Thursday, February 28, 2008

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The following text was added March 23, 2009:

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End text added March 23, 2009.

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Man Swims to Shore to Save Mates

As a fan of WWII movies, I always wondered about those guys I heard of who drowned within view of the shore when their ships were sunk. As a swimmer, I figured it would be a cinch to take care of things as long as the water was warm and calm and no one was hanging on. In my fantasy, I'd swim to shore, contact help and be the hero. Fortunately I've never gotten the opportunity to do that ... but here's a guy who's trying. Mitchell Williams, a deckhand on a fishing vessel off the coast of Australia swam 12-hours through shark-infested waters to shore to contact authorities after the ship on which he was working hit a reef and sunk.

As I write this, rescuers are searching for his lost mates. Here's the article I plucked this info from. Let's pray for the crew's rescue.

Monday, February 25, 2008

7 Easy Tips to Swim Faster

1. Kick with your toes above your heels
2. Kick from the hip and whip your lower leg like a fin (see #1)
3. Kick with bigger sweeps rather than smaller flutter (see #1 and #2)
4. Reach as far out you can (roll to reach further) before starting your pull
5. Whip your stroke faster after the mid-point in your pull
6. Pull all the way through until you touch your thigh
7. Keep a pencil profile (long and thin) to drive through the water with minimal resistance.

More in next post.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

More than a few of my previous posts have focused on my lament about the demise of swimming pools fun (e.g., the loss of diving boards, starting blocks, depth, diving off the pool sides, etc.). These are serious impositions on the fun we historically have had in our public pools. I think there are ways to make pools fun or interesting again, but the powers that be aren't focused on the swimmers but on themselves and their employees.

I've noticed a trend at my own pool (besides all of the above) of all capital improvements going toward the mundane - new guard chairs made of composite materials (the old ones apparently were too tall and made of metal), new water weights (the class attracts about six people a week), new back boards (oh, did the old ones wear out from overuse?). If these decision makers ever got in the pools they'd see where they really ought to focus (like the grunge growing in the gutters and the missing plastic panels that hold down the liner - going on two years now for both).

Going through the main gym workout equipment room to get to the locker room annex to the pool I can't help but notice all the nice new expensive equipment. A dozen new flat panel TVs, bikes with TVs, new elyptical equipment, new treadmills, new stair climbing equipment, new weights, etc. They even have a live DJ a couple times a year. Sure we get fresh water and maintenance isn't cheap, but I really could use a lap counter and maybe some music in the room - there are such things you know. If it costs too much (it doesn't), just lower the heat down to the promised 80-82 degrees instead of the weekly climb to 86.

I joke that they ought to put a giant flat panel tv on the pool room ceiling so we can watch while we do backstroke. I'd be happy if they just replaced the kickboards that have chunks literally chewed out of them - but no, the staff don't use kickboards.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Worlds Most Dangerous Swimming Pool

This video entitled "The Worlds Most Dangerous Swimming Pool" seems right on. I just wonder why they don't mention the wonderful view from the high dive? (Author's Note: The embedded links on this video's web site are a bit riske'. I don't endorse them).

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Simple Tip for Hair Care for Swimmers

There are a lot of strange theories about what can happen to your hair if you are a regular swimmer - for good reason. You know those little blond kids who get green hair in the late summer? It's from the chlorine and I suspect some copper (where does that come from?). You know those adults with frizzy, split ends? It's from the chlorine and boric acid and whatever else they're adding to your nice clean water. You know that dry skin and chlorine permeated skin you've been getting? Ditto.

I can't say I've solved these problems, but I've taken some tips from a hair stylist I once had. One summer I was having a particularly bad time. My long (longer than the short cut I now sport), thick locks turning to dried out saw grass. Knowing I was a swimmer he suggested clarifying shampoo and sold me a $20 dollar bottle of this clear stuff. I took it, price and all, suspiciously. But it worked great, almost right from the start. I bought several more bottles until I saw $0.99 bottle of the same (different label) at the supermarket and I've never looked back. Basically clarifying shampoo strips the crap out of your hair (chlorine buildup, oil, etc.) and leaves nothing in it. I put a little conditioner in it and rinse. The conditioner adds back a little oil and gives you some shine you may strip out with the clarifier.

Seeing how this worked so well, I've taken to using the clarifying shampoo as a body wash. It strips the chlorine odor that permeates the skin if you swim daily. For $0.99, it can't be beat!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Finding Your Trim Speed

If you've ever ridden in a speed boat and seen how it accelerates from zero, you'll notice all the effort the boat makes to get started. Once at speed, the bow lowers parallel to the water and the boat skims almost effortlessly through the water. I'm finding swimming is like that.

When I have my days where I'm achy or tired for whatever reason, my speed is naturally slower than usual. It's these days I notice that the effort to just go slow seems unreasonably difficult. Shouldn't it be easier to swim slower than faster? I find that the answer, surprisingly, is no. If I can break out of the achies - sometimes just working the muscles for a while helps - and I can pick up my speed, the "efforting" I'm engaging in seems to actually decrease. Yes, you read that right. I find myself streaming through the water easier, my strokes more efficient, and my speed unproportionally faster for what additional extra effort I've engaged. This is because my body becomes more horizontal in the water (as opposed to the more diagonal angle of slow speed). It's my trim speed.

This may explain, at least in part, why some fast swimmers are seemingly less tired after a long workout than slow swimmers after a short effort. Sure fitness has a lot to do with it, but finding and maintaining your trim speed helps a lot too.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Freestyle Roll - When is too Much?

Rolling your body during freestyle (turning shoulder down toward the bottom of pool and hip to same) is one of those things seasoned freestyle swimmers do without much thought, but novices must learn through practice. A good roll can enhance your streamline profile and thus speed your way through the water. But what makes for a good roll? Is it possible to have too much of a roll?

Yesterday I was doing my laps and someone one lane over was doing the same. I noticed his roll seemed to be fairly extreme. When I do the roll I go only so far that my arm can extend as deep as possible. This swimmer was rolling so far that his arm was being forced away from the optimal depth. A little further and he could have rolled over onto his back. By going too far with the roll (past the optimal arm depth point) he was wasting energy and time when he could be getting through his stroke.

So when you are doing freestyle, be sure to roll, reach as deep as possible before going into your "S" pull, but don't over-roll - that's just self-defeating.