Friday, January 25, 2013

The Put Down Factor

Saw Swimming Studies on someone's must-read list. It's an interesting book by Leanne Shapton, an almost Olympian. What I enjoyed about the story is Shapton's devotion to swimming -- all the way up to her fascination with the Titanic disaster from the perspective of a swimmer.

Being a newer swimmer, I haven't spent time considering swimming-related injuries so I found the tidbit below interesting:
Freestylers, backstrokers, and butterflyers usually have shoulder problems, but most breaststrokers have knee problems...After workouts and races, I would sit in the bleachers with a styrofoam cup of frozen water, rolling the flat ice against the insides of my knees until they turned bright pink and lost all feeling... (4)
Shapton has illustrations of swimmers and a Smithsonian-like catalog of swimming suits that she once owned along with notes of where she bought them from and where she swam in them (Canadian Olympic trials, Switzerland). I like Shapton's portraits of what it requires to compete then later of her non-competitive tendencies:
The last ten or fifteen meters are tho most painful, physically and mentally. Muscles flood with lactic acid. Strokes shorten, weaken, churn, and find no purchase. It's a terrible, desperate feeling, where the results of training are determined. Not enough cardio and your entire body fails, not enough drills and your stroke slips, not enough strength training and muscles burn like paper curling in flames. (33-34)
* * *
I'm a poorly drawn jock. I suspect, these days, I am more suited to bathing...(288)
Swimming Studies is a bit eccentric but I was drawn in from the beginning and couldn't put it down. I totally related to Shapton when she forgets to pack her swimming suit and is at a hotel with a famous swimming pool. Been there -- not at a famous pool but leaving my swimming suit or workout gear at home because I didn't think I'd have a window of opportunity then debating about whether I should buy something new...

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