Monday, August 4, 2008

Swim milestone for real

I keep trying but I truly suck as a swimmer. (Previous entry: swim: freestyle.)

Finally, I feel I've achieved something tangible in the pool: I mile continuous. To help you understand why I'm so enormously proud of this tiny achievement, here is an underwater picture taken with my Olympus 720SW:

(Link to the video clip at the end of this entry.)

I am as horizontal as I can get. But my entire body is under water! I'm a sinker. As a sinker, I have to overcome a lot of extra water resistance. (Compare with a normal swimmer - who, when lying flat, has their butt and head poking up above water. Obviously, water resistance trumps air resistance.)

Another efficiency disadvantage of having to swim underwater (instead of normally) is that to be able to breathe I need to over-rotate and tilt my head a bit to get my mouth above water to suck in air. Basically looking at the ceiling instead of horizontally at the divider.

I only learned to swim a few years and have had trouble banging out the laps ever since.

Technique-wise, I've benefited enormously from advice since my first adult-learn-to-swim class. But progress has been painful slow. Definitely my worst "sport".

Some chronology of my sorry battle with the pool:
  1. Needing to breathe every half stroke. Basically thrashing.
  2. Swim noseclip era.
    Embarassed to say it took a while until I could swim without it.
  3. Wearing neoprene long shorts to aid buoyancy.
    Hey, I was desperate!
    Managed my first 20 laps this way. Only years later, could I manage 20 laps unaided.
  4. Bilateral breathing. Every 1.5 strokes.
    A breakthrough. No more thrashing but limited me to 100 meters max at a time before I ran out of breath.
    Managed my first sorta "swimmer's mile" this way with breathing breaks every 100 meters. (See previous post swim milestone.)
    Doesn't really count...
  5. Breathing on the right side only.
    Another breathrough. 20 laps unaided finally.
That brings me to this past weekend. I finally achieved my milestone, i.e. 1 mile continuously. I swam 38 laps (76 lengths) or 1900 yds sans breaks. A mile is 1760 yds but I did extra to make sure I didn't miscount.

It was done in a 25 yard pool though. (Theoretically, I should be able to repeat the feat in the main 50 meter pool as well.)

Here is the previously mentioned clip from which the stlll was taken. (Warning: 640x480, 27.5MB.)

My next goal? To swim 1 mile without having the lifeguard come around and ask me if I'm okay :-)

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