Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thanks for all the Fish (Cause and Effect)

While the great 50m outdoor pool is open here during the summer I'm using every break from cycling or running to go and do some swimming. It's not my favourite activity and it probably tells me that I wouldn't be a good astronaut either. I like gravity and seem to be a bit lost without it's full effects to deal with - though it would be handy if it were just slightly reduced at times - like if I lost another 5kg. I can imagine a workout on a space bike - you'd get good at pulling up with one pedal at the same time as you push down on the other because it's the only way you could stay in the saddle.

Swimming also relates to outer-space in the sense that you can very quickly suffocate. That's something else I'm just not all that comfortable with. Guess I'll never really feel at home there. Perhaps that's why Douglas Adams had Dolphins migrating though space naturally and the "Thanks for all the fish" parting message as they left the planet for good.

Today I played with technique again - because I'm crap at going fast or far or anything else for that matter. The sensation of anchoring the arm in the water and pulling the body forward is really starting to come. Lots of the stuff I have read and studied over the years is starting to happen by itself - though it's never quite the same as when you directly try to make it happen. The language for communicating feelings just doesn't exist. It's a shame that all this effort goes into developing computer programming languages today and yet nobody has the vocabulary to describe swimming. Perhaps Dolphins could accurately describe it for me - but unfortunately they have fins instead of arms so it might not work even if we could understand them  - and Douglas Adams is dead now so he wouldn't be able to translate.

The anchoring is linked to the body's rotation. If you rotate the body towards the arm during the down phase, lifting up the elbow, it somehow anchors the arm and then with a continued body rotation the arm keeps it's whole surface area presented to remain anchored as the body slides forwards. The pull also goes though the core muscles and the body feels like it arcs around the stationary arm. (Imagine the elbow going from overhead, out to the side and then close to the waist - tracing an arc. But it's the body that moves instead!) Perhaps an exercise could be invented for doing that as a means of propagation on a mat. Don't know where this is leading or if it has made me any faster but there was less suffocation, less tiredness of the arms and better feeling of power. My swimming has such a long way to go though - but it's getting more interesting. How do other people learn all this as kids? Guess this is part of my education that really didn't happen! 

One sure fire way to know if something is "right" is when it starts "happening to you". When you have spent time trying to do something by rote - but it remains mechanical and deliberate with no great feeling linking it to other aspects of the activity  - then you are just going through the motions and not really understanding it. Eventually the body "self organises" around this coordination and suddenly the whole thing works and starts happening to you - not as a cause but as an effect. That's when you know that something is right. Most technical descriptions confuse cause and effect and that's where the language of "feeling" always breaks down.

No comments:

Post a Comment