugly American deal. So in keeping with that visual, allow me a moment to celebrate: I feel good! Do do do do do do, like I knew that I would (Hmmm. Seems like I've heard that somewhere before). OK, so it doesn't translate to Blog speak. Give me a break. Catch you in the wadda.

Na na na na na! Beat this Martin!

Well we haven't heard much from Martin Strel since he set his world record swim (officially still pending) down the Amazon River. He's probably still recovering and we wish him all the best. In the mean time we've stumbled across something that might give him cause to jump back in the water. Check it out. Do I hear another mammal giving him some grief? Nah. Martin you still are the Feeesh Mawn!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Martin Recovering

Martin Strel is better and now recovering from his health scare at the end of his trip. He is staying in a Belem hotel recovering from it all. His site reports he was in near critical condition upon completion of his trip and at risk of a heart attack following a six mile swim to the Brazilian city following completion of his record setting journey. His personal physician who has helped throughout the trip is taking care of him. If swimming the total length of the Amazon didn't harm him, I'd like to think a heart attack could never kill this guy. Glad all is looking up.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Martin Strel Finishes Amazon Swim!

It is with great excitement that we can announce that Martin Strel has completed his world record setting swim (not that he hasn't done that before) down the Amazon River (that, he hasn't done that before, nor has any man). This is a photo from his trip tracking site which shows him arriving at his destination in Belem, Brazil. That's him in the water with his arms raised in victory (you can click on the picture to enlargen it). He was greeted with huge fanfare upon arrival but naturally exhausted was soon on a stretcher with a flag draped around him. His web site, is reporting that he is currently experiencing extreme physical stress - with extreme blood pressure readings. Paramedics are reported to be working to "stabilize" him. We're still with you Martin! Remember, you the "Feeesh Mawn"! This blog will continue to provide updates on Martin's condition as we get word. For more immediate news, go to

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Martin Strel Nearing Finish

Martin Strel is on track to finish his Amazon swim on Saturday. He's covered over 5400km since February 1st! Tidal swells are forcing a change in the routine and cutting daily progress down considerably. Now he swims twice a day to work with the tides. There are also reports he has had chronic dehydration and some delirium - probably due to the sea water - and another less pleasant, more Amazonian type malady called cutaneous larvae infection. If I researched that right, its a hookworm thing in the skin. Good thing Martin's almost through. It appears he's mortal. I almost forgot!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

New Lifeguards for Martin

Martin Strel's website is reporting that Martin is now in the part of the Amazon that empties out into the Atlantic. The river breaks up into narrow channels for a while and it is here that there is apparently the biggest threat of violent piracy. This is a picture of some of Martin's fellas (see what's in the blue shirted guy's hand - click the pic). Don't see much bling but they don't look like the types one wants to mess with. Personally, I preferred Martin's earlier lifeguard who wore a bikini and stood at the bow of his escort boat (picture at top of this post is courtesy of Martin's trip tracking site - Thanks!).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Another Goal Completed!

In past posts, I've commented on the value of setting goals to keep going with your exercise routine. Lap swimming can get very dull so I've set some goals myself. If you ever get past the top post of this blog and scroll down a bit to the profile section in the left hand column, you may note that I've set some fairly crazy goals to keep myself swimming on a daily basis. One of these (my swim across the Atlantic - remember I said "crazy goals"?) goes out more than eight years, at the rate I'm going. At present I'm a little over 2.5 percent complete toward that goal (pant pant). Since it is so far out, a little self-encouragement is in order, so I've set more reasonable goals. Today I finished my second, which was to swim the distance of the width of Lake Michigan from Milwaukee, WI to Muskegon, MI. It took exactly three months to complete that swim - but having completed it, the trip across the pond is now eighty-eight miles fewer.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Then Again Maybe I'll Need Directions

Google has posted directions to swim the Atlantic. Had I known, I would have packed these before I started (see my goals to the left of this post)!

Swim Farther Underwater - Lower Your Heart Rate - Penguins Do It

I was channel surfing last night (as close as I'll ever get to the real thing after an unfortunate experience in Malibu some twenty years ago) and came across a documentary on PBS on of all things - penguins. I've become somewhat drawn to the creatures since taking my kids to see the movie, "Happy Feet", earlier this year. Anyhow, the show was about emperor penguins and it mentioned that they can stay underwater for up to twenty minutes by lowering their heart rates. Since I love swimming under water (even more than on top), I tried the concept out this morning. No I didn't jump in a frozen lake. Before doing my 25 meter underwater routine - something I do each AM to get my heart rate moving before I start my laps - I usually try to pump myself up to make it across. Today, I did the opposite. I just relaxed and focused on lowering my pulse - a trick I've learned to do when someone in a white coat says my blood pressure is high. The result? I got across the pool and still felt totally relaxed when I touched the wall - not winded at all. Try it out at your preferred distance and tell me what you find (show-offs will be penalized).

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Martin's Swum 1000's of KMs - Now the Hard Part

Martin Strel is fast approaching the Atlantic Ocean in his quest to swim the complete length of the Amazon River. Amazingly he's done this all since the beginning of February '07! As you might imagine, he's become something of a living legend to the people who live along the world's largest river. That's Martin in the middle of the crowd - the guy without a shirt on - signing autographs. When in the water, Martin's daily distance has slowed as he now must battle waves and currents. Once again, I refer you to this awesome summary of waves in the Amazon (hint: among others, there is a surfing video). Also, more threatening, Martin's tracking site is reporting that they are now coming into areas high in piranhas and have confirmed sightings of same.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Michael Phelps Sets New World Record

Michael Phelps has a new world record! These times always make me wonder if there is some untapped force out there. I just can't imagine swimming 50 meters in just under 27 seconds (my average is closer to a multiple of that)!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Saggy Suits - are you ready for a new swim suit?

Most people who hang out pool-side use the warming of the seasons as their cue to consider buying a new swim suit. Unfortunately, those of us who swim daily can't use the movement of the planets to gauge our decision making. The sad fact is, a lot of year-round swimmers don't really know when they should consider buying a new suit and they can embarrass themselves without knowing. My wife once told me that some women in her water-exercise group told her to get me a new suit. Needless to say, I was extremely embarrassed when she told me why (my suit problem rhymed with rude). Since then, I've paid particular attention to the age of my suit. I now use a hard and fast fabric deterioration rule. It's clear to me, a lot of folks - do not know the rule. Saggy-suits are a sure sign. These are the suits that when dry look fine, but look like old loose skin after the wearer exits wet. Sometimes these people just don't realize it since the sag is often off their back-side. One way to determine if your suit is aging is to hold it up to the light. A drag suit I currently have is showing signs of wear. Holding it up to the light, I see distinct places near the seams where the opacity of the fabric is much less (remember I said, my own suit problem rhymed with rude). A lot more light shines through these places. There is also a buildup of what looks like dandruff around these less opaque areas where the fabric has literally deteriorated and left a residue. I won't be wearing that suit any longer. If you don't want to wait that long, just notice if your suit is no longer fitting tight (if water isn't flowing past unimpeded by flowing fabric you are ready for a change). New suits are comfortably snug. Warn suits increase drag in the water.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

AmazonSwim Team Update - Fascinating!

The following is a brief summary regarding the past few days of Martin Strel's swim down the Amazon to the Atlantic. This news is entirely gleemed from which I encourage you to visit for the pics and news from the team itself. This post like all the rest is because I am still and will continue to remain in awe.

This week Martin and his small support boat got separated, then out of contact with the larger team boat. They fortunately found each other at 3am downstream somewhere along the banks of the great river. Martin and his crew were taking turns sleeping and fighting mosquitoes. One confusing, scary and exciting adventure concerns not Martin, but a physician on the team, who reportedly had a near fatal allergic reaction but got treatment and is now apparently back in the saddle so to speak. The next report has her successfully treating a young woman who fell from a tree and was tragically impaled (a warning, the description of the wound is not one you'd ever want on your worst enemy). I guess the physician is better - yeah! Maybe there is really a reason Martin is doing this crazy thing?! Martin of course, continues to amaze. He has now broken his personal distance record for river swimming and capped it off in amazing Steve Irwin fashion by escaping a spinning whirlpool that had both him and his support boat spinning round. Here's the link again if I've now got you intrigued. Reports have it that the next phase of the trip will be MORE dangerous. Will keep you posted.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pride - Swim Team Movie Clip

I saw a short clip of this advertised during the NCAAs tonight and was intrigued enough to seek out the trailer. I never thought I'd say "Bernie Mac" and "serious swim team" in the same sentence but there it is! "Pride" is a movie based on a true story about some city kids who are introduced to swimming and become a team. Looking forward to seeing it. Here is the clip (external link - of course).

Friday, March 16, 2007

Is this Swimming or what?

I like to troll the net for interesting things having to do with swimming. Here's a patent that I came across for a machine that allows you to swim without getting wet. Of course you'll want to check this out. Personally, I don't like anything pressing on my torso when I swim.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Relax and Just Lie Still

Have you ever watched a good swimmer from the pool deck and noticed how they don't appear to be using any more effort but they are continuously lapping nearly everyone else in the pool? Don't think what you are seeing is wrong. Those people zipping through the water are relaxed. In fact they are probably more relaxed than most everyone else and that is why they are moving faster. What?! Yes, relaxing as you swim can make you go faster - important note: I'm not talking about competitive swimming here. These faster swimmers have found a trick and relaxing is a big part of it. To explain my point, let's examine the opposite premise. Suppose you watch someone struggling with their stroke. It seems like nine out of ten of these people are fighting the water. The better swimmers on the other hand do not. They relax. They stretch out and lie still after each stroke (to quote the title here) and allow that stroke's inertia to continue to propel them through the water until friction slows them down again. What are they doing during all this time? Relaxing my friend, catching their breath and getting ready to pull hard again when the time is right - not before.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Martin Slow Down Mawn!

Slow down Martin! Giant waves are apparently common in the Amazon River in March. Check out this site for some awesome pictures of the waves.

Switch Around Your Muscle Focus

I confessed in a post some months back that when I'm doing freestyle, I occasionally will imagine that as I reach and pull the water, I am pulling the rungs of a ladder, yanking myself along the line in the bottom of the pool. There are of course alternatives. Late last week, I found myself unusually fatigued during my swim. My arms were inexplicably aching. To ease the fatigue - I didn't want to quit - I tried focusing my attention to different muscle groups at different times. First I tried focusing on my shoulders. I straightened out my arms and allowed my shoulder muscles to do the pulling. By doing this, I found my arms relaxing - my upper body took over the work and my arms took on an unintended relaxed, almost whip-like motion that still propelled me sufficiently but lessened the fatigue (it was nice). Next I tried focusing on my elbows. Pointing my elbows back toward my feet, I pulled through with the upper part of my forearm. This didn't lessen my fatigue much, but pulled me through fairly efficiently. Last, I tried focusing on my hands, putting as much pull as I could into the stroke by grabbing and holding the water so little slid past. This promoted the greatest feeling of fatigue but seemed most fast for the short period of time I could support it (remember, I was tired). I suppose a combination of these three approaches is best, but when a muscle group gets tired it's nice to switch around. Experiment and see what works best for you.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Update on the "Feeesh Mawn"

The latest posts about Martin Strel's marathon swim down the Amazon River are both frightening and inspiring. The official site is reporting that there have been river pirates in their area. These are not your Johnny Depp "Pirates of the Carribean" types. These blokes are known to occasionally pose as police and go especially well armed. So far so good for Martin's team though. No hassles yet! Keeping our fins crossed here on dry land. On the inspiring side, the site reports Martin has a new name favored by his new Brazilian fans, "Feeesh Mawn" (try pronouncing it slowly). Go Mawn go! By the way, the pictures from the web site are simply beautiful and amazing. Spend a moment and check'm out - and no, Splash Dog isn't being paid to say this - just is very envious.

Friday, March 09, 2007

How to Extend the Lifespan of a Swim Suit

When I took up daily swimming, I became distressed at how quickly my suits were wearing out. After what I considered to be a short time - about three months of daily use - my suits were becoming saggy and no longer hugging my finely tuned physique (ha ha). To make matters worse, the fluid dynamics of the suit would fail at the same time making travel through the water more of an effort. Thus, I would have to plunk down cash for what I considered to be a pointless expense. The products should have been designed better (these were name brand suits you all know). In my effort to extend the length of wear, I have since tried to follow all instructions (e.g. rinse with cold clear water, don't twist, dry flat, etc. etc.). I'd even gone so far as to swap out suits to every other day. Even so, they still fell apart within three months. What was that about? Nothing seemed to help, until I started using a suit-spin dryer on a regular basis. Since I started using it, I've seen the lifespan of my suits extended to six months and still going. I must conclude that length of time a suit is wet is what primarily leads to the degeneration of the material. Drying the fabric minimizes that time that water can damage the fabric. So here's my gripe. It's pretty simple ... why would any swim suit designer design a suit to break down in water? Come on guys! Make a better product! In the mean time dear reader, follow my advice and use the spin dry machine. If you don't have access to one, lobby your swim club. They should be in every pool locker room.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Milestones Achieved - Progress toward Goals is Important

If you've scanned this blog's format much at all, you've probably noted the set of personal goals I've set up to the left of my posts (English Channel, Gulf of Mexico, Lake Michigan, LA to Honolulu, etc.). Sure they are silly, but they keep me going and give people who know little about swimming laps, some perspective. Maybe one day, I'll actually do one of these for real (yeah, right!). Still, I've found these goals a lot of fun. Tracking my progress daily and seeing my numbers climb has been especially stimulating. Today I hit a milestone on my tracker I started keeping in January '07. Today, I broke the 100,000 meter point, the 2,000 circular lap point and the 4,000 lengths point. Seeing this makes me realize that I am making progress and is pushing me to keep this up. Besides all that, 100 kilometers looks kind of cool. You can do this too. Set your own goals and track your progress. You'll be amazed how fun it can be.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sub Aqua Hockey - Talk about a Cool Game!

Here's a link to a Reuters story about sub-aqua ice hockey. What's ice hockey have to do with swimming you ask? Didn't I say "sub-aqua"? Check it out. Bubble bubble, he scores! Don't try this at home kids.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Martin Strel Streamcasts Now Available

You can now check out Martin Strel's Amazon Swim in a streamcast! Visit Martin's official web site to see some great stills (also a great way to check out what the Amazon communities and culture really look like, today). His site is reporting that he's half way now and reportedly cranky at the end of some of his twelve hour, 75+ km swims. Who wouldn't be? Keep your chin up Martin! We're with you guy - all the way!

I'm adding the streamcast link to the blogroll here so you can check out Martin's progress whenever you visit.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lifeguard! Lifeguard! Help!

Why Martin chose to swim the Amazon perhaps?

Extending My Freestyle Reach

Want to increase your reach so you can pull more water? I've been practicing and noticed that some techniques work better than others. I've mentioned in past posts how stretching one's torso extends one's reach. Today I found myself working on my arm reach. I was focusing on keeping my arm straight and pulling with my shoulder. In doing so found that I could add what I perceived to be significant additional length to my reach. I did this by exaggerating the depth I turned my shoulder into the water (toward the bottom). In doing so I could distinctly feel my deltoid muscle move and extend further than it naturally did. It almost felt as though my reach extended an additional inch or two (which never occurred to me as a possibility). This may be something any skilled swimmer already knows about, but it felt completely new to me. I do have somewhat loose shoulder muscles (I've temporarily dislocated them on several occasions) so the extension shift I felt in my shoulder muscles may not be reproducible by everyone. I'd like to hear comments on these observations.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Disservice of Swimmng Pools with Little Depth

About six months ago, before a workout I was changing in the locker room (I know, TMI). The regional head of the fitness facility (a national not-for-profit, everyone knows by name) who had finished his workout was getting ready for his day. He knows I'm a swimming nut and often asks me my opinion of how the pools are doing from a heavy-user perspective. Somehow that morning we got on the subject of pool depths. The organization had in recent years filled in a diving well for a new kiddie pool and raised the depth of a fifty-meter pool from a gradiated pool with a maximum seven feet to a flat four and a half. They'd also eliminated the swim meet diving blocks and removed a diving board at one of the facilities (they've left it at another - so this was perplexing to me). Today most of the pools in our area have signs posted saying people can't dive into the pools off the pool edge. I asked if these changes were due to insurance premiums. His reply was immediate. "Exactly," he said. This wasn't a surprise to me, but since then I've not felt comfortable with the answer - not his answer "exactly," but that they believe that they are doing their organization and the public a favor. I contend they are doing the public a disservice by taking away the opportunity to swim in pools with depth. I have a number of problems with this. First, how can people really learn to swim if they can always put their feet down? If they are really teaching people to swim as they contend in their lesson plans, why don't they realize that teaching people to swim in a shallow pool can lead many to believe they can swim in any depth. Sure, some will be able to. But others will be surprised when they most certainly one day find themselves in water over their heads someplace other than the protective confines of a facility with safeguards every twenty feet (poles, throw lines, guards, etc). This could lead to unnecessary drownings or, at a minimum, horrible scares. Next, what about other skill sets? The users will never learn to dive head first into water, much less dive down deep (as much fun, if not more fun than swimming around on top). I contend that this money saving decision - certainly not a system wide decision since some of the pools still have depth - is wrong and that it needs to be re-examined as pool renovations and new pool plans are developed. People need to know how to swim in depths. It could save their lives!