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HEALTH, SWIM (permalink) 09.18.2012
giddy, giddy, giddy
the first time i swam 2,000 yards without stopping, it took me 55 minutes.

that day, i set a goal of swimming that distance in under 30 minutes.

it took four months to knock five minutes off my time to be under 50 minutes.

the next five mintues took me a bit longer, like a full twelve months longer. BUT as of last friday i can claim an under-45 minute pool mile.

and, in answer to your next question, yes, of course i have the blow by blow for you to enjoy. click through to see every swim i've swum over the last twenty months.

click to enlarge

the big swings you see in the times of the last few swims are due to me trying different stroke styles out that i've dabbled in over the summer. keep in mind i've never taken a class or received a lesson. even though virtually everyone has told me to do so, i prefer finding a method that feels comfortable and natural for me. thus, i have a high-cadence fast stroke, a long, methodical stroke, and a few in between. usually in a swim i alternate between styles, trying to improve my technique for each. for my first few indoor swims this year, i stuck with one stroke through the whole swim to see if i could see a discernible time difference, and as you see, i did. so the plan is to focus on the technique that earned me this time drop and see if i can perfect it even further so the next time i'm talking about this with you, i'm clocking times in the 3X:XX range. as the subject line reads: giddy, giddy, giddy.

KIDS, SWIM (permalink) 02.13.2012
after all the hours spent alone, it is rather nice to have a swim buddy.
bella has been between sporting endeavors (girls on the run and indoor soccer). to bridge the gap in the winter months i suggested she join me for swimming. she agreed and even sounded eager, that is until i told her to suit up because it was time to go. this was met with a surprised, "what? now?". after marty helped her get her stuff together we met in the foyer to head out. as i opened the door bella stopped me and asked:

how long are we going to be there?

an hour.

an hour! can i take a book?

no you can't take a book.

why not?

because you're going to be swimming.

for the whole hour?

the answer, of course, was yes for the whole hour. i told bella i would explain how it worked during the walk there. to this she said, "WE'RE WALKING!". the answer to this, of course, was again yes we were walking.

after we arrived to the pool, changed in our respective locker rooms, and met at a lane, bella was heard to say the following things during the experience:
  • ok. so maybe i'm glad i didn't bring my book. this is fun. (her giddiness was largely due to the discovery that she, at ten, could swim faster than me. i wish i had a worthy excuse but the girl seems to have about four gears i'm missing).
  • i thank you for not wearing a swim suit like the guy in the next lane. (he was in a speedo. after glancing over i told bella i was sure everyone at the pool was thankful i didn't wear a speedo).
  • next week ... (i'm intensely glad she's excited about next week)
  • they were from another country so they couldn't help me. (when i sent her into the locker room, since it was her first time at this gym, i told her to ask someone in there to point her to the general use lockers. the only girls in the locker room were part of a basketball team from another university and didn't know what to tell her. bella deems anyone not from our town to be from another country.).
marty brought the boys to the gym while we were still in the pool. there was a basketball tournament going on and we were going to watch some of the games after our swim. they watched us for a little bit from the windowed observation deck before heading to the gym. after the swim and the game when walking home, i asked alex what he thought of me and bella swimming and if he'd like to do it when he gets his skills up a bit more. he said, "no i don't really want to jump off the diving board." alex has connected swimming laps to going off the diving board because swimming a lap is a pre-diving board requirement of our summer pool. i guess he thinks bella and i really, really, really want to go off the diving board given all the laps we swim.

HEALTH, SWIM (permalink) 02.09.2012
if only i could watch my finances with an equal interest
i've noticed a curious thing about my swimming endeavor. of all the annual learns i've ever taken on, never before have more people encouraged me to get a coach or proper lessons than with swimming. some after watching me and some after just hearing of what i'd been doing. they say it would do wonders for me. i've always resisted (without really knowing why). even after reading ben franklin's poor richard quip He that teaches himself, hath a fool for his master, i still resisted. over the year i've figured out my reluctance and it is this: i believe in the slow, methodical drip of ability that comes from contemplation, self-study, persistence, and doing. so while my stroke is still sloppy and not what it could be, it is better than it was a year ago. and it will be that much better next year and each year i keep focusing on it.

the above point admitted, i have allowed one person to offer me instruction. my unusual mentor is an always smiling, slightly chubby, ten year old asian boy. i get the sense his mom makes him come to the pool to swim laps, probably because of his weight. i've seen him at my indoor place a couple times as we appear to be on similar schedules. his face lights up when he sees me and he waves his arm to the space next to him inviting me to share his lane. it seems his stay is governed more by time than by laps as he is more interested in talking than swimming. when i pause between techniques he compliments parts of my stroke (your rotation is good) and makes suggestions of how it might improve (try to reach out farther in front of you). occasionally i'll ask him about something (should i be looking forward) and he'll casually say, "nah, that doesn't matter, look where you want." it must be his jovial ease that makes me drawn to his counsel. in part because when you're with someone as happy as he seems to be, you can't help but be a gram happier too.

for those wondering how i've been progressing, click through the below image for your answer.

click to enlarge

LIFE, HEALTH, SWIM (permalink) 05.05.2011
never has five minutes seemed so long
here's a swimming update. for those who may not have been following along or don't care or can't remember, a brief re-cap. i spent three years trying to swim a mile (starting from not swimming at all). on december 12, 2010 i made it, swimming 2000 yards (a pool mile) in fifty-five minutes. upon reaching that milestone i set a new long, long, long-term goal of swimming those 2000 yards in under thirty minutes. in pursuit of this goal i plan on swimming 2000 yards once a week for the rest of my life. as a first sensible step towards the thirty minute mile i set out to get my time under fifty minutes. after a mere five months (!!!) of effort i made it last week with a time of 49:24.

a funny thing about the time is that i've been feeling stronger and faster each week. a few weeks back i felt so good while swimming i half expected to blow by the goal coming in at forty-seven or even forty-six minutes. on that swim it turned out i dropped two and a half minutes logging my worst time in weeks and ending at almost fifty-three minutes. then last week walking to the pool i felt terrible. i felt so fatigued and dull i almost turned and went home. i decided to go though the paces and assume a low time for the workout. instead of just limping through the forty laps it turns out i got my best time ever. as nike sagely and often suggests; just do it.

so i don't get called out again and have someone send me a chart, i thought i'd better go ahead and chart my progress ahead of time.

and if anyone besides me thinks me ever getting to a thirty minute mile sounds ludicrous, i figured out that if i can just improve my time by five seconds every month, i'll hit my mark by the spry age of sixty-two. if that sounds like a ridiculously long time away, i have an inkling we'll all be there before we know it.

also, the more accurate times starting in january are thanks to a super jazzy lap-counting watch i got for christmas.

next stop ... forty-five minutes.

HEALTH, SPORTS, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 01.19.2011
a good quarter for dearmitt stock
when i talked about swimming a mile and shared the schedule, i commented that it looked less impressive on paper than it felt achieving the goal. a surprising number of people commented on my choice of words and said i was wrong and it did look impressive. but yesterday one fellow in particular, a friend i used to work with, took it a giant step farther than the other folks by vividly proving me wrong.

fact of the matter is, he was a bit astonished that i didn't graph it myself and instead used a pedestrian and mockable table to showcase the data. i have no defense but his email charting my effort put a big and excited smile across my face. thank you ryan b.

and he named his chart tdawesome.

more smiles.

HEALTH, SPORTS, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 01.05.2011
the road to 40 laps
some more to yesterday's post about swimming the mile. below you will find what is essentially my buildup to a mile after i learned how to decently swim a single lap (without looking completely embarrassing). the telling thing about the below data is that once you get to ten laps, the world starts opening up because if you can swim ten laps, you can almost surely swim twenty. and then if you can swim twenty, thirty is just around the corner. and after swimming thirty, forty ain't much more than a drip in an already full bucket.

swim date
total laps swam
max consecutive laps in a row
09/08 15 2
09/12 20 3
09/15 20 3
09/19 22 3
09/22 23 4
09/25 20 2
10/13 22 5
10/17 26 6
10/23 27 7
10/27 30 8
11/03 35 10
11/14 22 20
12/04 35 30
12/12 42 40

sadly, it looks far less impressive on paper than experiencing it did. and i imagine the same will hold true for my twenty year effort to get my time from 54:27 to 29:59.

HEALTH, SPORTS, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 01.04.2011
for any wondering
you may remember my earlier declaration to swim a mile. on december 12, 2010 @ 2:20 pm, i joined the club of humans who can swim one mile.

transcript of a fictitious interview of myself by myself in the head of myself as i pulled myself out of the pool just after.

for those not familiar, how many laps do you have to swim to swim a mile?
well, there are two schools of thought here. some people quibble over the exact distance and claim anywhere from 33 to 36 laps is the number, but non-tourist divined something called the pool-mile which is simply 2,000 meters and in a 25-meter pool is an even 40 laps, or 80 lengths. this is what i swam, a pool-mile.

and how long did it take?
the first time i swam it, it took me 54 minutes.

how did you feel when you were done?
giddy, great and grand.

how long did it take you to be able to swim the mile?
technically, three years, but i started not knowing how to swim. the first year was learning the stroke, the freestyle, which some folks call the crawl. the second year was spent learning how to breathe, while swimming the crawl of course. and the third year was mostly about conditioning and bringing it all together.

now that you've achieved this goal, what will you do next?
well, regarding swimming, i plan on swimming one mile, once a week for the rest of my life with the hope of getting my time to under 30 minutes. regarding the next thing i'm going to learn to do, i've named knitting as the thing i will focus on in 2011.

well, it was going to be drawing, but i was convinced (or rather cajoled and coerced) by a new friend to switch to knitting. actually she won me over with a cogent and spirited argument which i'm now glad and excited about.

and is there a knitting goal akin to the mile?
yes. to knit a sweater like the two jCrew ones i've been wearing for the last fourteen years.

and do you think a year is enough time to learn how to do this?
i'm told it is.

and if it isn't?
i guess i'll just have to then knit me a thong to wear while swimming my laps. this should properly incentivize my teacher to see that i make my sweater goal.

HEALTH, PERSONAL, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 09.03.2010
swimming update
one month ago i talked about how after three years of working at it i finally swam my first official 50m pool length. three weeks later, august 22, i swam that same 50m freestyle length but this time when i reached the wall, i did a flip-turn and swam a return 50m length back. had you seen me after i completed this circuit you would have thought i was just accepted into the space program.

last weekend i swam fifteen full laps with flip turns in each (resting after each lap), and this weekend, the last weekend the outdoor pools are open, i hope to swim twenty laps, still with a rest after each, which would represent my new distance goal of a nautical pool mile (2,000 meters). the last step is to remove the need to rest after each lap. the only sad part to this story is i'm going to have to do this in shorter (25m), indoor pools during the winter months.

SPORTS, HOW-TO, LIFE, SWIM (permalink) 08.02.2010
jimmyD put the soul in my stroke
when bella was born i couldn't swim. swim officially that is. i could swim underwater and dog paddle, but no for real strokes. three years ago i set an annual goal for myself to swim a mile. that is with no-stopping, flip-turns and all. at my city pool, which is an olympic-sized pool with 50m lengths, this would mean 18 laps, or 36 lengths. for most pools, it would be 36 laps and/or 72 lengths.

after one summer with much help from marty and by studying other lap swimmers, i learned how to swim freestyle, which some people call the crawl. this was the stroke i chose because it is the style i most coveted when watching other swimmers. at the end of the first year i could swim a 50m length with a reasonable amount of effort and needing several minutes of rest afterwards and before moving to the next length. since two lengths were out of my reach, the 36 i needed were astronomically distant.

i continued working into the next summer. my stroke was improving but i was still very much struggling with the oxygen management. by this time i knew there was something tragically wrong in my technique. i kept practicing thinking that something would click, akin to learning to drive a manual transmission, and i would just figure it out. the click never came in year two. there was a bright spot however in that while on our summer vacation, the fifteen year old son of a family friend taught me how to do flip-turns while we stayed with them for a week. i didn't get the technique truly figured out and working for several weeks but he definitely gave me the tools i needed. so even though at the end of year two i seemed no closer to my goal of eighteen laps, i was invigorated by my ability to do a flip-turn (a skill that was far more daunting than the actual swimming).

this is my third year working on this goal and i 'm calling saturday, july 31, 2010 (@12:30pm) the day i learned to swim, for real, because on this day the click came. it started as every one before it had. i drove to the pool, found an open lane, set my towel and stuff down on a chair, slid into the water, glanced at the pristine blue sky, stared down the 50m lane, got my goggles situated, took several deep breaths, thought about my mechanics, and pushed off just as i had hundreds of times before. but this time was different because this time i reached the other side ... and with plenty left in my tank. no racing against my fading breath. no pulling up. no switching my stroke to an above water option mid-way. i just went and went and went and went and then i saw the painted T at the bottom of the pool and i was there. elation! i rested for a few moments and pushed off back the other way. stroke, stroke, stroke, T. more elation. and i would go on to be elated six more times that day. and eight more the next.

it seems my stroke did not have a pronounced enough body swivel in the water and in addition to being inefficient was causing me to swim 'flat' which was making it hard for me to get good breaths of air. i'm crediting getting over this three year hurdle to a confident-rich, moxy-full kid i've never met named jimmy dshea. he posted a youTube video about the freestyle and stressed the importance of swiveling your body. his emphasis put this in my head and made me more conscious of this mechanic the next time i swam, which was this last saturday.

so while i still haven't yet gotten my mile, i now possess everything i need and plan on making quick work of this next bit. for my next challenge, i'm going to try to become as charismatic as my new and revered swim mentor, jimmy dshea.

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