Tuesday, March 18, 2008


So, I've taken the plunge (not quite literally) and purchased my plane ticket for the meet today. I was really hoping it would be cheaper, but God made a way for the $1985.69 purchase.

Hotel - done
Ticket - done
Visa - done
Passport - done
Meet Registration - welllll
Food - Hmmmm

Okay, so there's one final important detail to handle. And the registration is due within the next few days. Yippee! Capital One has never gotten so many payments out of me in one month. But They don't charge fees to change international currency so Capital One it is. I gotta save money somewhere.

As for the food, I have another month or so to cross that bridge. Wish me luck that I don't fall off!

Until next time!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Figures: Porpoise

Unless otherwise noted, all illustrations can be found in the appendix of FINA Rule Book.

Now, let’s learn the second required element of the tech routine.

The Porpoise

Unlike the walkover, where you may have another way to begin the figure, you have to start the porpoise from a front layout.

Let’s begin from the canoe scull. As you can see from the illustration below, lay flat on your stomach with your neck arched so your head is above the water. Press up on your heels to keep your feet at the surface. Your hands will be flexed at the wrist like you’re pushing something away. Actually you will be pushing the water away as you scull under your hips with fingertips pointed on an angle to the bottom of the pool. You should travel forward in this position.

To assume the front layout position, extend your neck to gently lay your face in the water. Next, slide your hands forward until they are in front of your head and angling toward the bottom of the pool at about a 45° angle. Cup your hands like cobra heads and scull in and out in what’s called an Alligator or Russian scull. You should look like the below illustration and traveling forward.

To pike, bend only at your hips while reaching forward. Your hands should barrel scull over your head like you’re trying to knock a top hat off as one coach describes it. The scull keeps your momentum going as you pike. This is important because you want your hips to replace your head. Your ending position will look like this:

Notice where your hands end. As you pike, you’ll pull your arms in and down to your sides. Your palms will be up (relative to you) like you’re holding a tray. They will scull in and out in Support Scull.

If you’ve read the walkover post, you’ll note that the take down to the pike position is exactly the same as it is for this figure. Now we’re ready for the difference.

Instead of lifting one leg as you did for the walkover, you’re going to lift both legs at the same time to a vertical position like this:

To hit the vertical, you have to make sure that you start with a good pike. Many people tend to over pike. This means that your hips have passed your head so you’re no longer in an “L” shape, but more of a “V.” If you lift your legs from this position, you’ll end up on your back and you’ll descend at an angle if you’re able to keep from flopping all the way over. This is why you want to hit a good pike position.

To lift your legs, it’s a little easier to start from a paddle scull. Reach your hands in front of you and drop your wrists a little bit. Alternating hands, use a bicycle (or paddle like) motion as you lift your legs by contracting the muscles in your butt.

As your legs get higher, pull your arms in to your sides and begin to support scull. You won’t need too many paddle sculls before you need to switch. Pay attention to your body instead of worrying about timing. When you have the “oh crap” moment, that’s when you switch.

When you hit the top, the moment your body is the highest you can get it and the straightest, all you have to do is descend. If you need a fast descend and you’re not especially buoyant, you can stop sculling. This does not mean that you relax your body. You have to keep your core tight all the way down or the figure will collapse.

If you are really buoyant (like me) turn your hands over and do a head first scull down. The figure is over once your toes are under.

Once your toes are under bring your knees to your chest and tuck out of the vertical and surface. There are a couple reasons for this. First, it gets your legs under you pretty quickly so you can continue swimming the same direction you were before. Second, it stops you from piking out of it and relaxing your core before the figure is finished. You lose major points if you don’t do the complete figure.

And there you have it! Your first porpoise. The complete figure looks like this:

Happy Swimming!!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Basics: Foot First Scull

Now that you’ve learned the Head First Scull, let’s put a twist on it and go Foot First instead.

As you did with the Head First, start in your back layout.

Make sure that your head and hips are all in line on the surface of the water and your toes are pointed. Your chin should be back and your shoulders relaxed. Your elbows are bent slightly and your hands are at your hips.

To scull, flex your wrists so that your palms are slightly cupped from your wrists. Keeping your shoulders relaxed, move your arms gently in and out with your elbows. Your hands should reach slightly under your hips as you scull in and out, this time leading with your fingertips. Again, your hands will make gentle figure eights as you move.

This scull takes a little more work to keep your toes on the surface. As you scull, you might notice that you have the tendency to drop your hips. When you do that you make the scull harder because your butt is literally dragging.

To correct this, squeeze your butt to press your hips back to the surface. You’ll also note that your hands have more room to work when your butt is out of the way.

Another problem you’ll note is that your toes will tend to submerge. Tighten the muscles in your upper thighs to pull them up. Until your body is stronger, you’ll notice that it’s difficult to press your hips up and keep your toes up at the same time. No worries. Just keep working on it until you build the strength in both your core and your thighs.

Before you know it you’ll be skimming across the surface of the water with your toes leading the way! Just be careful when you get to the end of the pool. You don’t want to skin your toes on the pool wall. Trust me. It’s happened before and it’s not fun.

Happy Swimming!!!

Perth Update

Last time, I was beginning the frantic journey to raise $3,000 to go to the swim meet in Perth. Through a combination of magazine sales, article submissions, cookie sales and flat out donations, I've raised a little over 1/6 of the cost. Whoo hoo!!!

That, combined with a slight pay raise, a second job, a tax refund and the grace of God, I'm going to make it. I'm taking everything a step at a time. So far, I've paid for the hotel, renewed my passport and got a visa to enter the country (my first Australian purchase! Yeah!). In the next few weeks, I pray I'll be able to get the plane ticket and I have to register for the meet itself. After that, once I get there, I'll worry about food.

In my research to keep costs down I learned that Visa/Mastercard tend to charge extra fees for currency exchange. So travelers beware. Still, it's cheaper to use a credit card because bank exchange rates tend to be more favorable than ones for consumers. And I found that Capital One does not charge these fees. Still, while I'm there, I'd like to use Australian currency. Since I have checking and savings with Citibank here in the States, I'll be able to use their branch in Perth to get currency without the exorbitant fees changers charge. Who knew being a Citi customer would be so beneficial?

So if you're planning any type of international travel, I highly recommend that you get a credit card from Capital One and open an account with Citibank.

And that's it for now.

Happy swimming!!