I am finally back in New York City after two weeks in Florida and I am already missing it. Strangely, the thing I am missing the most is not the beach or the palm trees, although both are great, but the opportunity to swim outside. If you are new to Sparkles and Shoes you may not know that I swam competitively for 14 years. Once my college career was over I stayed clear of the pool for six months before I got the urge to get back into the water. Finding a pool in New York City is very tricky and when you do find one, very expensive, therefore I relish the chance to swim outside for free. Besides a suit, these are my swimming essentials:
You have seen the goggles, paddles, and kick board in my swim like you mean it post from two years ago but here is breakdown of my current equipment. My kickboard is one of the only things left over from my swimming days, when I was sponsored by Nike, and the bottom was shaved off years ago by a coach to engage my core – I am not sure it ever worked but it sounds good. My latex cap is the definition of basic and this Christmas I received four of them in my stocking. They are $1.50 and unlike the rest of my swim gear, caps are one product I am not brand loyal, pretty much any latex cap will do.
As far as goggles go my Speedo Vanquishers, have been my go-to goggles since age 12 and if they ever discontinued them I would buy 20 pairs. I used to use two versions of the product – the regular goggles for inside and the mirrored version for outside swimming, however, once backstroke became my stroke I switched to wearing the mirrored goggles all the time.
I have been using these Strokemaker paddles since high school and, in my opinion, they are best. As my hands grew I sized up and I now use the yellow paddles, from the green. Paddles may seems like an odd apparatus to bring to the pool but after two knee surgeries they help take the pressure off my legs for certain periods of time and I heard a great analogy last week – they are flippers for your hands. Unless you are swimmer it is hard to imagine this but you sweat a TON when you are swimming laps. I remember one article I read which stated that swimmers sweat the second most of any athlete, behind runners so it is important to stay hydrated. In high school I tried just about every water bottle on the market until I realized the best kind for swimming are ones where you just squeeze the middle of the bottle and water comes out but when tipped upside down, or if it falls in the pool, no water will spill. True, I am not swimming sets anymore where I only have three seconds at the wall before I have to push off again but they are still my go-to.
The newest addition to my favorites and swimming essentials is my Neptune. After reading countless reviews and quite a bit of research I purchased my Neputne swim MP3 player by FINIS just before Thanksgiving. Between spending Thanksgiving and Christmas down in Florida I have used it ten times and it just gets better and better. As some of you saw on Twitter I am listening to Andre Agassi’s autobiography Open and while it is a fascinating memoir I have to disagree him on one major point – tennis is not the loneliness sport. I am half way through the book and while I understand his analogies when you are swimming you can not hear the fans or have any engagement with your opponent – your head is submerged and it can be very lonely.
If you are a sprinter, like I was, your race will only be a minute or two – a few seconds if you are doing the 50, which is not bad, but for two and three hour practices it is just you and your thoughts. Now that I am “retired” from swimming my thoughts are no longer about how fast I go or how practice will relate to my next race, now I am free to “jam out”, as my dad says, to my favorite tunes. The Neptune is, of course, waterproof and provides great sound in the water without the use of ear buds it simply reverberates on your ear bone. (They should not be on twisted google straps like mine are below, but hey, it is what it is!) I did not receive any compensation from Finis but the Neptune is amazing and even if you swim occasionally, it is a true necessity.
The pool I swim in while in Florida is unusual in a few ways – first, it is 25 meters. Swimming competitively I raced in 25-yard pools (the NCAA distance) or in 50-meter pools (the Olympic distance). Twenty five meters is a very odd length and makes sets on a intervals tricky, as the time needs to be adjusted. This pool is also odd because there are no lane lines but as long as there is a black line down the middle of the pool for freestlye is not a problem. Granted, backstroke is a bit more difficult but looking at palm trees and blue sky instead of a grimy ceiling and florescent lights is a a trade I will take any day:
Who knew I still had this much to say about swimming?