29 December 2010

I taught my daughter something

When it comes to swimming, my 10 year old daughter kicks my ass. She's faster, she can swim longer, she knows all four strokes. And she can flip turn. She's, like, the complete package.

She is officially on her December break, which runs from the end of JOs to the first Monday in January. But she never did her swim-a-thon to raise money for the Oakland Learn to Swim Program so she had to get those yards in somehow.

On Christmas Eve off to Campolindo we go for open swim, hop in the water and I find out that she does about 8 laps to my 5 or sometimes 6. What she doesn't know how to do is to keep her mind focused while doing long long sets. This is something that she never has to worry about at swim practice because they work almost exclusively on strokes and technique, rarely ever venturing into a set longer than 100-200 yards at a time. But, for a swimathon, you just have to swim and swim and swim.

So I got to to teach her something. During a short wall break, I asked her what color the band aid was about two-thirds of the way down the lane. She had no idea. So I told her my secret, as I swim, I look for something like that, some small thing at the bottom of the pool that I try to learn as much about as possible in the brief moment when I can see it each lap. Usually, it's a hair elastic or a band-aid or an unusual leaf. One time it was a living salamander.

In this pool, it was a blue band-aid with some sort of holiday motif living 10 feet under the surface. It took us about thirty laps to agree that it was a polar bear fishing but it made those thirty laps go a lot faster and less painful.

Now if she could just teach me to swim butterfly.


  1. Have you considered that investigating the blue band-aid could be what's making you give up three laps to your daughter for every eight she swims?

    With this innocent-sounding diversion, you could be undoing the results of years of professional coaching.

    I think the CIA was guilty of just such tactics when they infiltrated the East German team in the years leading up to the 1972 Olympics. They had planted US silver dollars on the bottom of the practice pool which were worth a fortune at the time in Eastern bloc black markets.

    East German swimmers would stop to pick up the coins, seriously compromising their lap times.

    The plot escalated as US agents began leaving small kitchen appliances on the pool bottom, most of which were supplied by TV gadget pitchman, Ron Popeil. (Admonitions that certain appliances were 'not dishwasher safe' were part of an elaborate CIA smokescreen).

    The plot blew up in the CIA's collective face in the famous 'Veg-O-Matic Incident' that was front page news in Pravda for weeks during the spring of 1972 and very nearly cost Richard Nixon his re-election bid.

  2. I just find it amazing how teenagers and pre-teenagers just seem to stick to the water surface, whereas we older swimmers have to fight with balance issues and sink much deeper in the water. It's kind of unfair :-)

    To learn butterfly, I might be able to help:


    Good luck!

  3. I can recognize a Monarch and a Swallowtail but, other than that, I'm hopeless at butterflies too.

  4. Very good tip. I am "burdened" with a pool that requires 3 laps for 100 yards, so I got a swimp3 to help pass the time during long swims. But now...