Sunday, March 5, 2017

I'm Fastest When I'm the Slowest

Have you ever heard the saying, "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast?" Perhaps not. It's typically used in tactical settings, such as sniper sighting, Navy Seal instruction, picking up hotties, and other forms of military training. I'm familiar with none of these. I do, however, appreciate the conflict in the concept. Rushing around makes for sloppy technique, which in turn makes you slow. Being slow and deliberate in your movements makes you smooth, which makes for quality technique, which in turn makes you get the hottie's number faster without even trying.

I was thinking about this idea of slow being smooth, smooth being fast the other day while in the pool. Swimming is highly technical. When you rush it, your stroke gets sloppy. The better your form, the faster you'll go. Lucky for you, and maybe me (we'll see), swimming fitness and swimming technique climb the hill together. This is the reason that competitive swimmers will put in 10's of thousands of yards of swimming in an easy week. Sometimes, they'll reach 10k+ in a day. Every stroke is both fitness building and technique building. The more strokes, the more fitness and improved technique. Triathletes, especially ones that don't come from a swimming background, don't appreciate this as much as they should. We struggle to get to the pool 3 days a week and believe that 2500 yards is a big deal. Sadly, there is no shortcut to speed in the water...

...Actually, there is this one little thing. It happens when the Male Ego Gene thinks that a you should be superior than those around you even though you're not. As a result, you will go faster. Here's the catch, you will be trying. But, you won't know that you are trying. Which should make you wonder- if you are trying without knowing that you're trying, does it count as effort? (I, being a science guy, know the answer to this question.)

Here's how the situation played out in the pool: As always, lanes 4-6 were water aerobics people with silvery type hair (Aside: I must be inadvertently stalking these people. We are always at the pool at the same time, regardless of the day or the pool. Either that, or there is a never ending feed of classes. I really don't know. /End Aside.)

Lane 2 featured a 10 year old girl. She was wearing a blue competitive suit, odd in these parts (the competitive thing, not the color thing or the girl thing). She reminded me of a Sailfish (featured in the pic). She and the sailfish had a lot in common. Obviously, they're both sporting the color blue. They had thin, sleek physiques that slice through the water. Sailfish and the girl clock in at somewhere between 4 and 5 feet in length. Sailfish are known as the fastest in the water, reaching speeds near 70 mph. The girl wasn't far behind. There were a couple of notable differences between the two, in case you were wondering. 1. The girl's nose wasn't that long. 2. She was a lot smilier than shown in the image. 3. Her dorsal fin wasn't nearly as pronounced.

In lane 1, near the wall, was a college-aged dude who was a little soft in the middle but had big, beefy swimmer shoulders. He had one of those swim caps with an American flag and his name. Well, I assumed it was his name but I never got a chance to validate that assertion. There were some barriers towards that reading. First, I'm nearsighted and the writing wasn't large. Second, I typically don't check out the dudes spend that much time in a single spot, proffering to workout. This makes reading a bit more difficult. Third, he was doing a butterfly set. He slipped through the water like a bottlenose dolphin, smooth and undulating. It was a pretty sweet spectacle to behold. Why would I bother trying to read his cap when there was so much beauty in his stroke?

In lane 3 was the Banter. For those of you who haven't had the privilege, my aquatic spirit animal is a manatee. I hang out just beneath the surface with a perma-muffin top that refuses to disappear on it's own. Instead of swimming, I just hover inches below the surface yet still seem to move in a forward direction. People aren't really sure which of my body parts cause the propulsion. We both are super gentle and not that smart. In all fairness to the manatee, they are significantly cuter than me.

In sets of last week, I was holding my 100 yard repeats on the 1:40 and feeling accomplished (it really is such a sad state of mind). Well, it didn't take me long to notice that the 10 year old sailfish and the butterflying dolphin dude were both holding intervals at a much faster speed than my seaweed grazing sack of goo was capable of achieving. Much to my surprise, when I hit the wall on the first rep, the deck clock announced that I had arrived in a 1:21. Excuse me? I was certain it was a mistake. Well, the ego gene was firmly in command at this time so I made the decision to send off on the 1:30 instead of the 1:40. Typical progressions go in 5 second intervals, meaning that a smart guy would have tried for the 1:35, based off of recent training past. Remember, I'm a low IQ sea cow. The second rep landed on the 1:22, as did the 3rd and 4th. The fifth slowed to a 1:25.

I took a breather and recharged my mojo by watching the superior marine life in the lanes next to me practice their trades. Their techniques couldn't be any more different from each other and from mine. They were united in the notion that I would have been a significant roadblock had we been sharing a lane. I pushed off on the second set of 5x100s thinking that I'd be back in reality land. Nope. I held 1:23-24 for the lot and kept my interval at 1:30.

It was as it's always been. By swimming with people who are faster, the mind and body get stretched out past the limits they placed. In being the slowest person in the pool, a situation that I loathe, I became faster than I've been since my return to the drink. I wasn't even trying to go that fast. It just happened.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, yes, it counts as effort. How do I know? Later on that night, I couldn't lift my arms above my head. (Aside 2: I really didn't have much of a reason to lift my arms above my head. The only reason I know about the struggle stems from a yawn and attempted stretch. If it weren't for that, I'd still be thinking that I'm some sort of super-adaptor. Again, I'm not that smart. /End Aside 2) The unknowing effort caught up with me. Which is alright, since I spend most of the evening not moving and grazing. I'm a manatee on land, too.

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