Friday, December 24, 2010

Dozens of Talented Divers All at Once

Remember in the 2008 Olympics how the Chinese awed everyone with their huge show featuring hundreds - maybe thousands - of people working in synchronization to create an amazing showcase of talent? Well here it is in a platform diving presentation. Starts getting fun to watch at about the 2 minute mark. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What the Health Department and Scrooge Have in Common

The pool where I do the bulk of my lap swimming in the cold months installed some new bright (LED?) lighting over the Fall months. It became clear over time that there was a new unexpected feature - the lights could change color. They could be set to blue, red, green, yellow or white. Or they could be set to rotate between selected colors. Go one lap and return and the blue is now green. Personally I thought this was a bit over the top. I liked some of the colors, but yellow made the water look like urine through my goggles. What good did it do? Well my attitude changed for the better as time went on - I got accustomed to yellow and the change in colors kept me from being so bored. And even better, as the Christmas season approached, the lights were set to red and green. Cool huh? So what happens? The health department shows up and says that the colored lights have to go. What's that about? Perhaps the Ghost of Christmas Pools needs to pay them a visit! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Most Efficient Swimming Propulsion Device Ever

Who do you go to if you want to develop the most efficient swimming propulsion device ever conceived?  Darpa, of course.  That's the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.  They bring you simple new innovations, like say, the internet.  Anyway, they've put their minds to work and developed a cool way to send the Defense Dept's swimmers through the water faster.  Thinking a better kind of fins?  Think again.  Check out the video below.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tiger Woods has a Lap Pool - Pic at Link

Tiger Woods has just finished updating his new home that he bought for a mere $35 million and he's put in another $15 million to touch it up.  So did he do what every other gajillionnaire does when they "upgrade" their estates and first thing remove the lap pool?  No!  Tiger has kept his and it's a dedicated lap pool (check out the pic and story here) and appears to be 50 meters!  And yes, ladies, he's single.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Removing a Buffalo from Backyard Swimming Pool - Raw Video

Georgia pet buffalo gets loose and  falls through pool cover.  Gets out at 1:08 with some cowboy action, after that he/she thrashes around a bit acting like, well, a buffalo.  Gets a bit sad as the film progresses.  More to this video than you'll see on the TV news.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Power vs. Efficiency

A retired NCAA swim coach I've quoted here from time to time has added another aha moment to my life-long lesson in swimming.  It was late in the summer and the morning sun was blinding as I tried some backstroke kicks.  The old coach was in the next lane and watching all us regulars as he is inclined to do.  He saw me weaving in my lane as I had my eyes closed to keep the sun out of my eyes.  He advised turning to my side with one arm extended, lifting my butt and kicking from the hip.  The first instantly solved the blinding sunshine/lane weaving problem as I wasn't facing the sun so directly anymore; the rest of the advice seemed odd as it virtually did away with my flutter kick.  "Is that for more power?" I asked.  "No more power," was his reply, "but you'll be more efficient."  He's right.  It took me a while to really get the feel for it as the whole position, leg kick thing was new to me, but after one and half months I can say, I go further with each kick than I did before.  Am I more powerful?  No, but perhaps with the strengthening of my core by lifting my but (back muscles here), and using my hips more (more core and more whole leg), I will eventually be more powerful.  Time will tell.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Marathon Swimmer Dies of ...

Fran Crippen, a marathon race swimmer (10K swimmer) from Philadelphia died earlier this week due to some undefined complications related to a swim he was participating in the United Arab Emirates.  This article, courtesy of CNN, cites several causes 1) severe fatigue 2) heart attack and 3) water and air temperature, oh and let's not forget 4) they took two hours to find his body (2-hours ??? on a pre-determined race course ???).  Anyhow, I can't but help to think that a primary cause had to have been the temperature.  Water temps over 80 degrees F. in any race, much less a race of endurance, is asking for trouble.  The water temp was cited at 87 F. and the air temp, 100 F.  The race organizers are lucky others did not fall out.  It is my opinion that to hold a race of endurance in such conditions is unconscionable.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Look like crap in a bathing suit? Get in line

Get your butt off the couch, out of the chips bag, and in to the pool.  Your excuses are over.  OVER.  You can't give yourself excuses.  If you do, you won't go.  Go to the pool for five straight days.  Give yourself two days off as a reward and repeat (no, not the two days off ... the five days at the pool).  Don't worry about your speed, don't worry about what you look like.  Honestly, no one at the pool in the off season really cares.  None of us have a real tan by November.  Those who swim indoors know, if you do fit in your swim suit and can still look good, you are the exception.  Once you are in the water no one really notices anyhow.  Wear a towel like everyone else until you jump in.  Indoor swimming is not the beauty contest outdoor swimming between 10am and 4pm can be.  Indoor swimmers are usually only there because they want to work out, loosen up, or cool down from a dry land workout.  The time of day does not matter.  The pool temperature does not matter.  The intensity of the sun ... does not matter.  Indoor swimmers have no excuse.  Just swim, people.  Swim!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Lifeguard Makes Pool Rescue - All Caught on Film

Click this link to see a play-by-play water rescue.   Notice the refined use of the frog kick to get extra power.  Note:  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beware of the Death Ray at this Swimming Pool

Do you like those fancy glimmering buildings in Las Vegas?  You know, the ones with beautiful swimming pools at the foot of them?  Beware.  One of them has what some are calling a "death ray" that appears when the sun hits the building and reflects down onto the pool area creating a super hot spot you are strongly advised to avoid.  Read more here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yes, You Can Dunk in this Swimming Pool

I found this video to be one of the most fun I've ever posted on this blog.  Enjoy!

Pool Domination 2010 - Watch more Funny Videos

Tips to Dry your Swimsuit

A reader asked me for tips on drying a swimsuit and I figured the question would certainly make for a good post, since if you don't do it right, or at all, you'll lessen the life of your swmsuit many times over.

Well, there are probably a million ways to dry one's swimsuit, but I have my preferences, some of which I've learned the hard way.  Here is my swimsuit drying Do's and Don'ts list and a few tips to go with them:

Do Not:
  • Leave your swimsuit in your bag if it is damp - the bacteria that survives the chlorine will eat away at the elastic and will thrive in the warm dark place that is your bag (do this just once and you'll see what I'm talking about)
  • Let your swimsuit dry in direct sun light - this will fade the pattern/colors faster than you might imagine
  • Routinely dry your swimsuit while you are wearing it - this will stretch the fabric and you won't even notice it until one day when you get out of the water and it falls off your a**.
  • Hang your suit from a clothes line or hook as this too will stretch the fabric (duh).
  • Wring (ring?) your swimsuit out - this will stretch the fabric

  • Rinse the suit in cold clean water to get out the chlorine and other pool chemicals (I just do it in the shower after my workout)
  • Dry the suit on a flat surface - I use the shower floor at home works great, or on a dry towel which you one can do just about anywhere (e.g., in the back of your car, etc.).  Sometimes your suit won't be dry in 24 hours but will almost always be dry in 48 hours, so I keep a second suit in my bag for the next day's swim.  Then I just swap out suit from the drying place when I'm done.
  • To speed things up try using a spinner.  They work like a salad spinner and do a great job whicking the water away from the swimsuit.  Spin the entire cycle, i.e. don't stop until you hear the unit click.

If you must get the water out of your suit manually - maybe because you don't have a spinner, or a plastic bag or towel to wrap the suit up in when you leave the pool - I suggest scrunching it into a ball and squeeze the water out (once again, do not wring it out).

These are just a few of the things I do and/or recommend.  Other suggestions always welcome.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why Some Swimmers Wear Watches in the Pool

Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of pretty good swimmers who wear their watches in the pool?  There's a good reason and it isn't just because they spend a lot of time in the water and need to know when to get out in time to get to work, home for dinner or their next appointment. 

If you look closely, most - if not all - of the watches are digital.  Most digital watches have a chrono function (stopwatch), a timer (lap counter), an alarm and several other functions. 

You don't have to be a great swimmer to take advantage of using a watch in your workout.  Even the slowest swimmer can find creative uses for the functions that are available.  I personally use the stopwatch function daily.  I just push start at the beginning of my session and track lap-times during my flip turns (yes, under water) to be sure I'm keeping a pace that I desire. Some people push a button at this time to count their laps and to use after their workouts or between sets to see how their split times compared.

There are innumerable watch choices out there.  I've used many over the years and none are expensive.  Currently I favor the Timex Ironman Triatholon.  The numbers are large enough that you can see it underwater in limited light, the buttons large enough to press without injuring the nerve endings in your finger tips, plus their functions are fairly intuitive.  The added bonus is that the strap is rubber (or something like that) so it instantly repels water.  You can pick it up at Target and other big box retailers for about $39.95.

Finally, my two best reason for wearing a watch in the pool are:
  • It's too easy to think you are swimming faster than you really are - wearing a watch will bring you back to reality - fast.
  • The watch strap is a great place to put your ring(s) - I always think they are going to fly off my hand if I don't strap them down and I don't trust storing them being in my locker or pool bag. 

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Taking a Vacation? Here are some Cool Hotel Pools

Taking a vacation can be a problem if you are a lap swimmer.  You've almost always got to compromise.  Here are some hotel pools where the compromise just might be worth it (several of these are reruns from prior posts)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Swimmers of Yesteryear had more Fun

I've contended in prior posts that the sissification of swimming pools has led to a less enjoyable swimming experience.  Lack of diving boards, shallow pools, etc. are just a few of my gripes.  Here's photographic proof of the fun they had in the days of your great grandparents. Enjoy!

PS  On the other hand, modernity has given us less horse-manure in our swimming water! 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More Water Fun! - Waterbird

Looks like you don't even have to know how to swim to enjoy this water workout!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Going to the Beach? Be Sure to Bring Along Bob

If you are like me you like everything that keeps you around the water.  Have you ever dreamed of having your own submarine?  I sure have, but lets get real, I'm not a super rich Bill Gates or any of his ilk, but I still have my dreams and I'm willing to settle.  Introducing BOB, a personal underwater scooter - sort of a combination of a Segway, diving gear and scooter.  The concept is simple enough that it looks like anyone who wants to shell out a few clams on vacation can experience this.  Gotta love the ingenuity.  Check out the link.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sharing a Lane - Did I Earn Bad Karma?

OK, so two of my more recent posts to this blog were about lane sharing (the pros and cons). Well, given my luck this AM, it seems I angered someone - Poseidon, the Greek god of the seas, perhaps?  Here's my story.

Started the day circle swimming with two other guys.  Third guy dropped out after about 15 minutes so second guy suggests we swim our respective sides (parallel).  I agree and quickly take my side for a full lap (up and back).  But upon my second flip turn, I have completely zoned out, forgotten the new parallel routine and am circle swimming again.  What good could come of this? you ask.

Well, I got what I deserve.  As I type this, I am sporting a "shiner" where the second guy hit me in the left eye (goggled fortunately) at full freestyle reach.  I got him on the top of his head in a similar stretch.  It felt like a boxing match, to tell the truth.  It didn't end there.  Momentum forced us both forward despite the punches and we slammed heads together - think rams fighting over the top of the mountain.

In the end, things worked out. We both shook it off and stayed to complete our workouts, and laughed it off when we were done.  My lane partner seemed concerned about the mark he'd left.  I just chalk it up say "my bad".

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why You Can't Swim Like a New Fish - Blame the Old Fish

So you want to swim like Michael Phelps?  Do you have his genetic gifts?  Then you probably won't ever be able to swim like he does.  But lets not blame Michael.  Perhaps he's just underdeveloped.  Hows that?  Read on.

An article in Wired Magazine cites a study conducted by University of Ottowa researchers that finds that the loss of a gene known as actinodin found in fish may have been the cause of the transition of fish fins to limbs.

So does this mean when they figure out how to safely conduct gene transfers that we can get back to the way God first made us?  Just kidding, Texas!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sharing Your Lap Lane - Yes, there are Benefits

This past year I grew up.  Really.  I finally learned to share my lane and enjoy it.  In fact, I am known to the guards at the pool as someone who is happy to share my lane - given the swimmer doesn't fall into any of the 10 points in my prior post.  Here's why I am happy to share my lane:
  1. Lap swimming can be VERY boring.  Having someone else in the lane, even if you don't communicate with them verbally, keeps your mind a bit more stimulated just by the sheer fact that one must keep aware of where the lane partner is in the pool relative to one's self.
  2. Your lane partner can spur you to swim faster.  Who wants to be humiliated by someone in baggy trunks?
  3. Your lane partner can make you feel like a fast swimmer, even if you are not - this of course requires your lane partner be a slower swimmer than you.
  4. Your lane partner can provide you with a slip-stream if you want to swim along side them like a baby whale does it's momma.
  5. By having a lane partner, your lane is less likely to be chosen by the next crappy swimmer who wants to get in your lane. 

No, I didn't list 10 benefits.  I'm sure there are more, but jeez, I never thought there was one good reason before this year.  Give me a break!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ten Reasons Sharing Your Lap Lane Isn't for the Faint of Heart

Sharing a lap lane can be a real pain.  Here are a few of the reasons sharing a lane isn't for the weak of heart:
  1. the nail trimmer - hug the line too tight and nearly break your finger in the buoys
  2. the navigationally challenged - those who use the whole lane (usually not on purpose) due to poor navigation skills
  3. the leg men - those who use more of the sub-surface than you are expecting (they kick you)
  4. the ax men - those who use paddles and like to chop you when you go by (I never realized swimming was a blood sport until one of these hit me in the arm)
  5. the butterflies - these guys start the butterfly soon as you enter the pool area, just so you won't choose his lane (some even swim with their fists!)
  6. the loose rope - just when you've got a straight line going, the line floats into your path (see #1)
  7. the waterboarders - these are the swimmers who throw up a great swell as they pass, usually when you are inhaling
  8. the jet boats - these are the swimmers who use fins.  They blow by at high speed or if you're at the end of the lane and swimming circles, they force you to stop so they can go past - again and again and again - and they think they are faster than you when you know deep down they are just using them because they are really speed challenged
  9. the loose barges - these are the slow swimmers who generally fit the category of #2 and #3 as well.
  10. the endangered - these are the swimmers who apparently have a respirator ready at the end of the lane because they stop and recover for two minutes for each lap.

Feel free to add your favorites in the comments section!

In my next post, I'll touch on the advantages of sharing your lane.

Monday, May 24, 2010

21st Sunscreen is Great ... or is it?

I just came across this article today that among other things says that the FDA hasn't been telling us the whole truth about sunscreen.  You know the basics, but did you know that your sunscreen might be causing you to GET skin cancer?  I was floored.  Here I am practically lathering up with sunscreen so I can enjoy a summer day at the pool and I read this?  Oh crap.  Guess I'll be going back to zinc oxide nose soon. 

Friday, April 30, 2010

Are You Safe in a Pool During an Earthquake?

This video - which you need to watch with caution since it jerks around and could cause nausea or other video related health-effects - shows a swimming pool during an earthquake.  Spoiler alert:  Watch it all and see if there is a tsunami.

View more news videos at:

Friday, March 26, 2010

2,000,000 Meters and Counting

Warning:  Serious gloating in this post.  I hit another mini-goal today, with the completion of my two millionth swimming meter since I starting adding up my laps a few years ago (I only started counting because I needed something to keep me going, thought it was cool when I realized 1,000,000 meters was attainable and now I've doubled that!).  So what is 2,000,000 meters?  It's 80,000 lengths and 40,000 laps (25 meter pool), too many flip turns to count and 804 workouts.  Reality knocking ... serious competitive swimmers probably do this in 1/3rd the time or less.  Much less.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Old Guy Tying New Stroke? Beware!

OK, so I'm not Michael Phelps.  But I do have a bit of his ego and I thought maybe I could try his freestyle stroke.  No, not the one on the TV commercial where he plows through pavement.  That's for the younger crowd.  I'm talking plain old throw yourself up with each stroke like the a butterfly to get more reach and more body whip with each kick.  Where did I land?  On the couch for two days - unable to move.  I learned my lesson, or so I thought.  That was a year or more ago.  But yesterday, I recalled a recent reply to that post where I first pointed out MP's freestyle leap.  That reply suggested opening one's fingers to make the water slide through faster.  Sounds logical (after you get past the part about giving up on cupping the water to get more pull).  Well I tried it.  Naturally, my arms came through the water faster - so did my elbow and almost instant tennis elbow pain that throbbed until I was about 3/4ths through my workout.  So as for radical new stroke technique?  It doesn't look good for moi.  I guess I'm stuck in the slow lane with the guy in the waterproof leg cast.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

So I'm Doing Laps When ...

If you've missed my regular posts (that's a joke) there's a reason.  Here goes ... So I'm doing my laps when I do my flip turn and I find this is staring me in the face ... 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mississippi River Mini-Goal Completed

Sometime in late 2006, I realized I was cranking out the distance, but had never tracked it.  I really had no idea how far I went over time.  So beginning at the start of 2007, I opened up a handy spreadsheet and began tracking my distance for each swim.  Seeing that the totals were adding up, I thought it would be cool to set some goals.  My main goal was to keep swimming, so I set what at the time seemed to be an impossible goal ... swim to Hawaii from LA (via a lap pool).  That surely would keep me swimming for a number of years.  I told myself, I'd reward myself by swimming the last distance into shore at Waikiki (I can always dream).  Realizing that I needed some mini-goals to keep the long-goal in sight, I added a bunch of those.  Actually, some of them are far in and of themselves (e.g., swim to Bermuda from NYC, cross the USA, etc. - see list on left margin of this blog).  Today, I completed one of those not-so mini-goals, the length of the Mississippi (Duluth to New Orleans) or 1,171 miles.  It feels good to complete a mini-goal, but I'm still not even half-way to another goal I've added on top of Hawaii - the Atlantic Ocean.  Maybe I can swim the last lap like Kramer did on Seinfeld, and swim in the river around Manhattan (Let's not get too carried away).

Thursday, January 07, 2010

What metric is your swim workout worth vs. other exercise options?

NewScientist published an article yesterday summarizing the science of fitness.  One of the topics covered just what counts as exercise.  They gave the example of golf  and the age old question of whether it truly is exercise.  Quick answer, yes - if you walk.  Less so, if you ride a "buggy".  How do they assess this? The article cites a compendium of data pulled together by university researchers (a Stanford researcher conceptualized the concept while the University of South Carolina developed the PDF cited below ) that details each type of exercise and its MET or metabolic equivalent, and yes, swimming is included.  Not only that, but each type of swimming activity, ranging from general leisure (not lap) swimming, to easy lap swimming, to vigorous lap swimming is there.  The compendium even breaks it down into type of stroke - breast, freestyle, and butterfly.  You can check out the compendium yourself, at this link

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Just What Do Those High Tech Swim Suits Do? Illusions

Late last month, I found myself swimming (indoors naturally) in a lane adjacent to a man who was wearing one of those new high-tech swim suits.  The suit was a one-piece job with a rash-guard top (short-sleeves) and above-the-knee length lower half.  The swimmer was nothing exceptional, but as he glided by me, seemingly effortlessly, I was shocked.  Was I swimming in the same water as this guy?  I studied him as we parallel swam for half a lap before he zoomed ahead.  What was going on?!  Well, I kept up this voyeurism until I got some ideas. Here's what I noticed.  The suit held the swimmer a good two inches higher in the water than I.  That alone eliminated some of the drag from the water. 

Leaving that day, I wanted one of those suits.  But thinking back on it now, I think not.  Much like wearing fins - just for speed - a suit that makes me faster would do just that.  It wouldn't make me a stronger swimmer.  It would just makes me look like a stronger swimmer.  In fact, it would probably make me feel like a crappy swimmer on those days when I wore a traditional suit.