View Full Version : The book gold in the water

December 30th, 2003, 10:13 PM
I remember P Mulins the author maybe I missed spelled his name talking about swimming being a white upper-middle class sport and the country club set. I guess he had not met Shirley Bashashoff that came from a blue collar background. Anyway, swimmers in elite circles tend to be more from upper-middle families than the non-elite. In high school programs, their are plenty of them from the barrio and the ghetto. Also, he seems to think swimming is divided between whites and blacks. In his state, both Latinos and Asians outnumber blacks. And Latinos are the group lowest on the income level in that state and Arizona mainly done to immirgation. I think the swimming world is seeing that in the states, its not a black and white world anymore,even in the south asians and latins have increase.

December 30th, 2003, 11:17 PM
The age group meets I have attended are 99% white. Asians are probably the highest minority, with a few blacks thrown in. I think part of it IS economic, year round club swimming is very, very expensive, part of it is cultural. I think the black athletes are drawn to other sports before swimming.

My kids' team has two families with black swimmers. That is 3 swimmers out of 100 swimmers. And one of the black swimmers is adopted into a white family, whose white siblings are on the team. I will say this, she is a darn good swimmer at 6, and I hope she continues.

The kids' summer club teams have more minorities, but still the ratio is widely white dominated. Summer club teams are inexpensive, so not economic there.

I went to girls HS sectionals to watch, again, very few minorities. I guess it depends what state and where in the state. I do go to a lot of meets in Chicago and Indy though and see the same ratios.

December 31st, 2003, 02:12 AM
I'm more of a reader than a poster on this forum, but I figured I'd toss in my two cents on this one (well not really on the topic but read on...) It seems that a lot of threads on this forum are hijacked (or started) to discuss race and socio-economic issues in swimming. I'm not sure this is really fair or relevant. If we are suppossed to be a more color-blind society, I don't think constantly drawing race/socio-economic lines in swimming is helping that. I know that USA-Swimming has made efforts to bring swimming to inner-cities and minorities but their attempts have not really changed a lot. So, I don't think dwelling on it in a forum and forcing it into every thread will change much either.

December 31st, 2003, 10:01 AM
I agree! You took the words right out of my mouth.

Tom Ellison
December 31st, 2003, 10:44 AM
Water is colorless….and so is every single swimmer I have ever swam with, against and around…because in the water…..we are neither White, Black, Hispanic, Asian or anything else….we are swimmers….

Phil Arcuni
December 31st, 2003, 01:06 PM
There is no doubt that competitive swimming is a middle/upper class sport, and probably a white sport as well. If you are satisfied with that, or think it doesn't matter, than go ahead and bury your head in the sand, but don't tell other people that are concerned about the sport to be quiet about it.

It is not racist to work at making this sport more inclusive, but it is racist to continue the demographic patterns that were established back in the days of segregated pools and the belief that blacks were too 'dense' to make good swimmers. I remember those days, and I am not that old.

This is a thread about swimming and it belongs here. If you don't like it, ask yourself why. If you are OK with your reasons, you don't have to read it.

Swimming should be a sport for the masses. If it isn't, it will continue to lose college programs and this country will eventually be a second rate swimming power. And Masters swimming will get less and less fun.

Swimming will only be popular if it becomes proactively inclusive and little black, latino, asian, and other minority children start to participate. USA Swimming is aware of this and making some appropriate steps. It is not an easy thing to do; I think it should be a higher priority.

December 31st, 2003, 02:09 PM
It is my belief that issues such as this should be discussed openly and kept in the forefront. Only through open discussion of the problems among the races will we ever come to understand each others' perspective. A greater understanding of minority issues will help USA Swimming break through the race barrier and truely make it open to everyone.

Bert Bergen
December 31st, 2003, 02:29 PM
Agree with Chris. Somebody accurately explain the gist of this thread; I can't find a purpose statement to it.

Phil Arcuni
December 31st, 2003, 04:19 PM
Bert, you make an arguable point, but it was not Chris' or Tom's point. Do you agree with them that race should be (is?) not relevant in swimming, and that it is too bad that there are threads discussing it, or do you believe that the post starting a thread should be clear and to the point? Or do you believe both?

As far as I am concerned, the subject of this thread is whether minority participation in swimming is an appropriate subject for this forum. What made it the subject? Because Chris brought it up and I wanted to make an issue of it. Thread subjects are pretty fluid things. Like all swimmers, we need to go with the flow.

December 31st, 2003, 05:33 PM
I was saying that it just isn't just black and white anymore. California and Arizona and Texas and New Mexico have huge latin populations. By 2040, LA is going to be 60 percent hispanic even if the immigation legal or illegal slowsdown from Mexico. Latins have done no better than blacks as far as elite swimmers are concern in the United States. He was focusing on the black issue because of the black breaststroker Norment could have swam in the the pan-pacific champonship on the relay. P Mulins did mention about the fact that half of Santa Clara youth is asian, What isn't brouht up in the book is the fact that the biggest minority group in California are latins,mainly Mexicans are almost not mention in the book at all. He did mention PabloMorales, a latin who was Cubian and he didn't think that what Pablo did was as significant as Anthony Ervin. As far as asians maybe physical size rather than participated is the problem. Granted, their are top asians from China and Japan but are fewer of them in the states. Also, in figure skating California has top lady figure skaters like Michelle Kwan and that sports cost thousands of dollars more than swimming. But you can be under 6 foot in that sport and be at the top unlike swimming where more of the top swimmers are over 6 feet.

December 31st, 2003, 05:41 PM
Well, it does depend upon the state as far as high school. In Tucson there are high schools where the majority are Latins, mainly Mexicans. So, the swimmers are going be be Mexican at these schools. The same goes for my old high school in California, now only about 7 percent white now. There are also a lot of asians there too,so the kids swimming are going to be minority more than most places.

December 31st, 2003, 09:03 PM
I've read a lot of silly posts but Phil's takes the cake. If we don't make swimming for the masses we will become second rate? This is absurd. The USA is the #1 power worldwide in swimming and has cemented that position in the past 30 years. As a matter of fact, the US is the #1 power or competes for #1 in just about every major sport right now, and if we aren't, we are knocking on the door, save curling, the oddest sport of all.

Swimming doesn't have to be for the masses. Sure, it's a nice little populist thought but no sport has to be for the masses for it to succeed. I continue to be baffled by this notion that we have to take every sport to every corner of America to legitimize it. Then, the do-gooders go a step further by injecting some race element, subtly insinuating that those of us who do swim are de-facto racists. Give me a BREAK. Swimming is wildly successful in America and our programs nationwide bear that out. Have you been to a local pool in the summer on an afternoon?

Take this race baiting to another forum. Leave this forum for legitimate discussions on swimming - it's intended purpose.

December 31st, 2003, 09:11 PM
Yes, I spent all summer at a local pool--white, white, white.
Local swim team--white, white, white
Local school system 70% African American 30% WASP

The issue of why more minorities do not participate needs to be addressed.

Phil Arcuni
December 31st, 2003, 10:29 PM
American swimming is strong primarily because of our strong college program. We are steadily losing college teams for various reasons, but if swimming were more popular these reasons would not be good enough. Good college programs allow swimmers to swim in the prime of their life, when otherwise they would be studying somewhere with no swimming, or working. It is not clear that our club system can replace our college system.

American swimming was strong 40 years ago because few other countries had swimmers at all. Now many other countries have large swimming programs, and my impression is that things are more competitive than ever. I doubt that the U.S. is more dominant now than it was then. We certainly underperform relative to our population and wealth, when compared to countries like Australia, Netherlands, or Sweden.

If you want the best athletes swimming, you need to have large participation at all levels from all groups.

If you are comfortable with limited participation you will also have to be comfortable with reduced international performance.

If you comfortable with limited participation, you will also have to be comfortable with fewer adults taking advantage of one of the best exercises around.

Finally, pointing out that this sport is "white, white, white" is not race baiting, it is pointing out the obvious. Why do people ignore or deny what is in front of their face? I can't imagine what I could have said that was race baiting (silly is another matter . . ), but the subject was certainly swimming. Finally, aquageek reads far more into my posts than is there. I swim myself, as he well knows, and I don't consider myself, subtly or otherwise, a racist.

(and we are still pretty weak in the #1 world sport, men's soccer.)

December 31st, 2003, 11:25 PM
Well, I agree that swimming being more popular in Irvine than East Los Angeles is ok. But the biggest concern is that the white kid population in a state like California is going to go down to 25 percent of the average in 20 years if current trends don't change. Maybe, swimming youth programs will survive by fielding uppper-middle class or middle class whites, some asians and hispanics. Who knows with demographic changes of that sort. Now as far as club involvement developing swimmers, in my youth the clubs develop the female swimmers, the college programs were just starting to get near the male level. Female swimmers have to be developed by a club program because they mature 2 to 3 years earlier than male swimmers. The college system is more responisble for the development of men since they are about 2 to 3 years behind the females.

January 1st, 2004, 06:54 AM
Phil - again, I believe you are off base. American swimming isn't strong because of college. Most kids start swimming at age 4-6 and college is the culmination, not the beginning. Many of our best female swimmers are actually pre college years and Michael Phelps is a prime example of a male athlete excelling before college.

Swimming starts at the youth level and goes from there. Kids don't get good in college, they are already superior by the time they get the shcolarship.

How can you claim we underperform compared to your size and wealth? We compete and win in almost every major sport. If size was all that mattered, then China would win everything. If wealth was all that mattered, Saudi Arabia would win it all. Quoting a sinlge country in a single sport is a poor analogy. Sure, the Australians are good swimmers, but they stink at most other sports (save Volleyball). The Netherlands? What else do they even play?

No one really cares how we swam 40 years ago. America rules in the pool now. There is zippo evidence that forcing swimming on the less fortunate has made any difference. Maybe we should build pools in rural Iowa so our farming brethren can excel at that as opposed to football.

Sam Perry
January 1st, 2004, 08:53 AM
The race issue is one we can discuss for years if we want. When it comes down to getting the best athletes to swim race has nothing to do with it. It is about money. If I am an inner city kid (regardless of race) with no money what sport do you think I want to try to excel in? Swimming? It is obvious when I see so much money and glory being thrown to football/basketball/baseball that if I want to succeed financially, I play one of those.

Australia is the perfect example. One of the main reasons they have such a succesful program with such a small athlete base is that swimming is popular there and you can make a pretty good living there in endorsements, etc. Look at Phelps and his $1,000,000 offer. He has to equal Mark Spitz's incredible feat (and I hope he does) to get the bonus. Imagine what the same caliber athlete in almost any other sport (those mentioned above as well as golf, tennis, track, etc) would make with that accomplishment.

If we want to get the best athletes, we need to make swimming more popular to the general public. Until that occurs expect the best athletes for the most part to choose other sports as well as many more college programs will continue to bite the dust.

I do think the marketing of Phelps this Olympic year might make an impact. Watch and see how they sell him. My expectation is that he will be perceived as just your average kid who listens to his MP3 player likes Hip-Hop/Alternative music and they appeal to the mid teen audience with him. His success and age as well as his personality is just what this sport needs to reach the broader demographic of non-swimmers in their early to mid teens.

I also think the Race Club that Hall is working hard on is trying to bring swimming to the masses with high spped exciting racing atmosphere. Whether or not it works is a whole other issue.

January 1st, 2004, 11:09 AM
Just interested in the following quote from an earlier post:

"Sure, the Australians are good swimmers, but they stink at most other sports (save Volleyball)."

Interesting then that in recent years, Australia have competed at top level in swimming, rugby, cricket, athletics, cycling, rowing, diving, field hockey .... and presumably volleyball.

all this, from a population of fewer than 20 million!!!!!

- and the population of North America is???

All things considered, for a relatively 'small' nation, they don't appear to be doing that badly.

Just a thought....

January 1st, 2004, 12:20 PM
Sam hits on a good point, money, and add to that noteriety.

I open the sports page of the local paper. First is the years top ten, which is mostly football and basketball dominated. The tennis team at the U of I got mentioned(they only won NCAA). A sprinter got mentioned(she only won gold at Worlds and turned pro), but U of I's pitiful football team was 2 or 3, U of I's losing its basketball coach, number one.

Then you turn the page, and you see collage football, bowl games, and the next page is prep basketball. On any given day, there are at least two pages devoted to prep basketball or football, and usually if there is a HS swim meet, it gets a small paragragh buried in other sports.

Also, the YMCA programs for basketball and football are fairly inexpensive and also offer scholarships. So if I am a black mother in government subsidized housing trying to keep my kids out of trouble and in school, I am going to use programs like the ones offered by school, park district and the Y rather than the $90-110 per month price tag for swimming on a club team.

And the club teams trying to offer scholarships?, They are barely keeping afloat with the cost of pool-time and coaching, they cannot afford to give scholarships.

January 1st, 2004, 01:24 PM
Cricket? Rugby? Field hockey? Why not include basket weaving as a major sport?

Cycling - dominated by US and Europe. Watched the Tour de France in the past decade?

Baseball - same

Basketball - same, although many other countries making great strides

Track and field - same but only since East Germany went out of business in the field events.

Gymnastics - same

January 1st, 2004, 01:40 PM
I agree with Sam and Dorthy. That observation is consistent with what we know about swimming being a middle/upper class sport.

My granddaughter's swim team offers scholarships to any swimmer who maintains an A/B average (killing two birds with one stone, more or less increasing the chance that a swimmer will get an athletic scholarship when they enter college).

Okay, if part of the problem is money, could USMS start a scholarship fund for members to donate to on a volunteer basis; and/or local clubs could have a scholarship event or two during regular swim meets where the fee for swimming in the event would go to the fund?

January 1st, 2004, 03:35 PM
Why do we have to put everyone in a group? ie WASP, African-American, Oriental. I would prefer to think of each person as an individual. I think as a society we'd be alot better off. :confused:

January 1st, 2004, 03:36 PM
My thoughts on scholarships. Paying for club fees are just part of the costs. The club fees are probably only 1/3 to 1/2 of what I pay for swimming. There are also meet fees, 2.50-3.50 per event, swim a 3 day meet with 2 kids, you do the math. Do one of those meets a month, you are talking 300.00 in a season meet fees. In Central Illinois, we have to travel for meets, USA, Masters, no meets close. That means hotels and having a reliable car to get you there. A 3 day meet weekend in Chicago or Indy costs me anywhere from 200-400. The 200 is if I cart my microwave along, pack a bunch of meals in coolers, and eat in my room. Something I have done for JOs. There are admission fees, heat sheet fees at the meets that cost upwards to 30-50 dollars a meet.

My kids have not even got to the elite level. Sectionals last summer probably would have cost around 1000.00 to travel, y-nats if my son ever makes it will cost around 3000.00.

Also, going to all these meets takes time away from work. If you are working a job that you get paid if your there, not paid if your not, then you are not going to meets.

Yes, you can keep the cost down by doing small local meets, but if you want to bring your kids up to a level that colleges would be looking at them, you have to fork over the bucks and go to the meets.

January 1st, 2004, 03:45 PM
Everyone is an individual, but there are groups out there that have things in common. These groups are under represented in our sport. If we want to reach those groups then we need to understand how we are failing now.

January 1st, 2004, 04:10 PM
Every 6 months the YMCA offers "Splash Week". This is a week of swim lessons, for 5.00. It's objective is to get kids into the Y learning water safety that normally cannot afford lessons. It keeps its costs down by using volunteers. Having been one of those volunteers I observed several things.

The split of white/black is about 50/50 and the ability and eagerness is equal. All these kids want to learn to swim, and have a good time.

Last spring I had one 11 year old black girl who watched my 10 year old zip around, found out she was on swim team and really showed a strong desire to be on swim team. She worked really hard in those 5 days, and for the short amount of time, really showed improvement. She asked for the number of the swim team office, and I gave her the name and number to contact knowing sadly that I probably would not see her. Why, because she also told me she played basketball and at 11 was already about 5-5 and very athletic. I am fairly certain she is playing basketball and enjoying it. It is an activity her family will be able to get her to easily as it usually practice right after school. No driving clear across town to get to the pool in the evening.

Swimming takes a tremendous amount of parental support. I am not saying that these kids don't have support, but if the parents are struggling to make ends meet, it is even harder to get the time to get their kids where they need to be.

That said, isn't there an inner city team in NYC that is succeeding with this? I thought I read an article a few years ago in Swimming World about this team.

January 1st, 2004, 05:37 PM
Originally posted by laineybug
Everyone is an individual, but there are groups out there that have things in common. These groups are under represented in our sport. If we want to reach those groups then we need to understand how we are failing now.

Maybe certain groups also have sports preferences.
Are they under-represented in certain sports because there is no access to facilities, or are they under represented because of the "image" that sport has within the demographics.

Also, getting good at some sports (like football) has a potential of a huge payoff. Payoff in swimming is... well, not the same as in football or basketball, to say the least.
Building more pools in certain areas is not always likely to get more people, or kids to swim. The image that particular sport has within the familial, social, cultural and economic undercurrents of a specific demographics is what will make it popular or not popular. That old..."You can lead a horse to the water, but you can't make it... swim"

If you want more people swimming in the elites, and in general, find a way to make it into a more of a spectator sport, and you'll have all the money you want, on all levels.

In the meantime, it's going to remain the 'upper class-as you guys are calling it' athletic sport for those who can afford to participate in it.

In my case, having come from a different country and culture ... Croatia-Mediterranean, there was a very different image to swimming. Had almost nothing to do with the economic element.
For a very small country (5 mil), Croatia has enjoyed a decent success in swimming and waterpolo at the elite levels.
I'd venture a guess, that much like in australia, the ratio of the length of the coast to the population had a little something to do with the country's ability to produce the elite.
It's when you don't have the natural resources that you need to pour extra money into the facilities.
So, I can see it much more costly to produce elite swimmers out of a land-locked, cool weather place like Minesota or Wyoming, then it would be on a mediterranean coast.

I'd expect people from minesota to excell in sports that are more incidental to the natural resources available to them.

As for Ausatralia, it is my understanding that most of the country's population is concentrated in coastal areas, so... no big surprize that they crank out good swimmers.

January 1st, 2004, 11:18 PM
Sam Perry as well as I knows that Arizona has a lot more hispanics than blacks. How many Mexican kids from the barrio aim to be Basketball players or football players. Baseball players they are more likely to aim at. Blacks make up only 4 percent of our state population. So, in our state its what poor whites which Arizona has more than California does and hispanics want to go into to make money with the sports than either blacks or asians.

January 2nd, 2004, 12:07 AM
Costial areas have nothing to do with swimming success. And the state of Minnesota produced Tom Malchow. At one time the unversity of Indiana was the college powerhouse in swimming back in the 1960's and 1970's. Actually, the state of Arizona landlock produce more medal winners that Vermont or Maine or any New England state in the last olympics. Wyoming has a weak program not because its landlock but because it has a small population. Pools are expensive to built and they are built usually in large urban areas. As for Croatia, its hasn't done that good in swimming. Russia and Urkaine and Hungray are the top medal swimmers from Eastern Europe. And Hungray is pretty landlocked. The first medal swimmer in 1896 was from Hungray.

January 2nd, 2004, 12:44 AM
I think that Aquageek has one good idea. States that are small in population but then to be more in the middle of the income bracket like Iowa may be apart of the future of swimming. Why we don't invest in pools in Iowa or Maine where Ian Crocker came from I don't know. Maybe, the develop of more portable pools would help the rural states be able to have more pools available.

January 2nd, 2004, 01:27 AM
Sorry, Sam Perry if I sounded rude on the subject. Well I for one would like to drop the subject. We all have different ideas and its not going to be solved overnite.

January 2nd, 2004, 02:20 AM
Sorry, Connie about talking too much about immirgation and race. Its not going to change things.

January 2nd, 2004, 05:38 AM
"Cricket? Rugby? Field hockey? Why not include basket weaving as a major sport?"

Cricket, rugby and field hockey have a history stretching back hundreds of years. They each require athleticism and skill. Just because they don't happen to fit one individual's definition of sport ... is not the point I was making.

Someone once said that sarcasm (i.e. "basket weaving"!!!) is the lowest form of wit.

January 2nd, 2004, 08:31 AM
Doesn't the UK Masters group have their own discussion forums where serious sports like cricket (men in funky white suits drinking beer) and field hockey can be discussed?

As to the lowest form of wit being sarcasm, THANKS, I'll take that as a true compliment from a friend overseas.

Tom Ellison
January 2nd, 2004, 09:58 AM
I humbly apologize for not being clearer in my above post. I believe you understood part of my post but missed the part I did not mention.
You are 100 % correct in your understanding that I see swimming as “colorless”. I always have and I always will.
You are incorrect in your assumption that I think or advocate posts such as this be taken elsewhere. Again, I apologize for not being clearer in that thought process. I believe this is an excellent forum to discuss controversial topics that impact us personally and as a sport. Having said that, it is NOT my call what is posted or not posted within this forum.
Many times I have posted my thoughts and feelings on numerous diverse and wide ranging topics discussed (within this forum). Dialog is healthy, it is enlightening, it is educational, it is often healing, and above all it is our right as free Americans to discuss topics that impact our lives. “General discussions” means just that, wide ranging-broad-universal.
United States Masters Swimming is a close knit body of swimmers from all walks of life and we are “one” in that sports body, but we are unique and different in many other ways. I for one, fully support discussions such as this and I support them in this forum.
Lastly, I may not agree with some of the posts, but I darn sure would fight for the right to respectfully post what we ALL think and believe.

January 2nd, 2004, 12:08 PM
This is certainly an interesting thread, and not without controversy. Any issues of race and socio-economic disparity will undoubtedly bring about some sensitivities. But there's a hard cold reality that swimming is indeed a sport that not only requires water as the main ingredient, but financing as well.

Some communities may not have the resources to even consider building a pool. It's a lot easier to lay down some pavement for a basketball or tennis court. And if a pool is available to the general public, it doesn't mean that they will come. Not everyone has the money to fork over for a year round membership. It's a sad truth in this great country that many families struggle just to get by. That reason alone may prohibit youngsters from showing up at an early age irregardless of racial backgrounds. By the time kids get into high school, they may have no interest in joining their swim team for their mere lack of experience in the sport.

I would like to think that it's not so much a matter of race, as it is a matter of having access to a facility. YMCA's are abundant across this country, and there's no reason that kids from all ages and backgrounds can't find some pool time. Perhaps this sport is too young to make a comment that it's made up of a more white middle-to-upper class part of the population. Maybe there just haven't been enough swimming pools built to ensure that everyone gets their "feet wet" so to speak.

It's interesting to note as someone pointed out, that sports minded kids these days have dreams of making big cake. Professional baseball, basketball, and football offer a much greater allure because of the insane amounts of money that these athletes take home. Maybe that's why the "underpriviledged" inner city kid is shooting hoops or working on their curve ball. Could swimming be on par with cricket???? Let's hope not.

January 2nd, 2004, 02:07 PM
I live in a small town with a very nice YMCA. The facility is centrally located and within five minutes of just about everyone in town. There is a six lane 25 yard indoor pool and a year round swim team. The local high school team works out at the same time and shares coaching. What I've noticed is that the youth basketball league is full (I think they had to turn some kids away this year) whereas the swim team is very small. And of course swim lessons are offered for all ages, all levels of ability. My point is that most of the kids would rather play basketball than invest the amount of time and effort required to participate and excel in swimming. In this particular case, for what it's worth, race and/or socioeconomic status do not seem to influence access to swimming as a sport. Obviously role models (or lack thereof) and the perceived monetary gain (or lack thereof) could be factors in choosing basketball over swimming. Or maybe basketball just seems like more fun.

Tom Ellison
January 2nd, 2004, 02:41 PM
Craig, you make an excellent point. Let’s face it, swimmers are a seriously different bunch. It takes a completely different mind set to grind out lap after lap after lap…alone, by yourself, with no interaction with anyone until you reach the end of a set. I remember a kid when I first started to swim back in 1958 or 1959 telling me he did not like the silence. He said it was boring to swim lap after lap and never have the opportunity to talk to anyone. Soon after he made that statement, his swim team experience came to an end. The solitary nature of our sport is not for everyone.
Swimmers are different….Am not, are so, am not, are so……

January 2nd, 2004, 02:53 PM
Lack of facilities is a big deal. It is easy to find a basketball court or field to play football or soccer.

My kids' team practices outdoors in a 50 meter park district pool in the summer. This pool is 40 years old and failing. The park district is in the process of planning a new facility. This new facility in all likelyhood will not include a 50 meter pool. They are planning a water park, with slides and lazy river. That is where the money is. There will be a small 6 or 8 lane 25 yard lap pool, but gone will be the opportunity to train long course.

I do think that once they try to put the programs they had in the long course pool into the short course pool(lessons, aerobics, swimteam practice, lap swimming) they will find that they cannot fit it all, and things will get cut.

Water parks, the way of the world these days.

January 2nd, 2004, 11:31 PM
So, where is the funding for building, maintaining and magaging and coaching a team gsupposed to come from?
Especially in the areas where the interest or economical power is low?

January 3rd, 2004, 10:45 AM
Originally posted by Tom Ellison
It takes a completely different mind set to grind out lap after lap after lap…alone, by yourself, with no interaction with anyone until you reach the end of a set.

Swimmers are different….Am not, are so, am not, are so……

Tom, I hope that last "discussion" isn't going through your head during the longer swims. :cool: (Just ignore those nice gentlemen with the oversized butterfly nets...)

I'm not in good enough shape to do it now, but I used to be able to go on auto-pilot for any swims over 100. Very enjoyable to be able to "meditate" several times a week.

Tom Ellison
January 7th, 2004, 11:18 AM
Mark Mattson:
Actually, I used to sing the Barney Song while swimming the mile.

Due to my artificial right hip and my inability to explode off the blocks in order to be competitive in sprint events, I am a distance swimmer. Being forced to swim distance events puts me in a rather interesting place with respect to my mind set...(does not, does to, does not, does to....).

Swimming the mile and long off shore events were some of the times I felt closest to God. In that I mean, I viewed them as a religious experience. For me, I found myself dealing with the grind parts of the swim and my ability to deal with the tremendous amounts of discomfort associated with pushing myself right up to the very edge of my human conditioning. Strange as it may sound, when I swam the mile or long off shore races I had the mind set that this could be my last event or action on this earth. I became stoic and quiet before races and attempted to deal with my inner thoughts of who I am and what I am here for. Without exception I always said my Prayers before these events and asked forgiveness for any transgressions I had committed in my life because I was uncomfortable with the possible outcome of pushing myself to the very edge. But, I knew the very edge was the point where I was about to go…..

Once the race began I set my pace and pushed myself to the point where I was in the middle of that zone where discomfort lurked. I kept my mind in my race by thinking about my stroke length, breathing ALL my air out on the exhale part of my breathing and streamlining off the walls. I attempted to be a disciplined swimmer by paying attention to the things that impact my race. Yet, I always had this deep inner feeling of peace. Almost without exception, I was totally spent at the end of these events. I had nothing left and regardless of my time, I felt a sense of pride that I had come face to face with something that…well, quite frankly, scared the heck out of me, but I did it anyway.

Although I have a rather off the wall sense of humor and pride myself in being able to find humor in the most mundane things in life, I always swam the mile or long off shore events with a serious mind set. Ok, I admit it, I am a bit strange and somewhat bent in my thinking …Am not, am to, am not, am to, not, to, not, to….