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.