Friday, March 28, 2008

Swim Suit Technology Setting World Records

Speedo has a new swim suit technology that is helping a few fortunate test subjects set world records at an unprecedented pace. The technology is so good in fact, there may be some question about fairness. At least three world records have been set and eight more according to this article in The suit (and this other article quotes) reportedly creates a stabelizer on the body's core which promotes five percent less drag and five percent less O2 consumption at an unspecified (but apparently, key) speed. In case you haven't figured it out yet, that's HUGE!!!

I find all of this simply amazing. As for this technology's fairness, that's best left to the sports boards. I for one, want one now! Then again, I should probably get a suit with little flippers embedded in the skin first. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pools on my vacation are disappointing

Swimming pools need to be designed by swimmers! It's clear that pools more often are not being designed for swimming. This pool is just plain crazy. All one can do is jump in or hang on the side. Maybe a little bit of slow trekking across the middle might work. A simple straight line between the two ends might be an improvement. Any pool that is more for bathing than swimming ought not be called a swimming pool.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Secrets to Swimming Like an Aquatic Creature

I've always marveled at how some aquatic creatures can swim. Particularly fascinating to me are otters, seals and alligators who all seem to have some unfathomable ability to slip through the water at high speed. Here's an article that describes the results of a study funded by the National Science Foundation and University of Utah showing some of that and what has been discovered that may lead to this skill set. I've posted a key paragraph here from the U or Utah, but visit the article to get more.

"The discovery in American alligators suggests "special muscles that manipulate the position of the lungs - and thus the center of buoyancy - may be an underappreciated but important means for other aquatic animals to maneuver in water without actively swimming," says C.G. Farmer, an assistant professor of biology."

Can some of this be applied to human swimming? Perhaps. It seems to me that air in the lungs can be shifted to the upper or lower abdomen - that may be a crock (bad pun), but it feels that way. Try it by floating on your back and holding the air near your neck, then closer to your belly.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When its OK to Touch a Dolphin

Here's a news story that will make you feel good all day. The story is about a group of people in New Zealand who were trying in vain to help a whale that kept beaching itself and the dolphin that came to the rescue. The last line of the story is a tear jerker and the answer to the headline of this post. Enjoy. :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

How to do Multiple Laps with Flip Turns without Tiring

I am known at my pool as a guy who swims for a long time without stopping to rest. I guess that's supposed to be a complement (I think I'd rather be known as a guy who swims fast, but I'll take what I can get). When I swim my laps, I typically will do 1600 to 2400 meters at a time without stopping. All my turns are flip turns, and I don't rest at all until I stop for a half-minute or so before I switch over to the kickboard. Why am I not tired? Why can I go from lap to lap without stopping to catch my breath? What do I do different from the guy next to me who stops every one or two laps to rest and catch his breath?

This post will share how I got where I am. I didn't start this way. I WAS the guy in the next lane stopping every one or two lengths to hang and catch my breath. My conversion came slowly, with patience. Let me explain.

When I first started swimming regularly, I was very jealous of the guys who could swim non-stop. I even had a nick-name for them - the "human lungs". I was amazed they could go on and on and on. What was the trick? I'd try what they were doing and fail miserably. I'd figured out the flip turn, but so what? I was still tired and ready to plant my feet down and stand up right after the turn (if even I had that in me).

I decided that a good approach would be to go slow and trim, and it worked. By swimming as trim (torpedo/pencil swimming) as I could to minimize effort, and by taking it easy, I found that I would use less energy and oxygen. Thus I had enough to get through the flip and start the next length. When I started feeling tired, I'd drop it another notch, until I'd recovered and then resumed speed again. Over time (over a couple weeks of practicing this), I found I could maintain a decent pace without having to do the slow down. Over a longer period (a few months), I even found I could crank up the speed and hold it for a while before scaling back. Today, I can do a full 2000 meters at my top speed (as long as the water is cool enough).

Bottom line, just take it easy, find your easy speed that doesn't tire you out and cruise through. You'll improve your speed and ability by default. Just don't put your feet down!