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?