Thursday, July 01, 2010

Front crawl

Is it just me or is swimming the most knackering of physical activities if you’re a bit out of practice? Something to do with the breathing rhythm. After just one length of the Kingswood pool the other day I had to take a breather. Then I just about managed three in a row. Then I had to stop. One problem, I suppose, is that swimming lengths is incredibly boring so I don’t often do it except on holiday, when for some reason it becomes the only physical exercise I don’t resent. By the end of a week somewhere hot I can swim like a fish, but in the gap between hols my lungs seem to forget how to cope.

The other problem is that I insist on doing front crawl. Breast stroke, which is the easiest and the one everyone really wants to do, feels like a cop-out and is only really permissible for OAPs and women. Backstroke is impractical in busy pools and you’d have to be a prize plonker indeed to do the butterfly in public. So front crawl is the only sensible option.

Also I’ve always admired barrel-chested men who can do endless lengths of front crawl with a beautiful, symmetrical steadiness and economy of style. Burt Lancaster in the (bizarre) film The Swimmer had the knack, and so did my dad, so I suppose that as with so many things I really just want to emulate the best bits of him. Certainly I have inherited the barrel-chest but I’m not so sure my front crawl is as elegant. The good thing about swimming however, is that you can’t see yourself doing it, so it’s quite easy to imagine you’re just like Burt Lancaster.


Willard said...

I think the problem is just what you said about lengths. They are just so boring and routine. Widths are better but you have to do more of them and they make you look a fool.

My solution -- and I pass this wisdom on hoping that you really appreciate the gift I'm about to give you -- is... wait for it... diagonals.

Nobody expects them and they're longer than a length so you can do fewer of them. You'll be the talk of the baths. Trust me.

Brit said...

Revolutionary, Willard! That's what I call 'blue sky thinking'.

malty said...

If we were meant to swim Charlie Darwin would have given us gills, swimming pools are only of any use to people with dickey tickers or those whose house lacks a bathroom.
As a general rule the more sedentary the lifestyle the fewer lengths can be achieved, according to doppledingers third law of chlorination.

Funny thing about gills, we can actually be born with the residue of them, from which branchial cysts develop, so we are, perhaps, aquatic after all.

worm said...

I envy people like you who are aquatic types who can swim front crawl. I never learnt how to swim front crawl, only breaststroke. And I think I must have the heaviest, densest bones in the universe because I just don't float at all. If I stop swimming for even a split second, I sink.

Brit said...

Another problem with swimming is that it's hopeless for weight loss - after even the feeblest swim one could eat a scabby horse between two slices of mouldy bread (though I usually get a nostalgic craving for a hot chocolate and a packet of Frazzles).

Willard said...

The other problem with swimming pools is that you can’t really trust other people to control their bladders as well as you control your own. You could put enough chlorine in that pool to turn my ears green and I wouldn’t want to get in that water.

I often wonder how swimmers manage to ignore such facts.

malty said...

Someone, somewhere, as we blog, is putting the pee in pool.

worm said...

..and I bet half of france is putting the piss in piscine

Sean said...

Brit you are wrong.

try interval training, 5 x breast, nice and easy then full speed crawl x2. I lost 3 stone in a month doing this for an hour a day after a back operation.

Easy breast stroke is probably on its own the best fitness routine you can do as long as you do it long enough, it creeps up on you.

As for boredom try this.

or this if you are feeling flush you might consider this, dont pay more than 7k, these guys are on very big margins.

Or I guess you can kkep an eye out at the trading post?

Sean said...


Brit said...

Ah, having been disconcerted by a most unSean-like agreement on the football stuff, it's such a relief for you to once again begin a comment with "You are wrong."

Sean said...

As my wife points, we only have to talk when we have something to disagree about, the rest is comfortable silence.

jonathan law said...

I love swimming and do it most days but never seem to get any better. I suppose it falls into that dejecting class of activities where practice never makes perfect if you don’t acquire the right techniques early on.

Of course it’s boring, but so are many perfectly delightful things: Wiltshire, pasta, The Faerie Queene, grass, piano music, fruit.

Brit said...

Excellent list there, Jonathan. Would you say those items were also a bit meh?

(I notice that I included lane swimming there - some unexpected consistency).

Sean said...

..I forgot

water temperature matters with swimming fitness and especially weight loss.

When you come out of the pool, you have probably been swimming in less that 23c, which makes your body feel very hungry as it looks to re-establish heat.

So keep warm after swimming if you are looking to loose weight and dont eat!