View RSS Feed

Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton

The Live Comedic Swim Stylings of Jim

Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.
For those so lacking in impulse control that you simply cannot wait, go ahead and click the play button.

However, you might want to first read the explanatory comments below, which may well enhance your viewing experience in a way similar to taking a college course in Classical Music can make it possible to sit through a concert without immediately succumbing to narcolepsy.

[ame=""]YouTube - High Noon at the New Castle Y[/ame]

Okay, I am assuming that if you have reached this point in today's vlog, you have not yet clicked the start button. You have wisely chosen to extend your pleasure by postpoining it!

In the process, you have opted to become educated in the nuances of the admittedly palsied footage you are about to see and hear. Good for you! I, for one, am proud of you. I don't know if I personally could have resisted pressing the start button already myself. But I admire people like you who can!

Let us begin with the Dramatis Personnae and Narrative Overview of our little drama, and so forth.

The film opens with the protagonist, Jim "Aging Golden Boy" Thornton, now known behind his back simply as Jim "Fool's Golden Boy" Thornton, pointing out several of the features of the New Castle YMCA swimming facility--its five lanes, the narrowness of same, the impotent gutters that seem, if anything, more designed to augment rather than dampen waves, etc.

What the film does not, in fact, cannot show is how hot the water is. During warm up, or perhaps more accurately, hot up, I felt like a queasy chunk of semi-digested flotsam in the belly of a dyspeptic whale.

But just as such flotsam, under the right conditions, can be vomited out of the leviathan, found by explorers, gathered up and sold to the finest perfumeries in France, and end up converted into Chanel No. 5 and spritzed on the slender necks and elbow crooks of the world's most enticing would Jim "Fool's Golden Boy" Thornton make something magical out of the ambergris of his being...

After the set up, we cut to the Men's 200 Freestyle Relay in the 180-219 additive man years division. The Sewickley YMCA has fielded many a glorious team in this legendary race since the circa 1982 founding of the Allegheny Mountain YMCA Masters Swimming Association, or AMYMSA (pronounced "Amy Missa")

A quick check of the all-time Top 10 relay results clearly bears this out:

Men 200 free.relay Total Age: 180-219

1 SEWY Andre Weisbrod Jim Thornton Bill White Kevin Robertson18104-05CLAR1:39.16

SEWY Bill White Dale Sirinek Jim Thornton Preston Test18011-02GRBG1:39.21

SEWY Ronald Jacobs Jim Thornton Dick Lynn Andre Weisbrod18309-00SEWY1:39.71

SH Robert Casey Bob Jenner Bill Herzer Gary Matyko18604-97CU1:41.03

5 SEWY Ronald Jacobs Andre Weisbrod Dale Sirinek Jim Thornton19904-03CLAR1:41.90

SEWY Andre Weisbrod Jim Thornton Bill White Dale Sirinek19604-04CLAR1:42.54

Note 1. With the exception of SH, or South Hills, which placed 4th all time and which I have highlited in pink, SEWY, or Sewickley, has all but one of the top 6 all time finishes in our league. It is of some curiosity to note that all of these have occurred since the arrival of one swimmer in particular, who returned to his boyhood home of Sewickley from St. Paul, MN in 1995, like a magnificent male salmon who, despite prodigious quantities of milt, dodged grizzlies and powered up cataracts via powerful flicks of his tail flukes, to arrive at last upstream where he started.

Note 2. I have taken the liberty of highlighting this one milt-laden salmonid-like swimmer in Royal Blue.

Note 3. The relay swimmers in the video appear in the following order:

  1. Lead off: Bill White, 38. Adjective: Magnificent. Our team's coach, a harsh but lovable task master who is on almost as many of the Top 10 Relays as the individual highlighted in Royal Blue
  2. Next: Dan Nadler, 58. Adjective: Avuncular. Our team's absolutely brilliant and generous eye doctor, the former YMCA Pennsylvania state champion in the 14-15 age group (yes, they did have this age group 43-44 years ago when Dan's peri-pubertal morph emerged victorious in the York YMCA pool waters) is also the uncle (hence avuncular) of Mollie Nadler, who makes a to-die-for cameo later in the video
  3. Next: Jim Thornton, 56. Adjective: Spiritualeaderish. Your's truly, about whom if you do not yet know something, you are not keeping up sufficiently with this vlog. Of particular importance filmically: I am wearing a red swimming cap borrowed at the last minute from the lovely Jamie Heil [ame=""]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame] of the Cranberry YMCA masters team. She leant it to me after I realized I had forgoten to bring a cap with me to the blocks.
  4. Anchor: Mark Cox, 40. Adjective: Dimpled. A new recruit to the Sewickley Y, Mark has been compared to Clark Kent by the young women on our team--a serious fellow with his glasses on, but once these are removed, his movie star good looks and high wattage amiability reveal an underlying superhero quality. Bequeathed his three gorgeous little daughters with dimples, too.

Together, the four of us are much more than our individual parts. Together, we are one lean, mean 192-year-old man you do not want to mess with.

The old record to beat: 1:39.16

Splits in the relay:

Coach Bill 23.49

Uncle Dannny 26.94

Golden Boy 23.87

Mark the Coxman: 23.53

Total: 1:37.83

Record: Smashed so far beyond all recognition that even the Pittsburgh CSI had trouble identifying it.


The film then cuts to my next event, the 50 yard butterfly. Narration for this scene is provided by the lovely Mermaid [ame=""]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame] whom some of you may have met at last year's USMS convention and/or Albatross Meet. If so, I am sure you remember her. A forrmer Miss Teen Age Pennsylvania, it is fair to say she cuts an unforgettable figure in the minds of men.

To my side is Coach Bill, who also flanked me during the later 100 yard butterfly swim. Unfortunately, Mermaid, who assured me that she would film this event too, got caught up in other activities when the time for the latter money shot came. How quickly the young girls forget your narrator Jimby's attempts to preserve his glory for posterity! It is as if they want absolutely nothing to do whatsover with anything involving my posterior!

Oh, well. It's okay. My disappointing time in the 50 fly--27.78--allows for an easy DIY simulation of my 100.

Simply watch the 50 in its entirety, rewind back to its start, pause exactly 5.24 seconds, then watch the 50 again.

My time for the 100 was 1:00.80, and if the above math is correct [(2 x 27.78} + 5.24 = 1.00.80], the above should allow you to relive the experience vicariously down the the nearest hundredth of a second. Just make sure to time your blinking so it doesn't look like I get to dive twice, which I am pretty sure is a rule violation.


This meet experience, especially the 100 fly that didn't get filmed, does give me hope that with a little more butterfly practice, I have a prayer of breaking a minute again in the 100 before I die.

Hell, if I can secure financing out of TARP funds to pay for a B70, there's a good chance I can break :50.

For those of you who love a good story of adversity overcome and impossible dreams realized, stay tuned.

For the rest of you, I will try to get Mollie to make another cameo.

Submit "The Live Comedic Swim Stylings of Jim" to Digg Submit "The Live Comedic Swim Stylings of Jim" to Submit "The Live Comedic Swim Stylings of Jim" to StumbleUpon Submit "The Live Comedic Swim Stylings of Jim" to Google



  1. Chicken of the Sea's Avatar
    Something nice.
  2. Bobinator's Avatar
    Great Swimming in new Castle! You are quite the butterflyer!
    I like old YMCA pools; they are very retro and remind me of being a kid. The new Castle pool seemed to have alot of natural light beaming in....or maybe it was just the luster of the "golden boy!"
  3. qbrain's Avatar
    Jim, you have very long toes.
  4. The Fortress's Avatar
    Why does my new buddy Coach Bill have the most boring nickname of the bunch?

    Very nice relay. Nice 50 fly as well. I'm going to watch it again, but I think your fly could benefit from some more core strength. You're swimming it mostly with your arms.

    Lordy, I've never noticed the long toes ...
  5. jim thornton's Avatar
    Thanks one and all. This was definitely a retro pool, as are most of the ones we swim in. As far as my toes go, I don't think they are particularly long. It's just the pre-rictus effect, where mummifying tissues begin to shrink away, providing, for example, in the case of the face, a teeth-baring horrifying look. I think that the rictus is just starting in my toes--the second one on my left foot is now chronically white and devoid of blood on cold days--and what you see is the pulling away of natural inter-toe plumpness and borderline webbing associated with young, vital, human beings in full possession of their youth, vitality, and humanity.

    The IRS has taken all that. And still they want more, more, more!

    Productive citizen Jimby: soon to be societal parasite Jimby!

    Leslie, my back gets really sore after fly, so you are probably correct about the core business. Hopefully, I can work on that before the rictus reaches the sacroiliac!
    Updated March 4th, 2009 at 01:46 PM by jim thornton
  6. RustyScupperton's Avatar
  7. tjrpatt's Avatar
    I thought that we had some retro pools on the East Side of PA!!!
  8. jim thornton's Avatar
    Did you see the pool where Dave Varner (spelling?) vlogged his 100 IM? It looked to have 20 lanes! Why can't PA have nice pools?