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  1. Oct. 1

    by , October 6th, 2008 at 06:08 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    80 minutes at the gym in the morning doing lights weights, core and RC work.

    Afternoon swim:

    I modified one of SwimStud's fav ladder sets to include more kicking and drills:

    600 warm up
    200 drill
    Main set = 3 x (200 kick, 200 swim, 2 x 100, 4 x 50, 8 x 25, 50 EZ). I did it like this:

    #1

    200 dolphin kick on back with MF on 3:00 (went 2:20)
    200 free smooth on 3:00
    2 x 100 dolphin kick with MF with board on 1:30 (went 1:05ish)
    4 x 50 single arm fly drill with MF on 1:00
    8 x 25 fast flutter kick with board (ouch!)
    50 EZ

    #2

    200 dolphin kick on back with MF on 3:00 (went 2:20)
    200 free smooth on 3:00
    2 x 100 single arm fly drill on 1:45
    4 x 50 IM order (fly-back, back-breast, breast-free, free-fly) on 1:00
    8 x 25 fast flutter kick with board (ouch!)
    50 EZ

    #3

    200 dolphin kick on back with MF on 3:00 (went 2:20ish)
    200 free smooth on 3:00
    2 x 100 kick with board and MF on 1:30 (went 1:05ish)
    4 x 50 roll backstroke drill on :50
    8 x 25, alternate EZ and AFAP free
    50 EZ

    200 C/D

    Total: 4100

    Updated October 7th, 2008 at 03:35 PM by The Fortress

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  2. Fly Day

    by , October 10th, 2008 at 03:40 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    I'm pretty sore and tired from training. I haven't had a day off since Sept. 26. Usually I take Saturdays off, but last weekend, a beautiful fall day and the lure of the running trail beguiled me. Really looking forward to taking tomorrow off! And I almost never say that. lol

    Today was my scheduled day for doing a fly set to help my 100 fly. I'm trying to take the advice given in the "Training for the 100 Fly" thread. Was deciding between sets given to me by Cream Puff, Jeff Roddin and Greg Shaw. Decided to do Greg Shaw's 10 x 75 fly set. As you can see below, I gave myself a generous interval (as he suggested) to hold form. I used fins because there is no way I can swim that much fly without them without shoulder pain. I did this set in September, but had to alternate fly and one arm fly drill. This time, I did it all fly.

    600 warm up
    200 fly drills
    4 x 25 build

    10 x 75 fly on 2:00 with fins (held 49-50)
    (probably should have done a 25 easy after each 75 rather than hanging on the wall)

    200 EZ

    3 x (5 x 50) on 1:00:

    #1 backstroke:
    1-3 descend
    4, AFAP with fins (27-28)
    5, EZ DAB
    #2 backstroke kick:
    1-3 descend
    4, AFAP with fins (27-28)
    5, EZ DAB
    #3 backstroke:
    1-3 DPS
    4, AFAP with fins (27)
    5, EZ DAB
    100 easy

    Total: 2700

    Updated October 10th, 2008 at 05:40 PM by The Fortress

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  3. So, am I a Coach???

    by , November 7th, 2008 at 05:21 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    Question: Am I A Coach?

    This may be a dumb question, but it is something that has been in the back of my mind for quite some time.

    I posted this in coaches forum and we see what the real coaches think.....

    Primarily, I swim and train myself. I get up at 4:45am and I am in the water from 6:00am to 7:00am M-F and from 7:00am-9:00am on Saturday. Sometimes, friends will join me for sets and we trade calling sets.

    Some of my self coaching activities:
    I write my own workouts
    Keep a training log
    Keep a performance log
    Read all I can about the sport and have a modest library
    Purchased and studied Reese and Marsh's instructional DVDs
    And I've read extensively about anatomy, exercise physiology and kinesiology (biology undergrad; engineering Ph.D).
    I've purchased a Flip Video Camera with the underwater housing so I can video tape my stroke below the water (with the help of a friend).
    And I have library of video recordings of race competitions.

    I use the information to plan my swim season and to correct certain stroke and race faults. I believe that you have to concentrate on controling gross motor movements so that you can correct flaws during practice. I have a list of cards that remind me of the things that I need to fix based on watch my video taped performances. Before these gross motor movements can become automatic, they have to be burned into the proprioceptive memory (muscle memory).


    I plan to conduct a simple velocity analysis on some of my video recordings of my race to find areas for improvement.

    I love competing and have had some success at the national and world masters level - which why swimming has become my adult avocation.

    So, can I call myself a coach?

    BTW, I spent several summers coaching and served as a volunteer assistant coach for my college - back in the ancient days of mens college swimming.
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  4. Polar Bear Preview

    by , December 20th, 2008 at 11:37 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Five days before Christmas, and many of us here in the Northeastern United States find our wistful thoughts turning to open water swimming season.

    This begins, of course, with the annual Sea Isle City Polar Bear Swim in February.

    Here is footage from last year's pilgrimage to the frozen Jersey shore, with some bonus scenes towards the end of girl on girl scissoring, a great way to limber up for any kind of swimming performance, I must say.

    Apologies to those of you who have already seen this. I hope soon to be posting new video. For now, I hope this helps inspire my subscribers to sign up for a polar bear dip themselves.

    the PG rated musical version:
    BORKED

    the scrofulous version with girl on girl scissoring bonus scenes:
    BORKED

    Updated December 29th, 2008 at 12:03 PM by jim thornton

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  5. Aqua V cap sizing difficulties

    by , December 21st, 2008 at 12:53 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I am looking into getting a slightly better video system than the kind i have now, which, I must say, works well with Skype but not quite so well with YouTube. In any event, if you can endure a certain dyssynchrony of image and voice, which actually reflects the way I am feeling today with my splitting Nyquil hangover, I invite you to watch today's vlog.

    PS I once read that Mr. Rogers made his show purposely slowed down and laconic because he felt that kids in this hyper stressed world of ours never got a chance to just watch something soothing and langorously monotone and, well, . It is in this spirit that I present today's video.

    BORKED

    PS Word of the Day: laconic. I thought I knew what this word meant, but it turns out I was completely wrong. To wit:

    A "laconic phrase" is a very concise or terse statement, named after Laconia (a.k.a. Lacedaemon [Greek Λακεδαίμων]), a polis of ancient Greece (and region of modern Greece) surrounding the city of Sparta proper. In common usage, Sparta referred both to Lacedaemon and Sparta. ...

    I don't always "fact check" what I write, so please use this as a cautionary example of why you should never take what I recommend seriously without at leave three second opinions from actually knowledgable sources.

    Updated December 29th, 2008 at 11:59 AM by jim thornton

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  6. Travesty of travesties: all is travesty

    by , December 22nd, 2008 at 11:57 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Today's vlog will be best understood by those who take a moment to read Leslie The Fortress Livingston's fascinating blog account of bureaucratic machiavellianism run amuk.

    I would have loved to hire Al Pacino to play me in today's film. Only Al could give the full apoplectic spittle-flying frenzy "You're out of order! You're out of order"/"I oughta take a flamethrower to this whole f-ingplace!"/"Say hello to my leedle fren!" style outrage that this situation deserves.

    Unfortunately, Al was working on another project, so I had to play Jim myself, which is never ideal.

    BORKED

    If, by the way, you have not yet seen Leslie's fourth-45-49-year-old-woman-in-world-history-to-crack-30.00-in-the-50-SCM-fly performance, you can see it by clicking the link atop my vlog.

    * * *

    On a more stereotypically swimming-oriented blog note, my good friend and swimming coach Bill White sent out tonight's practice, which consists of a warm up (6 x 100 on 1:20) followed by a 1650 RACE.

    I replied to him by email:

    Bill, correct my math if you see errors:

    You will average about a 1:10-1:20 pace, which means that your 50s will be 35-40 seconds each.

    Every time you lap me, it will mean I need to add an additional 35-40 seconds onto whatever time you end up doing.

    Thus if you lap me only four times, or every 412.5 yards, this would mean I will need to add between 2 minutes and 10 seconds to 2 minutes and 30 seconds to your final time.

    I am expecting you to break 20 minutes as if it were child's play. But let us just use the 20 minute mark for simplicity's sake. I should be able to finish in 22:10.00 to 22:30.00, correct?

    Using the Bill Time Distance calculator from yesteryear, this would leave me with an average 100 pace of between 1:20.61 and 1:21.82.

    If you, on the other hand, hold a 1:10 or 1:15 pace, you will swim it in 19:15 or 20:37.50 respectively.

    ***

    I will let you know how it goes.

    Updated December 29th, 2008 at 11:56 AM by jim thornton

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  7. Food psychology and winter weight gain

    by , December 23rd, 2008 at 11:10 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    For those who don't want to read my blather, here's today's movie, which actually has some production values thanks to my wonderful son Jack, who produced this for the Men's Health video channel!

    BORKED

    Now, the blather:

    Yesterday's practice, it turns out, was different than I thought because I misread the date. We actually do the 1650 "race" on Friday. Yesterday, we did instead:

    10 x 100 on 1:25 warm up
    20 x 50 on :40
    10 x 50 on :35
    10 x 50 on :40
    6 x 50 on :35
    7 x 100 on 1:25 cool down
    steam bath

    This was not easy, in fact, I still feel like there is food tickling my epiglottis, trying to escape.

    Anyhoo, it got me to thinking that before Friday's 1650 in-practice race, it would really help if I could lose a smidgen of the winter weight gain that has crept up. Today is Tuesday 10:30 a.m.. Goal: 17 lb. weight loss by Friday 6:30 p.m.

    Tip: break this down into manageable units. To wit, if I can just lose .21 lb. per hour between now and then, I will achieve my goal.

    Today's vlog is a video I made for Men's Health with the considerable help of my son Jack. It was based on an article on Food Psychology I wrote a year or two back. If any of you would like to read the article itself, feel free to send me your email and I will dispatch a copy of this in .pdf form.

    My email address is Jamesthornton1@comcast.net

    Please also send me a jpg file of you in a swimming suit for my "calendar" project, which may end up being a movie instead.

    Thanks.

    Here is that link again!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Srncg...e=channel_page

    Updated December 29th, 2008 at 11:49 AM by jim thornton

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  8. Relaxation: My present to fellow swimmers

    by , December 24th, 2008 at 02:12 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Merry Christmas and assorted other secular, religious, and Druid holidays to one and all. I am hoping to get a better camera soon, so please do not give up too soon on my Vlog simply because of its piss poor production values and generally uninteresting subject matter to date!

    Improvement is possible!

    Who knows what the next year will bring?

    In any event, today's Vlog represents my Christmas present to my fellow swimmers. If you watch this, and I hope you do, I know it will be easy to dismiss the recommendation therein as the groggy advice of a narcoleptic well into his dotage.

    Resist this urge!

    Please, allot yourself 8 minutes at the end of your next practice to try out my recommendation, which blends the best of swimming, with the best of Karmic meditative Bhuddhism as such is understood by me, a fellow with no understanding of it.

    Then let me know if you do, indeed, find this to be as deeply relaxing as I and my follower have. (Note: one my New Year's Resolution is to up the number of follower to plural. My other New Year's Resolution is to not lose the follower I do have.)

    BORKED

    Updated December 27th, 2008 at 06:39 PM by matysekj (Embedded YouTube video directly)

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  9. Open Water Season A' Comin'

    by , December 29th, 2008 at 12:25 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    It has been a couple days since last I vlogged. Thanks to Jim Matysek's suggestions, I now know sort of how to make preview stills of my vlogs appear on the vlog site proper, and I suspect you will find this as exciting as I do, which is to say multiple exclamation points exciting!!!!!!!!

    For regular posters on the threads, I did one version of the photo calendar montage set to music, but was unable to upload this, and thus am redoing it. I can no longer call it a USMS calendar. The main reasons here are A) USMS is a registered trademark upon which the likes of me, like the rattlesnake on some currency, have been advised "not to tread", and B) it is no longer a calendar.

    Stay tuned for what it is, though I am not quite sure myself yet what this is.

    I also plan to post a new vlog soon that might up viewership slightly by adding a visually stimulating guest to the site. But the time for this has not yet come.

    These are just two of the many reasons to stay tuned!

    In the meantime, I do not want my 3 or 4 regular vlog viewers to forget who I am. Thus I am now presenting another film on open water swimming to whet your appetite for the cold wet season to come!

    A short explanatory preamble: last September, I traveled with my friends Jocelyn Smith (one of the comely scissorers in Captain's Plunge, the scroffulous version) and Jeremy Cornman (a former Sea Isle City lifeguard and extraordinarily talented amateur triathlete who I can nevertheless beat at distance swimming) to the Jersey Shore. We were supposed to do an open water event at Cape May, but we got there at midnight, and registration was a 6 a.m., and we decided to sleep instead of paying the $30 to freeze.

    The next day, I decided to create my own open water swimming event in Ocean City. It was the day before the 56th Birthday of me and my twin brother John. The event, which is now going to be held on an annual basis, is knows at the Pre-Birthday Open Rough Water Shark and Snapper Blue 2-Mile Swim.

    If you would like to pre-register for next year, send me $29.00 and I will have my lawyer draw up an ironclad waiver form for you to sign and notarize. This will include, but not be limited by, the truncation of assorted appendages and other body parts by razor sharp, recursive teeth.

    On this note, I present for your viewing pleasure: Sunk.


    BORKED
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  10. Wet Beauty

    by , December 31st, 2008 at 09:38 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Here is a vlogging gift to my fellow swimmers, and an homage to 2008--a year the likes of which only our centenarian comrades have likely seen before.

    I tried to include pictures sent by the generous posting community on the forums, plus I shamelessly pilfered the photo albums of my swimming friends on Facebook. You may notice a disproportion of pictures of me and Dara Torres. I used the former for filler and the latter (which I took last January when I swam with and interviewed her for a story--pdf available on request!) as inspiration for all of us to keep striving regardless of our respective stages on the aging curve.

    Over the course of 2009, please feel free to email me swimming photos, which I will save and use to compile another assemblage. Email address: JamesThornton1@comcast.net

    Better yet, consider joining Facebook, which now has tons of our swimming comrades amongst our ranks. It's free and simple. Befriend me at James Scott Thornton (Pittsburgh) and I will refer all our USMS swimmer friends as Facebook friends.

    Happy 2009! Thanks to all the contributors, including those who intended to contribute and those who didn't!

    BORKED
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  11. John is Real, Really

    by , January 2nd, 2009 at 10:04 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Thanks to the 353 (and counting) of you who viewed my last Vlog. The one criticism I received most consistently about this heartfelt homage to my fellow masters swimmers across this great pool-dappled country of ours was this:

    Great assemblage, Jim, but why so many shots of other people? Why not just concentrate only on yourself and people who look sort of like you personally?

    As one of the small handful of artists working in the rarefied medium of Masters Swimming Vlog Art, I could very easily have turned my back on such criticisms, shrugging the hues and cries of the "audience" as merely the jejune wimperings of the masses.

    But I am not like this!

    I appreciate my audience, though God knows that some of the members therein probably are so jejune they don't even know what jejune means!

    Forgive a moment of private chortling over a certain befuddled Aryan Nation friend in Arizona.

    Okay, composure regained.

    As regular readers of this vlog may eventually learn, I have a somewhat sickly nature, though I rarely mention it and never complain about it. I have been sidelined from the pool today due to a fear of explosive emissions of pretty much any stripe imaginable save the one most women who know me actually like to imagine. Thus no swimming to report on today, other, that is, than the swimming of my head. I can say without equivocation that it has Gone the Distance today!
    http://www.usms.org/fitness/content/gothedistance

    So what I propose to offer you today is a Vlog in the spirit of Partially Swimming Related Subject Matter, if by partial you accept the definition "not very much if at all." Instead, I am including an homage to my wonderful brother John. He is the mind behind the Leslie Livingston SCM butterfly Travesty of Travesty video, the Polar Bear Plunge (both scroffulous and musical versions), the epic Sunk, and pretty much anything you will see on this Vlog that is actually kind of good.

    John and I are identical twins, though people who have not met us in the same room often think I have made John up. Some who have met us, while acknowledging some familial resemblance, nevertheless don't think we are identical twins. However, according to the University of Minnesota Twin Study's David Lykken, Ph.D., we definitely are.

    One of is is the Good Twin; one the Evil Twin. Perhaps the hard turns my life has forced upon me accounts not only for the discrepancy in our character but in our looks.

    John no longer swims, but holds the family records for the 100 freestyle and backstroke, and probably butterfly, too. Neither of us can complete a 100 breaststroke in the alloted time frame, i.e., the length of the entire meet.

    If you are of a liberal persuasion, I strongly urge you to visit John's YouTube Channel, Rustyscupperton. If you are frothy-mouthed conservative, and for some reason you miss a swimming practice, you can still get your heart rate up to the target zone by similar visitations.

    It is all, as they say, good!
    http://www.youtube.com/results?searc...=0&oq=Rustyscu

    And here is my homage to John, with a little of me in there too, satisfying the earlier request, which I shall briefly recap here again:

    Great assemblage, Jim, but why so many shots of other people? Why not just concentrate only on yourself and people who look sort of like you personally?

    Just as Trenton makes, and the world takes--so is it that You ask, and Jimby gives!


    BORKED
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  12. Don't think about the cold, think about the fun!

    by , January 3rd, 2009 at 01:01 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Q & A with Jim Thornton

    --by Jim Thornton

    Q. Hi, Jim. Would you like to say hello to our audience?

    A. Hello to you, Jim, along with our fellow masters swimmers, RSS feed subscribers, the CBS viewing audience, and my good friend Mr. Martin Scorcese.

    Q. So, your output lately has really been astonishing. I can't believe you are posting more, so soon! People sometimes ask me, Jim, do you have a life?

    A. Excellent question! I do have a life, but it has been on hiatus for quite a while now. At the risk of overloading you with vlog material, and perchance exhausting your appetite for all things Jim and Jim-like, as if such might be remotely possible!, I am nevertheless adding the latest swimming-related video made entirely by my DNA. That is to say, by John.

    Q. John? Refresh my memory here.

    A. Those who have been thrilled by "John is Real, Really" recently know that John, my identical twin brother, likes to make movies. Today's vlog is on a subject that many masters swimmers have either A) participated in personally, B) considered participating in but have heretofore postponed the actual impulse to the future, or C) find this quaint hibernal passtime an embarrassment for our great sport of swimming.

    Q. Surely, you're not bringing up those Palin girls again?

    A. Of course not! I refer, of course, to the Polar Bear swim concept, wherein a bunch of tubs o' lard like me and John partially denude ourselves and go into some incredibly frigid sources of moisture in the hopes of losing massive winter weight gain. Speaking from experience, you don't really lose any weight. But you do lose, massively, the appearance of weight from an area of the body that can easily be mistaken for midriff bulge tugged downwards by gravity.

    Q. Always, those Palin girls find their way back! Okay, Jim, one last question before watching John's excellent polar bear swim film. You mentioned several blogs ago that you were going to swim the 1650 in practice. How did that go?

    A. Hard! I ended up swimming an average pace of 1:14.41, give or take, for an overall 1650 time of 20:33. This was in full hair exposed mode, no body suit, no dive, and water temperature of 85 degrees.

    Q. Yikes! Did Bill lap you, as expected, four times?

    A. Actually, Bill almost evaded swimming it entirely, but I taunted him into it. He swam a 19:27 after I got out, and we calculated that he would have only lapped me once, though with a 5 second head start (had we been circle swimming) almost twice.

    Q. How's that make you feel?

    A. I am not sure yet. I am still checking various age-grading programs from programmers in the US, Finland, and the UK. When I find one that provides me some reason to celebrate, I will let you know, Jim.

    Q. I have heard that Latvian age-grading is particularly lenient for 56-year-olds like you, and harsh for 38-year-olds like Bill.

    A. I have "nyet" yet looked into it! But on this perfect segue, i.e., Ivan the Russian Bear slowly morphing into John the Identical Twin Polar Bear, the Thornton genes gives you today's vlog...



    BORKED

    Updated January 3rd, 2009 at 01:35 PM by jim thornton

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  13. Part 1. Visualizing My Temporarily Non-Video Swimming Vlog

    by , January 4th, 2009 at 08:57 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    (Note: Just found out while attempting to preview this that I can only use 10 emoticons at a time, so must divide today's vlog into three mini installments. Sorry for the bother. --Jimby)

    Okay, no footage today, no still photography, no cartoons, no hieroglyphics. I am trying to figure out the cheapest, most portable, best, and least easily stolen & destroyed camcorder to buy, and it is proving surprisingly difficult.

    So, today's vlog will be made up of words and emoticons.

    I swam a meet today after having awakened from uneasy dreams and drunken three mugs of . I should have eaten a because I tend to get foot cramps a lot, especially when the water is and I don't drink enough . I was how I would swim, because for the past four days I had been feeling , laid low by in my inner ear, that caused a certain nausea and need to to the bathroom fairly frequently, plus I had a sore throat. In fact when we arrived at the meet, i actually had to to the bathroom. But maybe this is more than you care to know.
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  14. Part 2. Visualizing My Temporarily Non-Video Swimming Vlog

    by , January 4th, 2009 at 09:00 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    (Sorry for making you read this backwards. --Jimby)


    In any event, I the previous record holder of the 100 I.M. from the #1 spot in our league , which was something of a pyrric victory, because it was --embarrassing for a humble guy like me to to admit--my own record.

    This was followed by a mediocre 50 fly, an okay 25 free --a staple of our league, since we aren't so as to think such a distance is beneath us!

    But then I swam the 400 I.M., setting a new record (not my own!) by 9 seconds, with a rather pathetic 5:11 in the 55-59 age group.

    If I were not a teetotaller, I would have to propose a to my personal best post-diarrhea/nausea/sore throat performance in a pool measuring 18" deep (in the shallow end; I literally scraped my knuckles during warm up!)
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  15. Swallow

    by , January 7th, 2009 at 12:02 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    There are many fluid media in our world today. Obviously, viewers of this vlog are most interested in the aquatic medium, which is at once natural and foreign to us. We spend the first 40 weeks or so floating about in a sea of our own urine, possibly sporting gills for a short while in the "ontology recapitulates phylogeny" process.

    Fascinating but possibly off the subject explanation:

    [Note to those who took Science for Dummies
    TM in college and somehow escaped learning this magical phrase. What it basically means is that our development in the womb, or ontogeny, repeats, or recapitulates, the evolution of ever more complex life forms, or phylogeny, of earth's animal life. We start off as one-celled organisms, progress into something a bit more like a sponge-like ball of cells, progress even further to the gilled salamander stage, etc. until we come out as humanoids 9 months later.

    If you ever want to make someone think you are either smart or pompous, you can't do better than to memorize "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" and use it at every possible opportunity.]

    Back to fluid media

    Only during this womb submersion in the amniotic brine are we totally at home as sea creatures. Once born, we become largely terrestrial life forms, dependent on air, unable to swim without lessons at the Y that once again recapitulate a certain phylogeny--starfish, guppies, eels, pikes, sharks, dolphins.

    Fascinating but possibly off the subject reverie:

    [More fodder for digression. How many of us did, in point of fact, learn to swim at a Y? I can remember like it was yesterday the half century ago when 6-year-old Jimby took his first breaststroke-like pull in the tiny basement Sewickley YMCA pool, achieved propulsion, and quickly taught my twin brother John how to swim! I don't know what was more satisfying? As the surgeons say, "See one, Do one, Teach one!" To this day, I credit teaching my brother how to swim as one of my signature life achievements.]

    Penultimate desperate attempt to justify today's video:

    We never regain our vestigial gills, alas; never again regain that amphibean-like blind cave frog nature, the blissful subconsious memories of which, I am convinced, are the chief cause for the return to the womb fantasies guys like me chronically suffer.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, I try to return to the womb every chance I get.

    Where was I?

    Wrapping things up quickly here, let me restate today's vlog's central theses:

    1. We are born from tiny seas of our own creation
    2. I taught my brother how to swim
    3. Air is also a fluid medium
    4. Swimmers like to flock together
    5. Please enjoy my twin brother's latest charming and short YouTube film, narrated by the irrepressible Cameron, who students of this vlog will recall pronounced me "Sunk" during my inaugural open water swimming event.
    6. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.


    BORKED

    Updated January 7th, 2009 at 12:08 PM by jim thornton

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  16. The apogee of a dilettante

    by , January 9th, 2009 at 06:01 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Stardate 1-09-08.

    Your exhausted, wizened, and sore-throated vlogging correspondent, with the considerable help of his robust, young, handsome, identical twin, cross-dressing brother, present to you what may very well become the video anthem for every mediocre competitor who has the AUDACITY
    to stuff his stuff into an overly tight Speedo racing costume and aspire to the record books.

    I can take credit for only a small part of this wonderfully inspiring motion picture--i.e., the writing, starring, audio, and obligatory semi-nude cheesecake shots of me.

    My impossibly good-looking identical twin, whose allure is evident in both his male and female morphs, to the point where I would entertain having a three-way with him if it weren't so obviously wrong, anyhow, my brother John deserves much of the credit for this film.

    If Hoosiers could be remade without the basketball stuff, and set instead in a small town swimming hole, and furthermore if Gene Hackman could be placed squarely into this hole, well, I am pretty sure you know exactly where I am going!

    As someone--who knows whom?--has already posted on the RustyScupperton YouTube video channel, the host of this gem of a talkie:

    Absolutely wonderful! This film is not
    just about one man's tenuous claim
    on swimming glory; it is about
    Mediocre Everyman's striving
    for recognition in a world
    that says back to him,
    No! Not you! Not now! Not hardly!


    One final note: so compelling are the visual effects of this film that it is easy to get caught up in the visuals alone, ignoring completely the voice of the narrator. It is for this reason--plus a myriad more!--that
    Jim Thornton--Swimming's Glory demands not just to be watched and rewatched and rewatched again. No, it cries out for so much more!

    Word of wisdom to the would-be wise: if there be only one movie all year that you opt to watch 100 times, let this be it. You will not be disappointed.

    I, and by I I mean the film, am-is just that good!

    And on this note, I now invite you to enjoy as you have never enjoyed a swimming movie in your whole life.


    BORKED
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  17. Teammate Profile Series No. 1: Ronald Gainsford

    by , January 20th, 2009 at 09:23 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)

    “Whatever you do, don’t ever let anybody put you in the trunk of a car.”

    --J. Ronald Gainsford, 2006, over a pasta dinner in the Polish Hill section of Pittsburgh




    _____________________________________

    Today’s vlog is the first in an occasional series of profiles of teammates I’ve become friends with thanks to a shared interest in swimming. Ronald, now 79, was at one point the fourth fastest butterflier in the world. He missed out on the Olympics, alas, because two of the guys faster than him were also both US citizens, and the team only took two American representatives in the fly.




    Such factoids are probably the least interesting things about Ron, who grew up in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh back in the days when this was known more for thuggery than the University. At age 10, he and his friends offered to “protect” the cars of people who came to watch Pitt football games. Those sports fans who paid indeed got protection. Those who didn’t got flat tires.

    A couple years ago, when I was swimming regularly at Trees Pool atop “cardiac hill” in Oakland, Ron would regularly remind me to be careful, claiming he knew personally at least three murderers within a block of the pool.

    One, who suffered some form of insanity, had bludgeoned his victim to death with a hammer. Because of this, Ron would always keep his hand in his gym bag as we walked through the streets to the pool. He showed me once what he kept in there, but I can’t say what it was.


    I did, however, ask him how “they” could know what his hand was holding.

    “Oh,” he told me. “They know, all right.” Then he laughed the way guys do who don’t ever let other guys put them in a trunk of a car.

    _____________________________________

    I’d like Ronald even if his pearls of advice hadn’t, at least theoretically, saved my life.

    About nine years ago, I wrote a story on Masters swimming for my former employer, Men’s Journal magazine. Like most men’s magazines today, this publication was so obsessed with their youthful demographics that a guy past 40 doesn’t stand a chance of making it in as an athlete. I am pretty sure the following passage, which was my favorite part of that particular story, ended up on the editorial room floor.

    I will paste it in here because I think it will give you another idea of what Ronald has been through, and why he’s such an admirable fellow, and why swimming seems to offer all of us some real hope for salvation:



    When it comes to inspirational tales of the heart, there’s one man on our team who clearly trumps everybody: Ronald Gainsford, a 70-year-old retired Pittsburgh public school teacher. In 1953, Ron was rated fourth in the world in the 100 and 200 yard butterfly. He missed the Olympics only because, he says, "the three guys ahead of me were also from the U.S."

    I first met Ron over the lunch hour when I spied him swimming laps at the Y. You could tell immediately from his form that he was a great swimmer, so I tapped his shoulder in between laps to recruit him for our team. He stood in the shallow end and pointed to a huge scar running down the center of his chest. "I’d love to," he told me, "but I’m not supposed to compete. I’ve had a heart transplant, and my doctors don’t want me to go too fast."

    Ron told me he’d suffered a minor heart attack at age 55, followed by a devastating one in his early 60s. His heart was too badly damaged to be helped by bypass surgery, so his doctors kept him alive via medications, knowing that his only ultimate hope was a transplant. For five years, he told me, he’d lived "a nursing home quality of life"--unable to even walk the 25-yard length of a pool without stopping to rest.

    Just after turning 65, with his heart now pumping only one-sixth the normal blood volume, Ron finally received a donor heart from a 25-year-old guy killed when his pickup truck slid off an icy road. Though the surgery went well, Ron developed a staff infection that came close to killing him again. The day we met at the Y, Ron had just started swimming again and was trying to build up to 20 easy lengths a day.

    All of which helps explain my utter astonishment when, eight months later, I run into Ron here in Baltimore. Not only is he competing but he’s swimming some of the fastest times in his age group.

    "What’s happened to you?" I ask him.

    "After I talked to you in Sewickley," he explains, grinning, "I just kept slowly, slowly building up my distance in all the strokes. I went from 400 yards a day to 1800 yards. I said to myself, Hey, you’re getting pretty good at this, maybe too good for just recreational swimming.

    "So I went back to my cardiologist and told him I wanted to compete again. I underwent a full catheterization, and the results came back great. My doctor said, ‘I don’t see any reason why you can’t compete if you really want to do this.’"

    The Baltimore meet, it turns out, is Ron's third since getting the thumb’s up. In April, he medaled in several events at the highly competitive US indoor nationals. In July, he placed 4th in breaststroke, 6th in butterfly, and 10th in backstroke at worlds in Munich. Even as his times continue to drop, he’s refuses to take full credit for the accomplishments. A day doesn’t pass, he says, without him thanking the young guy whose heart beats inside him.

    "Whenever I talk about my races," he tells me minutes before the freestyle relay, "I always say we swam well."


    _____________________________________

    I’m not sure how many septuagenarian swimmers visit my vlog, but if you know any guys who same in the early 1950s, and perhaps competed at or against the University of Pittsburgh in those days, I would truly appreciate you passing this vlog on to their attention.

    Ron is talking about possibly swimming at the Worlds Masters meet when he turns 80. He did swim at the world transplant games recently, and I think he would do really well at the regular games, as well.

    Ronald, a life-long bachelor, lives alone. He goes to the Sewickley YMCA pretty regularly. I’ve tried to talk him into joining the computer world, what with email and Facebook and USMS forum discussions. But he won’t go for it. If you have a spare moment and think of it, send him a postcard.

    I’m sure it would make his day. And you will have a friend for life.

    J. Ronald Gainsford
    167 Carnation Avenue
    Pittsburgh , PA 15229-1001




    Updated January 21st, 2009 at 05:17 PM by jim thornton

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  18. World Semi-Naked Swimming News

    by , January 28th, 2009 at 04:33 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Why northern swimmers get better workouts than the hot house flower types from California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and other meteorologically pampered regions of the earth.

    BORKED
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  19. The FAF AFP Digest Advises Vlog the Inhaler

    by , January 31st, 2009 at 09:22 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)


    This is a picture of a fortress, the metaphor that the lovely Leslie Livingston has embraced as her USMS inner identity. How and why she chose such a metaphor is lost in the mists of time.

    Or I guess you could ask her.



    This is a picture of Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler (upon whom Dracula is allegedly based) that serves as the inspiration for the lovely Jim Thornton's USMS personna. That and Woodstock from the comic strip, Peanuts.

    Jim picked Vlad the Impaler as his self-image because it sounded like Vlog the Inhaler. Really, it doesn't make a lot of sense. Hopefully, this, too, will soon be lost in the mists of time.

    Jim picked Woodstock because in his inner mind's eye, he is an adorably cute little yellow bird who doesn't talk.

    Naturally, when Jim "Vlog Woodstock" Thornton needed counsel about his vlog, he sought out the advice of Leslie "Fortress" Livingston, whose blog "FAF AFP Digest" sets the standard for blogging excellence on these forums.



    Picture of Leslie (on left, with beard) and Jim (on right, in dress) undergoing therapy.

    Some of what was discussed can't be revealed here because of mandated reporting laws, Amber alerts, the 10 Commandments, and other aspects of Society's ********, man. But the advice that can be reproduced is this:

    "Jim, maybe if you put an occasional workout into your Vlog, you'd get more viewers and comments."

    Point taken, Mistress Fortress! May I have another, please!

    Here's what I swam today, which I should add is the capstone on a January totaling 36.73 miles:


    • 1 x 1000 broken into a 600 with open turns and a 400 with flip turns, the whole thing incredibly slow, but no less torturous for the slowness, as all the while "Up the Lazy River" played in an endless loop in my brain


    • 20 x 50 on 1:05, the interval chosen so that the exhausted brain would not actually have to count, but rather rely on the clock to more or less do this for him.



    • 1 x 10 minutes in the Sewickley YMCA steam bath


    • 1 x 8 minutes in the Sewickley YMCA men's shower room, shaving during my shower


    • 1 x 30 seconds in the pool again to stop sweating from the steam bath and shower


    • 1 reasonably average flight of stairs to the lobby


    And home again, home again, like a fat little pig!

    Tomorrow, we have a meet in Franklin, PA, 1 hour and 23 minutes from Sewickley. Those interested in the nice local league we Western Pennsylvanians swim in can view not only our meet schedule but Top 10 Times dating back to 1982. Simple click here and enjoy yourself:

    http://www.amymsa.org

    Finally, Leslie, I shall be monitoring the Vlog's activity in the wake of your excellent advice. Who knows? Perhaps one day, the student might even catch up with the teacher. And you know what must happen then, eh?

    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0553278320/ref=sib_dp_pop_fc?ie=UTF8&p=S001#reader-link"]Amazon Online Reader : If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! The Pilgrimage of Psychotherapy Patients[/ame]
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  20. Experimental Totally Swimming Related Vlog

    by , February 2nd, 2009 at 05:58 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Preliminary notes:

    I realize that some of our ranks like to make excuses for their swimming times, or perhaps to put this in more charitable terms, place some perspective on the factors that interfere with optimal performance.

    Some, well, me, are not like this. We are the Clint Eastwoodian, John Waynesque type swimmers, who never apologize, never explain, just let our swimming do our talking for us. Often "our action does our talking for us" in this sense involves a Gatling gun and a wide open plain strewn with bloody corpses in Speedos, being pecked by vultures.

    The excuse community, in the case of the recent YMCA meet I took part in, might well cite factors such as:


    • insufferable air inside the dank pool chamber, air which allegedly triggered dozens of asthma attacks in youngsters the day before
    • heat levels that are as close to an August day in Houston as you can find on a February day off I-80 in Western PA
    • an ongoing deterioration of global financial markets that contributes so much stress to those individuals subject to pathological worry that it would be hard for me, I mean them, to breathe successfully from a ventilator in an ICU oxygen chamber, let alone unaided in the Gitmo of that fetid, fetid YMCA!
    • the remains of a bubonic cold that, though abating, refuses to abate completely
    • a stretched out speed suit that is so cheap they can barely give them away when new, and this one is not even close to new
    • diving blocks that were so high off the water that nitrogen narcosis remains an ongoing concern during the breakout to the surface
    • lanes that measured approximately 18 inches in width. not lane lines, but the actual lanes themselves
    • the entire meet, which began with a 2025 yard warm up around 11, and finished not too terribly long after 2:30, with many of my, I mean the swimming person's, own events arranged 1-2-3 just like that!
    • etc.

    But I am not one to take refuge in even the most rational reasons for failure, and so I will leave all these above (and many, many other) excuses unremarked upon.

    Thus, without any adieu whatsover, or ado, or whatever the correct term is, without any of it, here are my results from yesterday's meet at the Franklin YMCA (not far from Clarion, PA, for those of you who know our neck of the woods):


    • 100 freestyle AGE GROUP: 55-591 JIM THORNTON 56 M SEWY 53.56


    • 50 freestyle AGE GROUP: 55-591 JIM THORNTON 56 M SEWY 24.63


    • 200 IM AGE GROUP: 55-591 JIM THORNTON 56 M SEWY 2:20.32 29.03 37.70 43.50 30.09


    • 25 butterfly AGE GROUP: 55-591 JIM THORNTON 56 M SEWY 13.28


    • 200 mixed freestyle relay AGE GROUP: 100-139 SEWY A 141 X SEWY 1:49.08 BILL WHITE 38M, MOLLIE NADLER 24F, BRANDI GEISENDORFER 23F, JIM THORNTON 56M23.44 27.94 32.69 25.01


    Now I must leave to do tonight's practice:


    • 10 x 100 on 1:25 warm up
    • 5 x 200 on 2:30 (get average time)
    • 4 x 200 on 3:00 (beat previous average)
    • 5 x 100 on 1:20 (get average)
    • 3 x 100 on 1:45 (beat average)
    • 1 x 50 on :45 easy

    total 3650

    Possibly more commentary to come. I shall closely monitor the success or failure of this totally excuse-less swimming vlog to see if such fodder is what my blog-hungry audience craves, and if so, provide more of it; or if not, then quietly allow the hardcore swimming stuff to atrophy away, vlogging more about the subtler aspects of aquatic Jimnitude, which may or may not include the erotic death fantasies few readers have a taste for.
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