Independence Eve Swim. With camera in tow.

I got up ten minutes before the seven a.m. swim workout, grabbed my towel and my suit from the rack in the bathroom, filled a water bottle with a mix of cucumber Gatorade and water, grabbed a Samsung NX30 camera with the 85mm lens and headed out the door. The pool is about a mile from my house and I made it, suited up and was in lane four warming up by 7 sharp. The pool was packed. The workout was fun. We got in about 3,000 yards in an hour and then hauled ourselves out to make room for the 8:00 a.m. work out people. 

Usually I get dressed and then go on a focused search for coffee but today I decided to pull the camera out of the car and snap some atmospheric images of the 8 a.m. crew pounding through their workout. Jimmy B. was the coach on deck and he wrote a good series of sets. The coaches write the sets on a dry erase board, explain the sets and then as the swimmers execute the written workout the coaches watch for stroke mechanics that need correcting. They also shout out encouragement. 

Most of our training tends to be interval training. We mix long sets (series of quarter mile swims) with more speedy/agressive sets of 50 and 100 yard repeats. When our two former Olympians coach they each emphasize hard kicking sets to build speed. We older swimmers hate the kick sets because they invariably become anaerobic but they really do help increase the potential to go fast. 

The lanes are segregated by the sustainable swim speeds of groups of swimmers. On the far left side of the pool are slower swimmers and swimmers recovering from injuries. Lane two swimmers might be able to repeat 100 yard intervals continuously on a 1:45 pace, lane three on 1:35, lane four on 1:25, lane five on 1:15 and the fastest lanes might choose to repeat 100 yard intervals on something as crazy as a 1:05 interval. Not bad given that the average age in the fastest three lanes is probably around 35 or 40. 

In some of the images here you'll see swimmers wearing hand paddles. The paddles greatly increase the surface area of the hand/water contact component and build strength. They also reinforce good technique because any flaws in the arm stroke are magnified by the increased surface area. Some coaches only allow us to use hand paddles sparingly because they do modify body position. Other coaches using pulling as a reward because the increased speed one is able to attain is.....a little addictive.

I love the hand paddles because I have good upper body strength and a mediocre kick but one of our coaches, Tommy, says that swimming is kicking and he's bent on making me a better kicker, even if it kills me. That said, I notice that his ban on my pulling with a pull buoy for flotation has already improved by body position in the water. In swimming it seems that good technique is everything. Endurance and strength is important but it's all trumped (at least in sprints) by better technique. Which requires constant practice and focus.

We are very lucky to be Austin swimmers because we can swim outside all year round. Our club does a great job maintaining an 80 degree temperature by chilling the water in the summer and heating it in the winter. I can no longer imagine getting up every day and going straight in to work at a real job. I've done a good job over the past twelve years of weaning myself from the mentality that showing up all the time for work is a good thing. My perfect day---and I am engineering more and more of them---starts with a good, fun, friendly workout at the pool followed by coffee and some fun protein---like the Otto breakfast taco at Taco Deli. What is an "Otto"? A whole wheat tortilla, slathered with refried (vegetarian) black beans, slices of fresh avocado, a couple slices of applewood smoked bacon and a little drizzle of salsa verde. A couple of those will hold you until a late afternoon lunch. 

Only after the morning fun rituals do I consider sitting down and working on work. There are some mornings when I have to sacrifice a morning swim to meet a schedule but those times are getting further apart as I try to schedule more and more shoots to start around 11 a.m. and end by 6 p.m. After all, we're not selling our time we're selling what we know...

Synchronized flip turns. Cool. There's something about coming off the wall after a good turn that's magic. Getting the maximum glide through the water before beginning your stroke is, in my opinion, the closest most people will ever really come to the sensation of flying without a device. It makes one feel so alive.

By the way.... I am buying an Olympus OMD EM-5 today...just to see what all the fuss is about. Can't wait to compare its files to those from the GH3s and GH4. My rationale? I needed one body with IBIS for those times when I want to use the 45mm 1.8 and other non IS lenses in low light. Good rationale, huh?

The photo/fiction action/adventure blockbuster of the Summer. 
A "must have" as the antidote to boring time
spent in airports and on planes...