Re: A Truly Pathetic Attempt to Find Consolation in the Particular and/or Universal


it's really hard work, hard hard work.

Posted by: bryan | Link to this comment | 11-28-04 1:47 AM
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Fine post - bet you put a lot of labor into it...

Posted by: rilkefan | Link to this comment | 11-28-04 10:59 AM
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Perhaps you may take some consolation in this, from Wikipedia

The front crawl has been in use since ancient times. In the western world, the front crawl was first seen in 1844 in London. Native Americans participating in this competition swam front crawl, defeating the British breaststroke swimmers easily. As this produced considerably splashing in the water and embarrassment outside, it was considered a barbaric and "un-European" way to swim to the British gentlemen, who preferred to keep their heads out of the water. Subsequently, the British continued to swim only breaststroke until 1873.

So you have ample precedent if you wish to maintain that the breaststroke is more gentle and refined than the crawl (the Victorian attitude was not without the taint of racism, but you don't have to own the racist part).

Posted by: son volt | Link to this comment | 11-28-04 11:01 AM
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Iranian vs. Swede in swimming? The Swede wins? What is the surprise in that? The hard part is knowng that she is not a swimmer. I am not sure what makes fast swimmers really fast, but I would imagine that BMI is important. What could essentially be confusing is that while a muscular body helps the swimmer overcome the swimming fatigue, a body with a lot of fat could help the swimmer to float better which could also help overcome the fatigue due to fighting the gravity. May be some sort of balance between the two is needed for the amateur swimmer. May be you are too skinny. :-) Also, other criterions such as body hair is important, and I would imagine an Iranian feller might have a tad bit more body hair than a Swede, but I could be wrong. If you are really competitive, may be the way to go is to gain weight and shave the body hair. That is not hard work, and it certainly would not disturbe the premise of your life-long contention.

Posted by: Veiled | Link to this comment | 11-28-04 11:31 AM
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Son, I love that it took the Brits 30 years to change. Now *that* is the complacency of Empire.

Veiled, the ex is not a Swede, that's the instructor. But you're right that I'm too skinny, and have trouble floating. Shaving one's body hair, however, when one is not already superfast, is like taking a day hike up Mt. Monadnock outfitted in expedition gear.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-28-04 11:40 AM
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Lost four times to your ex. Who just got her Ph.D. And after you'd been taking swim lessons.

Here is the true measure of the shame you should feel: henceforth, my fictive "exotic" personality (assumed for meeting women) will no longer be Iranian, but rather Bulgarian.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-28-04 2:52 PM
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I was a competitive swimmer when I was a kid and part of what I remember from that is that good freestyler's (crawl) had strong arms and backs but less strength in their legs, but good breaststrokers had much stronger legs and tended to build up muscles in their shoulders rather than their arms.

You also find that freestylers will have a different style of swimming depending on whether they do sprints or long distance - a bit like runners really. My freestyle was always just a training tool, not for racing, so I have a style which is the equivalent of a marathon runners style - not too fast, but relaxed and energy-conserving.

Of course, I'm also not fast because I have too many curves in the wrong places. Puberty was the reason why stopped being a competitive swimmer in the first place.


Posted by: OLS | Link to this comment | 11-28-04 10:21 PM
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Since you raced four times I'm going to guess you didn't get tired, at least not too much. Were the races more or less sprints?

If so, perhaps you have a higher ratio of slow twitch versus fast twitch muscles. Slow twitch are better at distances. There isn't much you can do about the hardware (or wetware) you 've been given, except do the best you can, and challenge her to a 1K meter race next time.

Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 11-29-04 9:59 AM
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Alas, I'm fast twitch, all the way. At the risk of sounding like I'm making excuses, there are two things going on. First, it's true that I'm far stronger in the legs than arms, so it's likely that the crawl will never be my strong stroke. Second, it really is all about technique. I stayed up until the wee hours after she beat me, going frame-by-frame through video of Olympic swimmers (yeah, I'm like that). It turns out, I really was just pulling incorrectly, using the wrong muscles. Distance per stroke is a good way to judge a stroke, and the very next day I was able to knock two strokes off one length of the pool. I'll whoop her ass next time.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-29-04 10:18 AM
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Specifically, in case anyone still cares, check out Ian Thorpe's elbow in frames 7, 8, and 9. I, and I'll bet most other people, think of the elbow as travelling in a semi-circle in front of (under) the body, but it travels in more of a line beside the body--it's like doing bawkbawk chickens wings. When you do chicken wings, you use the powerful lats; when you move under the body, you use weak shoulder stabilizers.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-29-04 10:40 AM
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Dear Ogged,

Lovely post.

I sooooo sympathize with you. I swam for about the past 5 years in a master's group (which I highly highly highly highly recommend btw) and when I started I could not really swim. By the end I was cranking out 1.5 hour 3.5-4.5K workouts. But from the middle range speedwise I still looked to the fasties (those that swam in college or beyond usually) and really tried to break down the relationship between technique, genetics, and sheer time. (I sort of go through the same thing running.) Swimming for a bit out of that context with a buddy of mine who was close to Olympic caliber finally put things into perspective. We calculated that at the current rate I am swimming, I would have to put about 10 yrs in to equal the amount of time he has spent at the pool since childhood. I resolved to not really ask the above-mentioned question until I approached the level of time spent as some of these other folks.

My unsolicited advice --- get in a group . . . and take solace in the fact that you probably do somethings much much better than your ex and the hot swim instructor. There are masters swim groups all over the US (and the world) and I cannot sufficiently emphasize their benefits in building up your swimming.

Posted by: Balasubramani | Link to this comment | 11-29-04 10:41 AM
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Wow, ogged, you're a piece of work.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-29-04 10:43 AM
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Thanks. I do plan (I think) to join a master's group, and that's why I'm taking the lessons now, because I want to start at a respectable baseline of competence. But I'm wary, because a master's group will make me think about competition, and competition, as you can see, makes me lose my mind a bit, and I'm worried I'll end up spending four hours a day in the pool.

Anyway, as you're a swimmer, you'll appreciate this tidbit: she was just outtouching me in the crawl, so we tried one race where she swam crawl and I swam breast--exact same finish; she beat me by a hair. Weird, eh?

B-dub, your comment is indistinguishable from comment spam. Congrats.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-29-04 10:56 AM
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This thread has been worthwhile for many reasons, but my favorite has been this:

I stayed up until the wee hours after she beat me, going frame-by-frame through video of Olympic swimmers (yeah, I'm like that)

I was about to make fun, then I realized I'd probably do it too. Good point about the lats.

Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 11-29-04 11:04 AM
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Lies! It contains no links, ogged, no links. Superadded to which, is automated comment spam clever enough to refer to the poster by name? I don't know, but I see that the "posted by ogged" bit has its own div with a meaningful class name, so I guess it's possible. (Combining something like that with Eliza or MegaHAL or even whatever drives the Emacs psychologist would be a good step for comment spam, allowing it to go beyond merely saying "hey nice post, really interesting" and into actually appearing to discuss the post. This emacs only seems to be able to psychoanalyze Zippy the Pinhead, unfortunately.)

Besides, oggedchen, watching Olympic swimmers frame by frame because your ex beat you? I think my comment bears up. Even comment spam is right once a day.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-29-04 11:08 AM
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Who just went digging into the source code to defend himself from a petty insult? You and I, w-lfs-n, we are not so different, eh?

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-29-04 11:14 AM
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Ah, the vanity of small differences!

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-29-04 11:24 AM
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This is completely off topic, but since Apostropher is currently down due to a deluge of comments spam, here is something pretty damn cool that I would have expected to find via his site:

Current World Sunlight Map

Current Dawn and Dusk

Current Moon Phase

I hope Apostropher's technical difficulties end soon, he's missed.

Posted by: Mitch Mills | Link to this comment | 11-29-04 7:07 PM
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Apostropher is back.

Posted by: Mitch Mills | Link to this comment | 11-30-04 6:22 AM
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Oh no, she's moving away??

Posted by: Bob | Link to this comment | 11-30-04 8:32 AM
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Apostropher is back.

And $69.99 poorer for the experience.

Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-30-04 11:03 AM
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