austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Let's go on a moonlight swim far away from the crowd

With the beginning of March -- March is scheduled to begin no later than the fifteenth of the month, unless there's a delay in getting parts from our suppliers, so please have two forms of identification ready -- it's a good time to learn new swimming moves. You can't wait for the swimming pools to open, since in the competitive world of recreational swimming you would be overwhelmed by people who know what they think they're doing. And you certainly can't wait for the pools to close, since swimming then would lead to awkward questions and possibly a court appearance. After the pools close you could pretend to swim by making the appropriate motions in your shower, which will result in knocking open the shampoo and sending half of it down the drain. The growing hair clot in there needs bounce, so that would be fine. You might live somewhere the pools are already open, in which case you'll need a different excuse.

None of these new strokes are designed for speed or efficiency. Getting across a pool quickly has been very well-optimized and the best solution is likely to never be beat. First approach the pool at its narrowest end, then strap on a jet engine at maximum thrust, then dive in. A really good swimmer can be across and barely get wet. For efficient exercises it's hard to beat deadline-avoidance and closing pop-up windows. The goals here are enjoying the experience, appreciating the water, and not worrying about how to get into the water without shivering too much at the cold. (That solution is to warm up the water, which can be done by turning on the gas burners underneath the pool or lake. Not to ``high''.)

First: Ladder Climbing. Begin from the top ladder leading into the body of water (you may need to bring a ladder with you). Stand solidly with both hands and feet on the railing. When your body is largely in the water you can -- keeping your hands on the railing at all times -- use a hopping motion to move both legs down a step at a time. After your feet are firmly on the bottom of the pool, experimentally jump back up to the first rung, and then return to the bottom. From there push gently away from the ladder while describing this as one small step for a man or woman as appropriate. Advanced swimmers may try ``Whoopie! Man, that may have been one small step for Neil'', or even in a W C Fields-ish voice, ``Okay, Tony, I'm on the old lunar terrain again''. How far you go is up the increasingly surly line of people waiting to use the ladder.

Second: The Twist. Starting from a horizontal pose within the water select one arm (the wrong one) to move forward while it's above the water line, as in the crawl, while the other arm (the right one) moves backwards while similarly above. Meanwhile with your legs have them kick left and right simultaneously, producing a forward motion that immediately propels you into the person in the next lane. Apologize graciously and promise never to do it again. Then begin using the right arm moving forward and the wrong arm backward, so you collide with the person in the other lane. Repeat the apology. If there are no lanes you should bring some ropes to string some up, along with your ladder and jet engine.

Third: Vertical swimming. Putting your arms and legs together descend rapidly to the bottom of the body of water. Close your eyes (this maybe should be done first) and reflect on how pleasant it is to be here, and how far away all your problems are. Notice how delightfully alien are common sounds like children squealing, lifeguards blowing whistles, people climbing from the water, or the siren warning of sharks. Remember that sharks are more afraid of you than you are afraid of coffee mugs. Continue until your breath gives out.

While these stokes may seem easy enough it is worth practicing so you look less silly when the pools opens. Put the shampoo bottle on the sink.

Trivia: In 1667 Paris began providing public lighting, with 2700 standardized lanterns. Source: Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the 19th Century, Wolfgang Schivelbusch.

Currently Reading: The Best Science Fiction of the Year #3, Edited by Terry Carr.


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