Sunday, October 21, 2007

What? There Are Some Out There Who Don’t Love Backstroke?

Last Monday Hyacks Burnaby had our first backstroke themed workout and Coach Brad followed up with a backstroke based warm up Wednesday – their postings on the board drawing forth a chorus of moans and complaints from my teammates. A backstroker myself I was surprised by the number who said it was their worst stroke. Surprised because we’re all masters swimmers, not the most technical bunch around, and after freestyle our abilities generally take a precipitous dive somewhat akin to our endurance beyond a hundred meters. Still, when I'm on my back swimming yet another 200 I frequently console myself with the fact I could be trying to swim the distance breaststroke or butterfly instead. And those are the only alternatives once you rule out crawl. Perhaps the complaints come from the fact most masters will never see, or more precisely stated, never want to see a workout based on fly or breast. I could well imagine the facial expressions if Brad announced an eight hundred fly set. I can well imagine my own face if he did that! Fly is clearly more difficult to swim than backstroke: so much so most of us older folk have mentally blocked our doing anything significant in butterfly from our thoughts. That leaves the choice between back and breast, and breast is an absolute bitch to swim fast. I admit masters swimming and the concept of fast aren’t exactly synonymous but we masters take the concept of fast to new lows every time we swim breast. Amongst true competitive swimmers breaststroke surely must be the leading contender as least favorite: certainly the coaching community considers it the most technically demanding (knowing my own difficulties with fly I had problems accepting this until I wanted a 'respectable' 100 breaststroke time). Of course there are a few Masters to whom these limitations don't apply. In my lane Doug, Damon and Ian are flyers by choice but they are more than competent in the others. For just one example Ian's much declared hatred for backstroke belies the fact he would be comfortably ranked Top Ten nationally if he ever did swam a backstroke race; his distaste probably stems more from the fact his teenage son can now beat him in the stroke. In Masters merely stating butterfly is your favorite is to declare oneself one of the 'elite'; the stuff of dreams for nearly every serious swimmer older than twenty four. So with two competing strokes like that how can most not love easy and friendly backstroke? Not appreciate the gentle caress of waves flowing overhead, to watch the inverse catenary curve of water trailing from a recovering arm, and performing the simple elegance of a submerged dolphin kick. Makes me think it's time to head off and get some more backstroke practice in. Admittedly I hope I'll do better than last practice when I messed up a turn and took a shot of water up my sinuses. And there was that workout just before when I was inundated by three freakish waves in a row and left half drowned. You know, when I start thinking about it...

Would you seriously consider swimming this instead?


Peter said...




'Nuff said!

Joe said...

I'm with you. I'd rather do a long backstroke before a breastroke or fly set. Actually, I told Brad we should do more backstroke. It's actually very relaxing and you can breath all you want.