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.