Thursday, September 28, 2006

My First Coach Archie McKinnon

There was a radio program on the air which would talk about some nondescript individual’s early life and tribulations and then go to the commercial break with the words, “and then we’ll come right back … to the rest of the story”. Anybody remember that? The program’s catch was every time this struggling person turned out to be someone who had a real impact on our world. So here’s my personal “The Rest of the Story”.

I clearly remember joining my first swim club when, at the age of five, my father took me down to the local Victoria YMCA to join the Flying Y Swim Club. I walked through the YMCA holding my father’s hand, descended into the basement, and then walked along the side of the YMCA’s dimly lit pool into an office off the pool deck. There, rising up from a desk upon our entry, was an old, white haired man who was reaching out at the same time to shake my father’s hand. As they stood hands still clasped Dad said something to the effect of, “Mr. McKinnon, I’d like my son to join your swim team”, and that was the start of my swimming career. Archie McKinnon was my coach for almost a year, and can I still picture him walking up and down poolside and calling out to various swimmers to stop, and then correcting their stroke technique right then and there while they floated in the middle of the pool. Archie, or as I would address him, “Sir” (for that was the way little boys talked to adults in my day) was always soft spoken, treated everyone equally, and spent considerable time teaching me (by far the youngest on the team) the various strokes. Simply put Archie McKinnon wanted everyone to be the very best he could be and he had a superb talent for bringing it out. A strong Christian, his philosophy on sport was best summed up by a quote of his, “Cherish the medals but always keep in mind that they don’t represent the be all and end all of sport; the real thing of value is the sweat and work that went into it” - something I have carried close to my heart ever since. One evening he asked me to wait for him after I changed and then he accompanied me up front to meet my father. There in the lobby McKinnon talked to Dad about the Flying Y’s not being a place for serious swimmers any more, of his retirement some years back and his upcoming resignation as the team’s coach, and then told father he thought it was time for me to move on. So that’s what I did; and with not a backward glance I joined the Victoria Amateur Swim Club, or as they were known then, the “Vic Os” (Victoria Olympians).

Archie McKinnon, 1896 - 1984

And now for the rest of the story… it was with considerable surprise when I heard in 1975 the University of Victoria’s new multisports complex was going to be named the McKinnon Building after my one-time coach, but I was even more stunned to learn the reason why. The old, white haired man who had coached me over a decade earlier had also coached Canadians at four Olympic Games in two different sports: the 1932 Los Angeles, 1948 London, and 1952 Helsinki Games for swimming; and the 1936 Berlin Games for track. From 1930 to 1962 my local YMCA from backwater, small town Victoria had placed at least one athlete in track or swimming, and often more, on every Olympic and Commonwealth team Canada fielded. Included amongst his many honors was being a long time inductee into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. And I never knew – because nobody told me. I was quite possibly the last person he taught to swim. I realize now father had brought me to the YMCA at such a tender age because he wanted me to know and be taught by a man my father had come to respect as his own coach. For that I’ll be always grateful. And so now you know … the rest of the story.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Suffering for the Sport

With my fly ‘in progress’ I turned my attentions last night to learning the ‘new’ backstroke turn. When I swam competitively the rules for backstroke forbade any movement off the back while swimming the stroke. This meant using what is called the open turn (still used in racing the individual medley), which is in reality more of a ‘swivel-turn’, where the swimmer first touches the wall on reaching in, rotates bringing the feet around to the wall, and then pushes off, all the while remaining on his or her back. Now a much more efficient and safer turn is allowed called the rollover turn. For this turn the swimmer rolls over onto his or her front just before the wall and makes the normal flip turn, and then pushes off the wall on their back. The problem I have is when I’m coming off the wall on my back after the flip turn. If you’re swimming crawl you leave the wall on your front and natural air pressure pretty well prevents any water coming up your nose with only a snort of air exhaled during the actual flip, but when you’re on your back… well, that pressure isn’t there. The first few times it felt like somebody had stuck a water hose up my nose. Coach Brad told me to breathe out through my nose during the entire turn, but I’ve always expelled most of my air during the flip; now apparently I have to ration it! Too much air expelled too early means I run out of air to force out my nose, and too little means insufficient pressure – and either way spells disaster! To add insult to injury Brad then observed my streamlining coming out of the turn was poor and instructed me to bring my head back in line with my body rather than holding it up. Fool that I am I actually listened to him and discovered when you get a lot of water up the sinuses your eyes will hurt too (probably bulging out with pain)! Well, this isn’t something you practice for very long at any one time. I figure if I try the turn a half dozen times at the end of each practice I should be able to perform the turn without drowning in time for our first swim meet. Let’s cross our fingers!

I also tried out my knee today, when this morning I took my dog out for his morning constitutional and, seeing him waiting for me on the corner to start running, I realized I had unconsciously put on my running gear before going out (Tuesday morning = run). Since I was dressed for it I decided to give it a try but it took less than half a block to cancel any plans for running in the near future. So I finished the walk with my dog bouncing up and down trying to remind me we had a run scheduled. Sorry about that Kaz.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Admitting One’s Limitations

Last night’s practice didn’t start out as well as I would have wished, and it progressively worsened over the course of the evening. I was tired after the warm up, but that isn’t unusual for me. Since day one in January when I started back at swimming I consistently misjudge my swimming speed and stamina for the first few laps. Then, as the reality I haven’t swum for the past thirty five years hits home, I slow down to a more reasonable pace, collect my breath, and continue on. Except I couldn’t collect my breath last night. I knew I was in trouble when the set following the warm up was in my favourite backstroke, and I still found myself struggling just to complete it within the given splits. The rest of the workout was a disaster as I finished neither the supplementary set nor the main set which followed and had to twice pull over to let Ian and Darcy pass me. Previously I could keep up by reaching into my reserves and just pushing myself harder to keep up, but after several days of working at 90+% there’s nothing left in the tank to call upon. It’s time to admit Lane 6 is simply too fast for me right now. Next practice I drop down a couple of lanes. I’ll work up from there.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My Early Swimming Career & Crystal Gardens

I can’t say I was the natural water baby Canadian Sis was but my father made the effort to get me used to playing in our bathtub and then followed it up by teaching me the basics in a neighbor’s pool. By four I had started formal swimming lessons downtown at the Crystal Gardens pool, a city landmark dating back to the mid-twenties, and it was discovered there that I could swim better than most, going through two or three levels a session until I ran out of levels to take. So at the tender age of five my father took me down to the local YMCA he belonged to and with permission enrolled me into the Flying Y’s swim club as their youngest member. At the YMCA I trained, learned the competitive strokes, and participated in my first swim meets. Less than a year later, however, at a more acceptable age of six I found myself back at the Crystal Gardens pool as the newest addition to the largest swim club on the Island – the Victoria Olympians or “Vic O’s”, which belonged to the Victoria Amateur Swimming Association. This club (now competing under the name of Island Swimming) has been, and continues to be, one of the premier swim clubs in the country for over ninety years. For the rest of my swimming career the Vic O’s would be my home. Let me tell you about our pool back then, for it was no ordinary pool.

The Crystal Gardens, inspired by the famous Crystal Palace built for London’s 1851 Great Exposition and the Palm House at Kew Gardens, was covered by a roof of iron and glass, with a ballroom at one end and a dance/exhibition hall at the other, all connected by wide promenades strewn with palm trees. For many years it was claimed to be the largest indoor saltwater pool in the Empire, if not the world, and from the twenties through to the fifties the Crystal Gardens was one of the centers of social life in the city. In 1925 Johnny Weissmuller of Tarzan fame set a 100 yard freestyle world indoor record in the pool, swimming the distance in 51.4 seconds.

The British Columbia Archives has several pictures of the Crystal Gardens on its website, including
  • Exterior view of Crystal Gardens
  • Crystal Gardens Cafe
  • Exhibition Hall View of Pool
  • Ballroom View of Pool

  • By the time I showed up, however, the pool’s glory days were long past. The use of salt water, all the rage back in the twenties as a health treatment, had been quietly set aside in the fifties in favour of fresh water, but the corrosive effects of the salt had done their damage. The pool was in a state of disrepair, peeling paint and cracked tiles everywhere, and a roof which leaked in a myriad of places. But all these things could be easily ignored by a six year old. What I couldn’t ignore was how cold the water was, water so cold it was often warmer in between sets to get out of the pool rather than cling to the sides. I remember days when I’d be sitting shivering poolside holding my feet out of the water while rain dripped down on our heads, all the while trying to listen to our coach give instructions for the next set (swimming the Crystal Gardens in the summer was wonderful though, when the sun lit up the pool so it sparkled and the heat made getting into the water enjoyable). Despite the conditions and sometimes cold I had considerable success swimming, and when my sister Canadian Sis joined me a year later she, too, became a noted swimmer. In 1971 the Club departed the soon to be closed Gardens and moved to the new Crystal Pool, a modern (and much warmer) fifty meter pool. Alas, despite the move all was not well with me. While as a child I might have been skinny, after the age of ten I failed to gain weight even though I continued to grow. By the time I was ready to enter grade eight I was nearly 175 cm (5’10”) and weighed only 44½ kg (98 lbs). My competitiveness of course suffered, going from once a top ranked swimmer nationally as a 10&U to a swimmer who could be confident of making only the backstroke finals, and certainly not medal in them. It did not seem to help my spirits that my local competition, individuals such as Steven Pickell, Ian McVay, Doug Portelance, and William Geddes, represented the cream of my age group in the country. The final blow to my swimming career came with my father’s death a few months after the Club started swimming at the new pool. The sport so closely associated with my dad had become burdensome and, after being suspended from the club for a week after failing to get in the water at an early morning practice, I left swimming – a decision which has never caused me regret. Life moves on, new experiences beckon, etc., etc. You know what I mean.

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    Learning to Swim Butterfly

    Amongst swimmers butterfly (fly) is the most highly regarded stroke – it’s the most beautiful and difficult of the strokes as well as one of the fastest. Swimmers will have our favourite (generally our most competitive) but if you asked them which stroke they would prefer being best in if they could choose I’d have to say 90% of us would pick fly. Because it's so damn wonderful when done right! The problem is the stroke requires healthy doses of both strength and technique. It also needs a certain minimum speed for the body to lift itself out of the water, otherwise the technique reverts to something much more like breaststroke (from which it developed). That means a novice trying to learn has to sprint to clear the surface up but, failing to possess the necessary technique to swim efficiently, is forced to rely entirely on his or her strength. Most exhausting and impossible to sustain for long. You see this happening all the time during public swims at your local pool. Someone starts to swim fly, manages to pull half a dozen or so strokes and then stops. They stop because they’ve destroyed themselves with all the effort of trying to lift themselves out of the water. Now consider what it would be like to swim fly for 100 meters, or God forbid, 200 meters (in masters swimming apparently the two races with the least participation are the 200 meter fly, and the 400 individual medley – a race which starts off with 100 meters fly and then graciously allows you to race the remaining three strokes with whatever you have left. Quelle surprise!) You need proper technique to swim fly, but you have to swim in order to learn the technique, a classic “chicken or the egg” dilemma.

    The answer to this conundrum is coaching … professional coaching. First the proper double dolphin kick and arm stroke are taught and learned independently and only then integrated together using a series of drills. Once this is accomplished the complete stroke is then nursed along with the assistance of swim fins (to provide supplemental power) until, finally, the swimmer is able to swim a reasonable fly for short distances unassisted. From there it’s practice, correction, more practice, some more correction, and still more practice. What’s my butterfly like? Well as a child I didn’t race fly except in the individual medley, so it was never a priority for me. Practically speaking I can see now it didn’t make sense for my coaches to spend any real time teaching me fly until I started putting some meat on my bones and could actually compete in the stroke (the teaching technique for fly when I was learning was the "throw 'em in and let 'em sort it out" variety). So I developed a fly based almost entirely on my upper body strength with a single dolphin kick. And that’s was the stroke I brought with me when I returned to the pool. I told Canadian Sis about my attempts at fly and she couldn’t believe it, “you’re kicking backwards” she laughed. She was right for. Despite my best efforts I was kicking my single dolphin when my arms were in recovery and essentially driving myself under water. It was like swimming fly with the brakes on. With Coach Brad’s help I’m showing slow progress and can look forward to that day when, some months or years from now, everything will come together and I’ll finally learn fly … in a fashion. Until then I’ll struggle along with my drills such as that cursed Pablo drill, which makes me look like a hopelessly flailing spastic - clearly the great American flyer Pablo Morales was far more coordinated than I.

    Picture of Mary T. Meagher, aka "Madame Butterfly", the most dominant butterflyer in swimming history

    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    My Plans

    Well, a week of practices under my belt. To my surprise I’m enjoying the practices considerably more than I had hoped for, have lots of new things to learn, found I like my new teammates, and discovered Coach Brad clearly knows more about swimming than I do (thank God!). Plus I like to compete – and my competitive nature likes this environment. All to the good if I’m to gain my desired twelve kilos of muscle to bring myself back to where I was in my mid to late thirties. If I can add muscle at half the rate I could as a younger man this means my restoration project will take about full two years. Rather a long haul for serious effort without some incentives/objectives to target along the way, and swimming can provide that in spades. My big problem is swimming through tax season (as I’m a tax accountant) when normal practice dictates my living and sleeping taxes for about four straight months. Can I do it? And then I’ve also started up this blog (I must really be insane). I’ll find out one way or another won’t I? To begin with I’m just going to do the first half of the season to the end of December and then see how I feel about continuing. This will entail upping my present three practices a week to six per week before the start of 2007, all while continuing on with my dry land exercises unabated. I suppose that’s at least possible and a realistic first target.

    By the way, I talked to Coach Brad and learned our Ian is not the same person I swam against, oh so long ago, but Brad did give out some of Ian’s times for my edification. He’ll be a splendid substitute for McVay! Having someone in the next lane who’s absolutely destroying you in workouts provides the very best in incentives to work harder!

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Hyack Masters Swim Club

    The Hyack Swim Club is a good example for a competitive swim club. It has several different programs with all the necessary ancillary programs for its swimmers, going from development to elite where senior national/Olympic team members train, plus a couple of programs for adult swimmers – masters swimming and triathlon. The team’s head coach Mark Bottrill is a full-time professional coach with Olympic coaching experience, and he directs the swimming program through some dozen or so other coaches (at least one being full-time as well) giving instruction at three different pools. The Club hosts four meets and is considered to be a major swim club in Canada. The Hyacks take their competitive swimming program very seriously, but I get the distinct feeling the Club takes their masters program less so (perhaps there’s a government subsidy for master swim programs? Could it possibly be profitable?). For example Masters uses all the available pools (quite understandable and welcome) but strangely the team registered with the Provincial Masters Swimming Association as three different teams (Hyacks, Hyack Coquitlam, and Hyack Triathlon). This clearly isn’t efficient administratively, and it also prevents Hyacks fielding masters relay teams comprising swimmers from all three. Nor is this an inadvertent administrative glitch. Incredibly to my mind there are no provisions for attending practices at any other pool except the pool a swimmer originally signed up with, and there is absolutely no coordination of practice times. Right now each masters swim team practices three times a week, a training level perfectly adequate for general fitness but grossly insufficient if one wishes to actually compete in the sport (I’d have to say one would need a minimum of six practices a week to be competitive, more would be better). But both Bonsor and Coquitlam teams swim on the same day at virtually the same time, so the possibility of swimming both pools is eliminated from the start. No better for the two masters triathlon teams, which practice mostly long course (i.e. fifty meters) three times a week in the mornings at CCAC (Coquitlam) and twice at Canada Games Pool but, again, two of the three mornings are the same day and time. And I was stunned to learn neither masters swim teams, despite Hyacks having access to two long course pools, practice long course until the season is over! Consequently it seems most of the Club’s best swim on their own to get in the necessary mileage and individuals such as Vladimir, a world-class masters swimmer, who's rarely ever seen at practices. I can understand why. Some changes are in order but it will take someone actually rolling up their sleeves and wading in to tackle them, assuming they are doable at all. I’ll have to think about that.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    First Practice

    Yesterday was my first practice with Hyack Masters. The Hyack website was out of date and presenting last year’s information but, on the assumption things wouldn’t change much from year to year, I showed up at Bonsor Pool on the second Monday at the time posted and was rewarded as it was indeed the first night back from their summer break. So I signed up for the first half of the season (postdated cheques returned with one month’s notice) and got ready to swim. Coach Brad set out the times for each lane and, after seeing the fastest lane had only two swimmers, I told myself, “I can do that!” and slotted myself there. For those who haven’t been in a swim club swimmers are divided into lanes of varying abilities, each with different splits to make and sometimes even different workouts. Then each lane is further parsed by having the fastest swimmer lead off followed by teammates of ever declining speed. This has the advantage of allowing many swimmers of varying abilities to use the same pool without interfering with each other, but when I was swimming as a child this ‘pecking’ order was fiercely contested. There were fights over it (well, hit-and-runs and the occasional partial drowning). So I’ll admit my placing myself there my first practice was not very diplomatic (hopefully Master swimmers, being more mature, are also more forgiving - or maybe they’re just indifferent). I’m afraid later with some hindsight I’ll find it would have been better in all respects if I had joined a middle lane and then moved up but I did make it through tonight’s workout all right. No problem with my knee either. Some observations: 1) we swam almost exclusively sprints – perhaps because people were out of shape, or perhaps because most Master swimmers only swim shorter events, but by golly a lot of sprints. In past swimming remembered practices after summer break were almost exclusively the opposite – lots of endurance work; 2) we did several drills, exercises training specific parts of a stroke or muscle group, while I remember doing virtually no drills (drills were for the extremes – only the highest caliber swimmers (i.e. the ‘Nationals’, our club’s best senior swimmers) or new swimmers (i.e. kids who hadn’t mastered the basics of the four strokes) did drill work to any extent at all. Mileage was the be all, end all back then; 3) the workout was harder than I thought it would be even though I had been doing more meters in my weekly workout (all that speed work was exhausting); and finally 4) the club has several good swimmers, but it has at least one swimmer with talent – the team’s star Ian. Not only is Ian much better than everyone else in the pool, he’s good by competitive swimming standards … which got me to thinking if he could be the same Ian McVay I competed against as a boy. Same physical build, same stature and colouring, and he must be close to my age. If he is then I’m swimming Masters for the long haul because I swore to myself as a child one day, when I finally had some muscles, I’d beat him in something other than backstroke. Of course, I’ll have to find those muscles again .

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    Cross Training

    Throughout life your body is constantly wasting away and rebuilding itself. As we move through our natural cycle we go from starting off in a time where bone and muscle are created without any outward effort (adolescence), move to a period where bone and muscle can only be formed with physical effort (maturity), and then regretfully see even this ability gradually decline to mere maintenance and finally, in our old age, to eventually disappear. By training, and by this I mean the purposeful tearing down of muscles so that they’re rebuilt stronger, we take advantage of our body’s natural tendencies to repair and adapt itself to the demands placed on it. Obviously the operative word here is repair. Too much damage will impair our ability to continue to train effectively (soreness) and can lead to catastrophic failure (injury).

    Athletes at the highest levels, though, have a couple ways to deal with this. The first is to employ ‘split’ training, where training emphasizes and works a specific area and thus allows other areas of the body some time to recuperate. The classic example of this is weight lifting where lifters will work one day on their lower body, and the next day on their upper. Most sports’ aren’t nearly as clear cut or as easily targeted, however, and achieve the desirable segregation by varying workouts using sprints, drills, endurance work, and tempo – all in an effort to allow the training of selected muscles while allowing the others some rest and recovery. It also makes training more interesting . The second approach is to cross train with another discipline. Originally cross training started out solely as a means to recover from injuries; for example an injured runner with a torn calf muscle taking up cycling or swimming while waiting for the calf to fully heal. While the original intent behind the idea was only to allow the athlete some means to maintain fitness coaches’ discovered to their amazement the fully recuperated athletes actually improved in their specialties! Nowadays the concept is so common place we even have a distinct mass participant sport, the triathlon, based upon cross training. For us regular folk cross training is a valuable tool in our fitness armory. A fitness regime including a little running, cycling and swimming naturally provides the ‘split’ training our elite athletes require teams of coaches, trainers, and physios to achieve when narrowed down to a single sport. So get out there!

    Saturday, September 09, 2006

    Running Can Truly Suck

    Today I went for an easy 8k morning jog and ‘tweaked’ myself. A little over one klick into my run I slightly pulled my right vastus medialis, a muscle that wraps around the inside of the knee and keeps the kneecap proper aligned. When it happened I had a hard time believing it – I was, after all, jogging along at an easy seven minute mile pace and had even done some stretching beforehand! A real runner never stretches before a jog; instead he or she will stretch afterwards when they’re warmed up – because an easy run can’t hurt you. You’re simply moving too SLOWLY (like who hurts themselves walking?). But a few more strides confirmed it and I proceeded to walk home. I’m really getting old. This is an annoying injury not only because it hangs around for seemingly forever, but because coaches think … oh heck, they plain out tell you … you’re a ‘wus’ and to stop using the knee as an excuse not to do intervals or any of those other stressful workouts. When I was younger and running seriously I would rest the knee for the day, get some physiotherapy, and then run taped for, oh, about a month, but I don’t have a physio to tape my knee and I’ve never mastered that fine art. So I’m simply not running until it feels better (which you really can only find out by trying it out). But this is OK with me as I’m getting ready to triple my swimming workouts starting in a couple of days anyways. I’ll be plenty tired as it is. This brings up the marvelous benefits of cross training in both rehabilitation and general fitness, something I’ll cover tomorrow.

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Now Don’t be Shocked

    As I said earlier for general fitness I don’t rely at all on my weight, instead I place my trust in the mirror – cuz’ it don’t lie! (Self-delusion and/or drugs, however, are optional and can be an efficient remedy for low self-esteem) So to start things off I’ve taken three pictures of myself in my practice swimsuit to more easily track my physical progress. The first is my back, the second my front, and the third a side view. I’ll take these three pictures every month and so build a reviewable history of my recovery (always be positive).
    My back is definitely the most interesting (if you’re amiable to using that word in conjunction with my pictures) as it shows what a mess a broken back can make of a person’s physique. I have a compression fracture of my L5, the unfortunate result of a winger/fullback trying to play 2nd row (think of a wide receiver trying to play a position combining the duties of defensive & offensive tackles in American football) and a collapsed scrum. So if you draw a straight line down from the top of my spine you’ll see it ends not at my tailbone but over to its left. Yes, I’m 6’3” now but there was a time when I was 6’4”. Of course the body has to compensate for all this confusion and it does so by tilting my upper back over to the right. If you look carefully you can see my right shoulder is lower than my left. I’m working at several exercises which hopefully will help improve my posture (in fact this picture shows real progress from just six months ago) but right now this is where I am.

    Here’s my front picture. The drooping right shoulder is easily seen here – and equally clearly I also need to get more sleep. Other than that what can one say with a picture like this?

    And here’s my side view. If I had any questions on how I could possibly be packing 18 kg. of fat this picture quickly quashes them. Hopefully in a couple of years time people will remember them only in relation to how very far I’ve come in my rehabilitation. Still, I find them a little disturbing. We shall forget these shan’t we?

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Weight and Body Fat

    As I’ve done since the beginning of last year I ‘officially’ weighed myself at the start of each month. My weight … drum roll please… 86.5 kg.(191 lbs.), no change from last month but still, down from a high of 98 kg.(215 lbs.) in early 2005. Not that I place much stock in what I weigh, since I know it’s much more important for a body to look good – exercise’s goal being the body’s overall conditioning, which means muscle in the right places as well as the absence of fat in the wrong places. Unfortunately looking in the mirror both are clearly problems for me. I see a flabby body, and it’s not just that I’m shapeless; it’s just I’m doughy all over. Other relevant adjectives to describe myself would be dumpy, soft, and pudgy (I’m just beating myself up now). Since I’m going to be a competitive athlete again (at least in my mind) I need a better measure of my conditioning, and obtaining my body fat measurement immediately springs to mind. For those who might not be familiar with body fat measurement (BFM) this measurement estimates the percentage of body fat the individual in question carries. So if you’re aiming to lose weight, but your BFM says you’re also losing muscle you’re not just slimming down – you’re either anorexic or exercising too hard without a proper diet. If, on the other hand, you’re seeking to put on weight you’ll be trying, unless you’re into sumo wrestling, to put on muscle rather than fat. BFM is the tool you’ll use to guide your workouts and diet to limit the amount of fat you add. The gold standard of body fat measurement is the hydrostatic test, where you’re lowered into a vat of water, asked to expel all air from your lungs and to hold your breath (?) for several seconds while they take measurements. Obviously all this costs money and consequently, so if you’re not at least a national caliber athlete, this uncomfortable experience (though I’m told this isn’t nearly as unpleasant as having your VO2 max determined) isn’t something you’re likely to experience. Instead, at least when I was running, we’d go to a coach or physio and have our fat measurements determined by calipers (when I restarted exercising after my back injury, and finding myself without a team physio to go to, I discovered they could be had down at the local YMCA for a nominal fee). Several phone calls today, however, established few places have even heard of a BFM. The closest gym which had wanted nearly $75 for it! That wasn’t happening so, after a quick trip to the internet I came up with a site with a body fat test giving a reasonable estimate of body fat using a tape measure. Not perfect, but adequate for my purposes. Entering the requested information such as age (47), height (192 cm. or 6’3”), weight, and sex the site came up with an estimate of 21% body fat for me, or over 18 kg. fat! Ideally I should be half that, which means my true ‘fit’ weight is only around 77.6 kg.(170 lbs.). That is almost down to my running weight over twenty years ago, but with about four kg.(ten lbs.) less muscle! Trust me ladies, that’s not where I want to go! Really, ick comes to mind. I desperately want to put on more muscle and swimming would be a good way to go.