- My Kind of Exercise
Outside, waiting to be tucked in next to the deck we are slowly constructing, sits a lap pool. still in wraps. The big blue shape will sit there for some weeks still to come. We could set it up just anywhere (the manufacturer assures us that an experienced pool putter-upper can put one together in thirty minutes!), but that is not the dream we have been dreaming. We dream it abutted to our deck, screened with an attractive wood barrier to keep neighbors’ children and neighbors’ eyes out. We dream it as My Element, as pool water has been nearly all my life, starting when I was about three years old.
Look back to about 1939…
The device pictured below is called a Bradford Frame, and it is designed to keep polio victims from moving! This was the prevailing treatment when I got it at about 2 years of age. I swam to escape from this sort of thing.
How Polio was treated in 1938
“Huffy” was a wise physician who had cared for our family who had studied the work of one Sister Kenny in Australia, who was having good success in rehabilitating limbs afflicted by Infantile Paralysis by using gradual movement therapy, starting with gentle massage, and working up to exercises that build up muscle. “Huffy” lobbied my parents and my other doctors to allow her to try these techniques on my legs, after months that made it clear that the Bradford Frame would not improve my condition.
After I got back up on my feet ( and I did! ) my exercise progressed to tricycle riding to relearning how to walk, to roller skates, and then to swimming.
My swimming progressed from being a little fish to being a competitive swimmer. By the age of seven i was winning in swimming events with girls much older than I was. It was the legs, not the upper body that gave me my edge in competitive swimming. I had, and still have, enormously powerful leg muscles, and good flappy feet on the ends of those legs, and right through my competitive swimming career I could beat anyone in “kicks” , including the big boys, propelling a kickboard through the water during swimming practice.
My strongest stroke was backstroke and I have a big box of blue ribbons and gold medals from my youth through my senior year of high school to remind me of this.
Unlilke Dara Torres, I did not continue into my adulthood, nor did I ever look like this
<<<<….Torres News Item snippet
As you see from this news item, she is doing very well.
Look up Old Swimmer on Google and see all the references to this woman’s olympic feats!
Of course this is not me! I am a VERY old swimmer. (Look on my Table of Contents for a True Story item called “70”
I retired at 18 from competitive swimming because I wanted to do so many other things, including my art, my college classes, socializing some, and just having a sort of balanced life rather than living to the tune of swimming practice sessions all the time.
But to be submerged in up to the earlobes — yes, that is me in My Element!
My stroke of choice these days is what we used to call “orthodox” breaststroke, as opposed to “butterfly” in which the arms come up out of the water and the “dolphin kick” is used. My kind of breaststroke is with a good strong “frog kick” and Esther Williams type arm strokes that allow my nose to be pretty much out of the water at least half the time. I love to feel the water parting in front of my chin as I surge forward each stroke.
In my lap pool there will be a tether sort of thing to keep me from getting anywhere, so the pool only has to be short and adequately deep and wide for a proper stroke. I can hardly wait. I will be in that pool a LOT, I know, and because of the serenity of swimming, the long long stretching motions of the breaststroke, and the lovely challenge to my still muscular legs, I will get the kind of exercise my body was built on, thanks to “Huffy.”
Now you know why I call myself old swimmer.
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