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Splash

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“Swimmers, take your mark…” Beep! Splash! This is all I hear up on the starting block, muscles tensed, ready to spring, my stomach back flipping like an Olympic gymnast. That harsh beep coming from the starter’s speaker may be one of the harshest, most annoying sounds ever, but to me it’s like a trumpet call from heaven. The go-ahead to spring forward, straight into cerulean, clear, cold water. This is the sport of swimming, a rather unappreciated sport, but one I live for.

As a competitive swimmer there are four strokes that everyone is taught, the butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke, and freestyle. Of these four strokes my favorites are the freestyle and the backstroke. When I swim the freestyle it’s like I’m flying through the water, I feel my muscles working, pulling the water and pushing me forward, ever closer to the finish. While backstroke is much like the freestyle, except for the obvious difference of swimming on my back instead of my front. In the backstroke I can breathe a bit easier than in the freestyle, breaststroke, and the butterfly because my face is constantly out of the water; save for when I do my flip turn.

Breaststroke is probably the slowest stroke of the four. It is swum much the way a frog swims. With the power focused on my legs instead of my arms, as in the other strokes. With a long glide, short, quick pulls, and powerful kicks, the breast stroke is a wonderful stroke to watch, but probably the most technique oriented stroke of all. Therefore, it is also the most difficult to teach, because this is a stroke that you are either naturally good at or you are not.

Butterfly, the bane of my existence, is considered by many the most beautiful of all four strokes, but it is also the most physically exhausting. In the butterfly you use an undulating dolphin kick that works your entire body, and your legs must remain together. In the pull you bring both arms out of the water simultaneously on the recovery. Though it sounds simple enough, and if you watch it performed it looks effortless, to actually perform it is a completely different story. It takes a lot of power and endurance to excel in this stroke.

Swimming is also a very interesting sport to coach, because there is no set way to teach a certain stroke. Though all the strokes may look the same to someone watching a race, each swimmer has a different way of swimming, depending upon the way they are built and the coaches they have had. Differences can range from the way one may move their hand through the air on the recovery in their pull, or how they position their heads. These differences may seem like they do not matter, but they all can affect how fast you swim and sometimes, whether or not you win the race.

Swimming is a sport that is widely considered to be an individual sport, and to an extent that is correct. In competitions you are racing not only against the competitors, but your own teammates and yourself, attempting to beat your old time and pushing yourself to improve. But swimming is also a team sport as well, such as in relays and in summer league dual meets. In summer league dual meets it is more of a team effort to beat the other team, you still race against your own teammates but I have found that there is more camaraderie than on a year round team.

Another thing about swimming is that it made me look at time differently. I used to believe milliseconds and seconds were pretty meaningless. I mean, what is a second or two right? Well in swimming, seconds and milliseconds are everything. They define a race, the winner and the losers. I get really happy when I drop a few milliseconds, and I jump for joy when I drop seconds, because that means I have really improved and my hard work is paying off.

Swimming is also a great well rounded sport when it comes to working your body, most sports focus only on certain areas of your body, like in basket ball its your lower body and your arms, in soccer your legs. In swimming you exercise your legs, arms, abs, chest, and back. Talk about a full body work out!

All in all, swimming is a wonderful sport to get involved with; you don’t even have to be on a year round team to truly enjoy the sport. Joining a summer league team is a great way to introduce yourself to the sport of swimming because the main focus is to just have fun and learn new things. At the least just getting together with friends to swim laps and joke in the pool are great ways to enjoy the sport of swimming.





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MasterZone said...
Feb. 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm
  Where I learned swimming, breaststroke is the first swimming style that children learn, and the most basic.
 
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