Tuesday, July 17, 2007


You may recall that earlier in the summer, I did a little "coaching." This consisted of about seven hour-long clinics that the coaches from my swimteam put on for kids in the city's summer league swim program. My little niche was streamlines and breaststroke pullouts. In any given clinic, the kids were split into four groups, and each group got about fifteen minutes with each coach (or in my case, "coach").

The whole experience brought me right back to my swimming youth, since it was summer-league swimming that got me hooked on the sport. Unlike a lot of Masters swimmers, I was not really a year-round age-group swimmer (except for one year, and even that was only done in service of making me faster the next summer). At the time, I was not cut out for that much swimming in my life, but I always loved it when summer came around, and for months at a time I could live at Colony Pool.

[Isis taking full advantage of training equipment, c. 1988]

The kids you see on these teams were pretty much like any group of kids. There are some of them who cannot let pass any opportunity to grab another swimmer's leg, or mess with them while they are trying to work on their streamlines. There are some who never listen and then always ask, "What are we doing?" There are others who cannot get the hang of blowing out through their nose. There are the budding Jacques Cousteaux who try on each underwater pullout to break the world record for greatest distance traveled without breathing. There are those who hang on your every word because they want to be the best streamliner evar. And there are always those who really seem to have some skills, who might have a future in the sport.

[These are probably not the two who have a future in swimming....]

But my very favorite thing about summer-league kids (and this was true back in the 1980s, too), is that for some reason, unlike their USA Swimming counterparts, they do not call butterfly "fly"--they call it "butter." "Do we get to swim butter now?" they ask. "I can't swim butter," they warn me before I have even told them what we are doing.

It's a great image, isn't it, swimming butter?

Well, true to my summer-league roots, I can now announce (picture me jumping up and down) that last night I swam some butter. Our pool is temporary back in its short-course configuration (we are hosting the summer-league championships this weekend), so practice was in 25-yard format. We had an open warm-up, so I decided that this was the time for me to try to swim a little butterfly, since I did not have an entire 50-meter lane looming before me. (And let me tell you: nothing looks shorter than a 25-yard lane when you see it for the first time after long-course season. It felt pretty good! The recovery was not a problem at all, and I think that is an indication of how much my mobility has come back. I could definitely feel my diminished strength during the pull phase of the stroke, but still.

And because he always chooses to show up for these momentous occasions, my shoulder doctor was at the pool again, this time not swimming but there with his 11-year-old daughter, who was practicing with her summer-league team for this weekend's championships.


Anonymous said...

I love the photos. Some Chick!!!

Scott said...

From my miscellaneous readings doing backgrounds for my postings I've learned the top 'butters' of the world don't actually swim much butterfly in practice but rather save it for the races. Apparently it's too hard on the body and too easy to develop bad habits if you practice tired. So you can count your attitude towards fly as being in good company!

Magpie said...

Mmm...swimming butter.

Tony said...

Looking good girl! But with your wet hair it is hard to tell if you had one of those bad "Full House" hairdo's or not!

Isis said...

Good point, Tony. No, by that time I did not have the big hair--but a few years earlier? That's another story!

Anonymous said...

Can't remember where it was but this is the second time in a few days that I have read about swimming the butterfly stroke. And I am reminded of what I thought I looked like doing it.
Have you ever seen a leaf falling from a tree in the autumn? A maple leaf for example - not being blown off the tree by the wind, but softly sashaying down to the ground. Well, that was me doing the "fly" (as WE called it) - with very little forward motion!

I've just dropped in from surfing through multiple knitting blogs.
I used to be a summer swimmer too - only my years were more in the late 60's and very early 70's.
It was such a shock when swimming ended at age 16 - I had taken all the classes (up to and including Bronze Medallion- perhaps with a bar?) and swim team was no longer an option.
Sigh. I still regret it, even if I don't have a bathing suit that fits any longer. I don't think there's such a thing as Master's swimming in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Thanks for the memories,
janeyknitting AT yahoo DOT ca

Isis said...

Hi Janey,

Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment. I love your image of the floating leaf! I'm sorry there is no master swimming where you are--I know it is more prevalent in some places than others. I did do a little google searching, though, and found SOMETHING: http://www.swimnovascotia.com/mastersclub.php

Of course, I have no idea whether any of those locations would work for you.

Just a thought!