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April 10, 2006

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G'day Sluttybuttfest:-) Sorry, am Aussie and we ALWAYS sledge our mates! Heh heh. In Oz I reckon 95% of Aussies learn to swim in the first couple of years of school, what do ya reckon is the % of Americans who can swim? We are of very different composition here, probably 75-80% of all Aussies live in CITIES (+100,000) yet I have read that the in the USA over 50% of people grow up in towns under 10,000 pop. So, we are EXTREMELY urbanised. What is your take? Regards.

will pass the news on to my son the freestyler....thanks.

Not only do most Australians live within an hour's drive of the coast, and most of us learn to swim at school, but swimming here has a better profile than any other individual sport. Michael Phelps once commented that he can walk down a street anywhere in the US and no-one will know who he is; in Australia, he gets recognised. Local champion swimmers(Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Liesel Jones) are celebrities the level of US gridiron stars.

Swimming is something Australia does very well; unfortunately, something else we did well (OT, but possibly of interest to some here) was pay kickbacks to Saddam Hussein. The Australian Wheat Board is now believed to have paid more kickbacks than anyone else through the oil-for-food program. As these kickbacks were a criminal offence under Australian law, a very interesting inquiry is currently going on. I believe our prime minister could be testifying soon.

Anyway, hope the eyes feel better soon, Slart.

Shinobi you are wrong, Australia does swim very well. Libby Lenton received 5 Gold medals at the com games and 5 at eorld champs in a metter of 3 weeks and broke three world records in the last six months.
And we do not all live within such easy access to coast, which sould matter very little anyway, we are talking about pools not ocean.

Questions to the Aussies. What is the difference between sledging and slagging off? Also, any prepositions go with sledging? Ta!

I think Shinobi said Australia does swim very well, Debbie.

Greg, I have no idea what percentage of people in the US can swim. I know I got lessons at the age of 4 or 5 because I nearly drowned (actually all six of us did, at once) but didn't start swimming competetively until grade 10. I didn't know any people who couldn't swim, but I knew a whole lot who couldn't swim well.

You're right about swimming being a more high-profile sport in Australia; I think it must be a cultural thing. Once I got into it I would read the library's copies of Swimming World dog-eared, so I must be part Aussie, at least in spirit.

And of course just about anyone not involved with the sport would talk about the Speedos, as if the whole point of the sport was the parade of exposed flesh.

I think Shinobi said Australia does swim very well, Debbie.

Yes, I did. And while I agree that not all of us live within easy access of the coast, compare the percentage of our population compared to that of say the US that has easy access to a swimming beach. While many people still swim in pools (including me), the proximity to the sea I think is part of why we love swimming so much.

Questions to the Aussies. What is the difference between sledging and slagging off? Also, any prepositions go with sledging?

Strictly speaking, sledging is slagging off (insulting, taunting) done during sport, to unsettle the opponent. Owing to the rules on insults, the equivalent in Gridiron is telling a player on the other team that they're having a bad game. Most sledging in cricket, despite the gentlemanly reputation of the game, would violate posting rules on this blog. Some would cause the posters at Free Republic to blush.

Some of the cleaner examples are:
Rod Marsh (wicketkeeper, think catcher in baseball) to batsman Ian Botham: "How's your wife and my kids?"
Batsman Javed Miandad to Bowler Merv Hughes: "You fat bus conductor". Merv Hughes' reply after bowling Miandad out: "Tickets Please!"
Bowler Merv Hughes to the batsman: "I'll bowl you a piano - let's see if you can play that!"
Bowler (can't remember which one) to Viv Richards: "Can't you remember what the ball looks like? It's red and bounces about five feet!"
Viv Richards to Bowler, after hitting the ball out of the park: "You know what it looks like - you go and find it!"

Plenty of other funnier but filthier examples can be found on the wikipedia page on sledging.


Aussies have had the most contributions to modern swimming than any group. The Brits started competitive sport but it was a couple of Aussies, visiting some Polynesian paradise in the early 1900's, that noted that the natives there did quite well with some kind of forward crawl. The Brits favored a less spashy type of breast stroke. Said Aussies took their new prowness around and the new stroke (new to the modern west, there's reason to think that all Island peoples, and native Americans, did a type of forward crawl forever) caught on.

Since Island people had prior knowledge of this superior stroke it should be no surprise that Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku aka The Big Kahuna established the new record in the 100 yard free at about 55 sec bettering the old record by 4.5 secs. He was successful in the 19-teens.

In the early 20's the Americans made a play for supremacy and János Weißmüller, an immigrant and swimming like Tarzan, broke The Big Kahuna's record. At this point my swimming history breaks down. I know that the Aussies, Americans, Jappanese, Aussies, Americans all take turns at the top but I don't remember what order and when, exactly. I know that many of the modern training techniques were established in Australian - the rotation of the body for each stroke, emphasis on stroke length, intervals, tapers, that sort of thing.

I'm not a swimmer, myself, but my boy just completed his sophomore swimming season. He got a 59.8 in his 100 fly but that almost equals his 100 free. Go figure. I'm trying to get him some help in the other strokes so he can help his team in the 200 IM.

Encouragement without pushiness; that'd be my recommendation. I had neither much encouragement nor pushiness, so I think you can go a little far astray from the right amount and still have everything turn out ok.

As far as history of times, etc, goes, here's a couple of links. A history of world records would not yield itself quickly to Googling.

IM is an interesting event; you've got fly and breaststroke (which, shockingly to me, involve a lot of the same core body motions) and backstroke and freestyle, which are similar in their own way. Technique is probably more important than strength, but a good helping of both is not going to hurt. Conditioning, too. I never went under 2:10 in that event, mostly because I suck at backstroke and freestyle. My recommendation: if he wants to improve and you want to help him, go to swiminfo.com, and check out their learning resources. They have a LOT of technique-related things that are either DVDs or training aids, most of which are pretty decent. And you might want to consider a training seminar, where they go over technique and mindset, which are related but subtly different. In this, being coachable is far more valuable than having native ability.

It's possible to achieve breakthrough even if you're not particularly aflower with talent; I went from being a new swimmer as a sophomore to sectional champion as a junior to setting a school record that lasted 17 years as a senior, so commitment can do things even if the talent's not really there. If I hadn't slacked off between junior and senior years, I might have taken it all at state.

Then again, I might have hurt myself and gone down in flames. That's woulda-coulda-shoulda for you.

Brahahaha! My plan worked. I knew if I dropped a hint about my boy you would take the bait and do a data dump. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the links and the advice. I was thinking of getting a DVD by Terry Laughlin who does the Total Immersion books. 2:10 isn't bad for a 200 IM. Son Jon did a 2:24 as a sophomore and we were hoping to take about 10 secs off in the next year. He took 8 secs off his 100 fly this year. Another 6 and he has his high school record.

We're talking yards, yes?

Yeah, I'd rate technique as more important than practically anything. Even if you and Jon are completely, 100% satisfied with his coach, I'd recommend shelling out some cash (if you can spare it) to have him do a week-long stroke clinic over the summer. Ask around and find out which ones are reputable. I also recommend training over the summer; I'm pretty sure that I hurt myself twice (the second time was the last straw) trying to recover from a summer of little to no training. I'm not saying he can't take a week off here and there, just that he should train as much as he can. Setting goals ridiculously high is also pretty important. I can't tell you how ridiculous it sounded to me the beginning of my junior year when my coach told me I'd win sectionals that year. But it did start to make me think that if someone who knew what they were talking about thought I could do it, who was I to argue? This is not to say that a certain amount of agony wasn't required to make it so. I'm the only swimmer I've ever met, at any level, who did the 500 swim/500 kick/500 swim bits of the workout in stroke. With butterfly, he's just going to have to be inventive. He may never get to be Ian Crocker's speed, but setting the sights right at that point may get him faster than anyone else he knows.

And go check out USMS.org. There's lots of training resources there, too, as well as links to coaching clinics. This is one of those things that's almost too obvious to recognize, but the swimmer is practically the last guy on the planet who can spot what's wrong with his stroke. Going into college, my turns absolutely sucked. I mean, I was probably losing at least a second (in 100 yard race) off of my turns alone, and my start was awful, too. It took another guy on the team having pity on me to start getting it turned around.

If the clinic bit doesn't appeal, try taking a lot of video. Get a camera that you can take underwater if you can. Shoot as much video as you can, and then view it. Buy some technique tapes and compare: how does his stroke compare with some ideal (strokes vary between swimmers; right now making his stroke look more like any successful swimmer is probably a plus) in terms of pull, kick, recovery, timing, body position? If he has any body limitations, how can you surmount those? Does he need more shoulder flexibility, more arm strength, more leg strength? Then go from there. As I've said, there's a lot of material out there to work with in terms of stroke mechanics and stroke training techniques. It's possible (now more than, say, over a quarter century ago) to remake his stroke through drilling technique, and practicing the desired technique is more important than practicing hard. Practice bad form hard and you're reinforcing bad form. Get good form first, then push it as hard as you can until it starts breaking up. The more you can maintain form under oxygen debt and lactic acid buildup, the longer that form is going to hang together in a race.

Ok, all for now. You'd think I thought I was a coach or something.

Yards, yes. Aren't all High School times in yards? How about the YMCA meet you were referring to?

"and practicing the desired technique is more important than practicing hard."

This can't be emphasized enough. In swimming the strength gained by killing yourself won't overcome the gains of having an excellent stroke. (Having both is the way to win for those who aren't just genetic freaks).

Yeah, I wasn't sure where you were coming from, though, as in: inside the US. The Y meet was also in yards; Y Nationals were last week (outstanding times, BTW) and, you guessed it: yards.

Although the Y State meet was for the most part a lower level of competition than the IHSAA state meet, there were exceptions: like the kid who shattered the national Y record in the first 500 of the 1650. And then again at the 1000 mark. And of course, at the 1650 mark. As a freshman. I could have gone to Y Nationals in (I think) four events (2 relays, just to be clear), but I lacked the cash, and my dad lacked the inclination, and Y Nationals was, at the time, during finals week.

My secret was a combination of a technique that worked decently well for me, raw strength, lots of practice time spent in oxygen debt, and adrenaline. One guy came up to me at warmups for Y state and told me I warmed up too hard. For me, it was just hard enough to get me thinking speed.

And, for the record, I beat him.

Although, just to be honest, he was a much better swimmer than I all-around, as was just about everyone else at my level of competition. I was a one- (maybe two-)trick pony.

Also really master the turns. When I was in high school I gained huge amounts of time on the turns (though this becomes somewhat de-emphasized in the long course).

Sebastian, what were your events?

I did backstroke and fly (but only because I was the only person who could swim fly without getting disqualified). I went to diving right after that because when I tried to quit my 8 person high school team they said they needed me to fill events (mainly the fly for the relay) and I negotiated staying on the team by doing mostly diving. I then dove in college. I couldn't compete with the people who came over from gymnastics on the somersaulting dives though I was much better at the twisting dives (they had trouble retraining the twisting technique with around the head motion rather than over the shoulder motion). I was never amazingly good, I didn't discover my real sport (volleyball) until after I quit diving. I'm not naturally that athletic and swimming is a combination of athleticism and mental toughness. I analyze, but I'm not necessarily mentally tough enough. I made what I could from analyzing technique, but none of my natural talents worked well with swimming.

Volleyball is a good combination of technique, athleticism and mental game playing. I can master technique and analyze my opponents game so with medium-level natural athleticism plus the other two I can go much further. It turns out I'm a good tutor at volleyball because I've analyzed things so much. I've already helped three friends become better than me. :)

OY, I"M THE TOKEN BLOODY AUSSIE 'ERE, SO PUSH OFF:-) I remember, in the dim, dim past I repped for my school in district & Zone, in the 800 metres (just think yards as a metre is only 3 & 1/4 inches longer). I was 17 and there were only 4 of us competing. The other 3 were 15 y.o. and in training. Oy Vei! (Aussie for 'oh sh.."). I was a lap behind at the last and finished...last. Sigh. Stangely it is one of my proudest moments, by Gomme, I finished!

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