View Full Version : How can I stay in shape for swimming while working in the Egyptian desert? Help!

January 11th, 2007, 03:03 PM
Hi - I love reading the discussion forums, and have finally got up the nerve to join because I'm looking for suggestions on how to stay in shape when I can't swim.

I spend about three months of the year working on archaeological sites - while there I can't swim (no pool) or even walk or run, as apart from actual excavation we must stay in a small compound under military guard. I hate losing my conditioning for swimming while on these projects; not only do I desperately miss swimming while in the field, I hate coming back unable to keep up with my normal lane mates. But I haven't found anything good to do to maintain it. This year I thought about taking my jump rope - but then remembered that only the floors of the teeny shared bedrooms are solid, all the rest is sand. ANY desert "cross-training" suggestions at all would so appreciated.
Thanks in advance.

January 11th, 2007, 03:25 PM
Egypt the home of great marathon swimmers. Are you close to the Suez Canal, great swimming there.

Alexandria Harbour great swimming there.

Cairo great clubs there.

Do not swim in the Nile River.

January 11th, 2007, 03:32 PM
I feel bad for you. I wish I had more to offer than that.

I think at the very least you have to try to keep up some type of exercise program - maybe one that includes elastic bands that can keep your shoulders in good shape. Core training also comes to mind, but it sounds like you are missing the aerobic part of training more than anything.

January 11th, 2007, 03:34 PM
Alas no! No canals, harbors, or clubs. I'm working at the site of Abydos, which is in Upper Egypt, about six miles west of the Nile (so I can't even swim there! Ok - not that I'd want to, really.).

Peter Cruise
January 11th, 2007, 04:05 PM
I don't know what's wrong with the Nile; those nile crocodiles would like to help you improve your stroke rate...

January 11th, 2007, 04:55 PM

This may hurt your work, but you could try flooding your dig site and use that as a pool. For added breath control, you can do exploratory dives without oxygen tanks. :joker:

Seriously, though, there are a few yoga-type arm exercises you can do that are weight free and are crazy-effective. They work the muscles and joints pretty good, and there is no negative resistence. I wouldn't know where to look for them - perhaps someone else can weigh in.

Redskins running back TJ Duckett would run in sand as part of his training; strengthens legs and helps work on balance. Not exactly swim-related, but exercise nonetheless...

January 11th, 2007, 05:07 PM
I don't know what's wrong with the Nile; those nile crocodiles would like to help you improve your stroke rate...

Those crocs are hell on breaststrokers, though. Have you noticed their swimming undulation is more like that of a butterflyer.

January 11th, 2007, 05:08 PM
What great ideas! The elastic bands and the yoga - I can definitely do this - thank you!!! I may try running round the compound courtyard in the sand too - depending on how much fun is made of me - but I guess I could also look on it as providing valuable entertainment for the rest of the team.

January 11th, 2007, 05:47 PM
Have a look here when you open it go to post # 14 http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?p=65823&highlight=closet#post65823

I had wall pulleys in the closet which were made with window weights and pulley close line wheels so the pulleys came down from overhead and did my 1 and 2 hours a day on those, when I lived in the north with the nearest pool 2 hours away. It was sure nice to come out of the closet.

January 12th, 2007, 12:25 PM
Everybody thanks for the great ideas. I am really going to try hard to not lose any swimming-ground this time.

RE: Using crocodiles to improve stroke rate - my coach would laugh. His nickname for me is "Saving it up Sally" because when I really want to swim quickly, I'm super fast. But most of the time I guess some crucial motivation is missing (crocodiles?). We usually swim sprint sets, which I hate, towards the end of practice and it seems I swim them faster and faster. Probably to get them over with more quickly. He says, "if you can swim this hard now at the end of practice, tell me, what were you doing before? Apparently nothing! You're getting shorter intervals next time."

thanks to all,

January 12th, 2007, 02:03 PM
Jump roping is so good for you, and good cross training, is there any way u could make just like a small solid platform that you can place in the sand to jump on? Just something to think about?

March 5th, 2007, 01:52 PM
[quote=geochuck;74002]Egypt the home of great marathon swimmers. Are you close to the Suez Canal, great swimming there.

I would not advocate that. My family moved from Alexandria to Port-Said)
in 1958 (I was 15 back then). My father worked for the Suez Canal Authority and worked on one of the man-made islands in the harbour where they had some workshops.

One Summer day, I dived in (the Suez Canal) a little South of the ferry-point landing (if you know the area) and swam to that island (only a few hundred metres away). When I got there, I got the tongue-lashing of my life (not only from my father but from several of the technicians there). A great many sharks (God-knows how many species, several of them definitely dangerous) migrate yearly between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea and hang around harbours because of all the possibilities of offall.

In a different thread, I might relate my other "shark" story (it probably will be the "most embarrassing thing that happened to you" thread).


March 15th, 2007, 02:57 PM
Hi All,
I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who sent me suggestions on staying in swimming-shape while working in the desert. I jumped rope and did a kick-boxing dvd, and did pushups, etc. And it worked....for a few weeks. Then we started working from 6am to 9pm and I quit all the great rope jumping, etc., and started drinking giant 500ml beers instead. Now that I'm back I really miss Egypt, but I'm very happy to be swimming again. I'm out of shape, of course (and weigh more due to lack of swimming and abundance of beer), but I'm not nearly as out of shape as I'd be if I hadn't followed your suggestions for several weeks! Thanks a lot,

March 15th, 2007, 10:28 PM
Flotsam, hopefully you enjoyed your time there. If you did, then all the training, including working your beer arm, was all worth it in the end!! Welcome back! :drink:

Michael Heather
March 16th, 2007, 10:23 AM

In case you go back again, I have some more suggestions for you that have been tested by a former coach. They are numbingly dull, but can help keep your tone for a few months when no water is available.

Isometric training, while not as sexy as yoga or pilates, is very efficient in working the muscles you use in swimming. Working one set of muscles against another (or a stationary object) also has a benefit of balancing the muscle group strength.

A dedicated regimen of non competitive stretching will keep your flexibility.