Off Topic: Just thinking about exercise as the seasons change to HOT here in Texas.

Warm up lanes. USMS Short Course Nationals.

We're deep into Summer here in Austin, Texas. Our swim schedule at the pool gets modified to accommodate member's pool use. We have the pool from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. So we set up two, one hour practices to make sure there is space for everyone who wants to participate. No noon workouts in the Summer. 

All this week we could feel the water temperature creeping up. It might be counterintuitive but it's hard to swim hard in warmer water. At a certain point it can even be dangerous. On Tues. this week it was about 84 degrees (f) and we were able to get in about 3400 at each workout. After a string of temperatures over 100, coupled with high humidity, the pool felt closer to 86 today. 

We don't have a water chiller built into the filtration system at our pool but we do make good use of aerators which are basically pumps that spray water into the air and back into the water. The evaporative cooling helps a great deal but depends quite a bit on the humidity to be low. The lower the humidity the higher the cooling power. The optimum temperature for a practice pool for swimmers participating at a high level is about 78 degrees. Competition pools like the University of Texas at Austin pool shown in these photos are kept to a pretty precise temperature range somewhere between 77 and 79 for practice. 

If you are swimming in warm water and going hard you'll need to be especially aware of hydration. Pool water has a different pH than your body's fluids and pulls water from you by osmosis. I keep a bottle of water next to my bed and, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I start drinking early, in anticipation of the morning workout. It takes time to get water into your system so really, you are hydrating this afternoon and this evening in anticipation of tomorrow's workout. 

I find that I need a combination of dryland exercise and swimming over the course of each week for optimum health. I swim six days a week and, since we do an hour and a half on Saturday and Sunday that's seven hours of intense aerobic effort. But it's not weight bearing exercise so I add in four days a week of running in the cool seasons or four days of walking in the warm seasons. I think people over 60 need to increase the amount of weight bearing exercise they get to offset the tendency to lose muscle mass over time. Since we need to focus on muscle mass over the entire body it's critical not to just walk or run but also to do resistive exercise for your upper body. For me, a quick and easy approach is to do 25-50 classic push-ups a day. Shouldn't take more than five minutes but you will feel the results over time. A benefit of push-ups is that they can be done in the air conditioning and they will work equally well. 

A week is 168 hours so it seems reasonable to spend less than 10% of that time having fun, getting exercise, hanging out with exuberant people, keeping body weight constant, and keeping one's blood pressure low. I can't guarantee anything but I think being in good shape makes one a better photographer. It certainly keeps your ass from spreading across that chair in front of your computer.

I swam this morning but I'm always up for something mid-day. Ben just came into the office and asked if I had any interest in walking the four mile loop at the lake, downtown. I'm lacing up my walking shoes just as fast as I can.... 

Warm up lanes. USMS Short Course Nationals.


  1. Just back from the hike and bike trail where I was walking with Ben. There's a nice four mile loop and we trudged around the water and through the trees in a bit less than an hour. Nice to walk and catch up. Sometimes I think we don't value our leisure (non-work) time as much as we should.

  2. It's good to see you back to the "real" part of the blog :-). Another reason for weight bearing exercise for people of any age is to maintain or increase bone mass. Exercises such as swimming and cycling are great for a lot of things but maintaining bone mass is not one of them. Occasionally picking up large heavy and awkward objects is good for you. This is the main justification for walking around with ultra-large format camera outfits.

  3. Hi Fred, I only practice photography so I can lift huge cases and haul sandbags back and forth to the car. Gotta think about the ole bone density. Time to break out the 8x10 view cameras.....

    Only problem with a father/son walk is when one of us decides it's time to sprint to the end. (hint: it's not me...).

    Now he feels like we've gotten enough exercise today to deserve a trip to Las Palomas (our favorite Mexican food place). His mom concurs. Only one left out will be Studio Dog...

  4. As I pass 50 years old I am mindful that improvements made now to fitness and its maintenance, will pay off significantly later..

    And yet, while I enjoy swimming I am simply not very good at it. Your posts really amplify the sense in my mind that I really, really need to get some lessons and learn proper technique...

    I wonder if my local pool has any lessons for middle aged guys who never properly learned and just get by?

    Good post, Kirk. Its made me take action.



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