The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Why Are There Different Strokes for Different Folks?

As I mentioned before, I joined a gym, and the main purpose of joining was to be able to swim to my heart's content. When I joined, I got two free sessons with a personal trainer, and I elected to do my personal training in the pool. At my second session, we did different swim strokes. The one that I found particularly confusing was the side stroke. I've swam sideways here and there for as long as I can remember. My version of the side stroke involves basically doing the doggy paddle at a slant. Little did I know that I was supposed to be scissoring my legs in rhythm with my arms, and oh my, it was confusing.

Today I was at the pool, just sort of floating around (it's not a pool with lanes for doing laps), and I tried half-heartedly to do the leg scissor thing of the side stroke, just for fun. I still can't really get it all to work out right. And it got me thinking: why are there different swimming strokes anyway? Why isn't there just the best one/fastest one? I assume that would be free style.

Actually, I'm willing to make room for two types of swim strokes. I'll allow the doggy paddle, too. That's what kids (and most grown-ups) do naturally. But do we really need the side stroke? The back stroke? The breast stroke? The butterfly? And who came up with these? Especially the butterfly. That is the most bizarre looking mode of swimming ever. What purpose does it possibly serve?

Think about it. Some guy (or woman) had to come up with the butterfly. First, I'm going to hoist my shoulders up out of the water, then pull my arms around and dunk my head under the water, and at the same time, I'm going to throw my ass in the air, then slam my crotch down into the water, throwing my head back up to start the process all over again. Yeah! That's cool! It just baffles me. I can sort of see the side stroke and the back stroke being created. Hey, let me see how fast I can go swimming sideways (or on my back). But the butterfly? Why, dear lord, why?

But even the side stroke and the back stroke are a bit confusing. Or their world wide acceptance is, at least. I mean, you do see people running sideways in the Olympics? Or backwards? And why not? It doesn't make sense. The goal is to be the fastest. PERIOD. Not the fastest going sideways or the fastest going backwards. I'm sure some idiots out there have had running races where people ran sideways or backwards, but it's just for a joke. These aren't events sanctioned by the NCAA. So how did swimming work all these wacky ways of swimming into local and international events?

Just curious.