Bodies in water.
Even though we call this thing SwimVacation, in practice, the vacation comes first. This isn’t a training camp. We don’t allow extended periods of discomfort, we don’t slog through mile after mile of suffering in sloppy, choppy water. As such, we try to scout our swims just before deciding on a course. This morning Captain Ken and I took the dinghy out of Little Harbor to check the conditions along a stretch of the island with a great reef where we often swim. Too sloppy. 2-3 foot wind waves and a head current. This would only be our guest’s second swim of the trip, so no reason to put them through that. Instead, we plotted a longer course across the deepwater mouth of Little Harbor, and all had a great swim. Afterward, Heather donned her scuba gear and took video of everyone’s stroke.
We set sail, tacked across the Drake Channel and back 2 times, and pulled into Salt Harbor on Salt Island. Activities through the afternoon included hiking, seaglass collecting, snorkeling, napping, then a swim to the wreck The Rhone. First mate Ben escorted us in the dinghy, which had some engine problems. As swimmers, this is really no concern to us, but we were glad that he got a tow back to Promenade from a nice family in their little dinghy.
Gyoza and coconut shrimp appeared under the bimini, followed by seared tuna steaks and rice. Suffering was at a minimum.
Our stroke analysis session commenced, with cheesecake. After 40 years of swimming, what keeps me interested? I get bored rather quickly with most activities, but why has swimming stuck? I think the answer is in the search for the perfect technique. Water is this medium we humans haven’t conquered. After thousands of years of development, debates rage over sailboat hull design. We still haven’t figured out how to effectively harness the power of waves, or the tide. I can’t overstate the complexity of swimming technique. Buoyancy, balance, stroke rate, breathing, head position, body type, flexibility, all play a role. On top of all that, we each have our own, individual hydrodynamics. In the past 20 years, the crawl stroke has undergone several major changes, and several philosophies are floating around out there, constantly debated. I try not to geek out on it too much, but It all fascinates me, and not a stroke goes by where I’m not thinking about little tweaks to improve something efficiency. It keeps me coming back.
Guide Maury led the stroke discussion as he played the videos Heather took this morning. Maury, too has an endless curiosity about how the human body moves through the water. For each of our guests, he picked one or two things for them to focus on, often a little tweak, like “rotate your left hip slightly more”. Several of our guests have coaching and stroke technique experience, and it was great to hear ideas and perspectives from Kendra, Laura, and Sean. We have a whole week ahead of us to perfect these strokes. We won’t get there, but maybe there’s something beautiful in that, too.