Friday, April 27, 2007

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!

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