t h e i n t i m a t e s t r a n g e r

Archive for January, 2014

I am a shark

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“Most swimmers lose time by losing momentum unnecessarily after hitting the water following their dive.

Kicking underwater after the dive should be fast, strong and explosive — do not glide! The glide kills momentum and loses time.

Kick into your first stroke (breakout stroke) with speed and power — hitting the surface like a great white shark hitting its prey.

~ Wayne Goldsmith, Swim Coaching Brain


Written by The Intimate Stranger

January 23rd, 2014 at 9:06 pm

The wisdom of age

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“When I was young, I was a natural athlete, but undisciplined. In my prime the pressure of performing up to other people’s expectations sometimes got the better of me. Now that I was older, I felt capable of making the most of my talent — focusing more when I was in the pool, and taking better care of my body. Age, for me, was a positive factor. Physically I felt strong, and mentally I was more mature.”

~ Dara Torres, on her second comeback at 33, 8 years later.


Written by The Intimate Stranger

January 18th, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Posted in i am dolphin

Finish what you started

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“A big part of the motivation to swim in the Olympics again was feeling as though I had been mentally unprepared in the 1984 and 1988 Games…

When, in 1991, I decided to train for the Olympics again, I didn’t consciously think that I had unfinished business in the pool. I just knew I wanted to swim again. I missed competition. I missed the speed. I missed the focus. I missed funneling thousands of miles of training into one or two lengths of the pool…

I knew I could swim faster than I had in the 1988 Olympic Games.”

~ Dara Torres


Unfinished business. Nod sagely :-)

* * *


Some of us have our quiet moments by the side of the pool. Resting in between laps. Staring ahead at nothing. Savouring the coolness against heated skin. Breathing a little harder perhaps. Waiting for the burn to fade. Getting ready to push into the pale blue again.

I don’t mind my lone trips to the pool. I got used to it after a while, focusing instead on the laps I wanted to cover, correcting strokes, committing movements to muscle memory, recovering by the poolside, catching my breath. Rinse and repeat. Small talk is fine. Talking half the time is not. I’m here to swim. Not to get pruned for nothing and catch a chill.

Other regular swimmers generally don’t talk to me. Ok fine, maybe a few tried but it’s hard to make meaningful eye contact when I am determined to stare ahead at nothing while resting in between laps.

But over time, people realised I didn’t just have one facial expression. Ha. Ha. And fine, I did start acknowledging familiar faces — the lifeguards — with a smile or a wave. Also, as my training picked up and my swims got stronger, people noticed and a few would engage me briefly — mostly women, strangely (or maybe not, hmmm) — with passing compliments and the lifeguards offered a few tips.

I first noticed The Princeling a few months ago. He always swam with his friend and almost every evening. And then he started to work on his butterfly. I knew he/they often looked over and once speculated if I was just a very dark-skinned Chinese (ha ha), but I was becoming a Master at Staring Ahead at Nothing While Resting in Between Laps.

Eventually though, keeping my head and neck in a fixed spot was putting a strain on my shoulders, and I decided to at least acknowledge their presence/attempts and also offer a few butterfly tips. The Princeling beat me to it though, and when I finally looked him in the face, I was really glad that he was kinda cute. Grin. A while later, I realised that we actually had a brief exchange some months earlier when he lost his goggles in the pool and asked to borrow mine so he could look for them. I spotted the goggles from where I was and retrieved them for him instead. And I gave him a dirty look and turned away. Ok fine, I need to stop scaring people away.

Since then, we’ve continued our brief exchanges at the pool, mostly to help tweak his butterfly. I also started to work more on mine. Then, just for fun, I invited him to race the fly — much to his trepidation of losing to a woman in front of everyone. But he accepted and touched home about half a second ahead. Heh. And then I thrashed him soundly in the free. Heh. Heh. Though he initially expressed disinterest in learning to swim faster, he has been the one asking to race since that ‘experiment’. It’s fun getting someone hooked :-)

It’s strange but I was just thinking of inviting The Princeling to join the Saturday swim classes. Again, he beat me to it and asked about the effectiveness of the classes I’ve been attending. So he might join. Or not. What’s this about having a problem committing to classes and showing up regularly and at fixed times? Youngest child syndrome? Sigh.

What also surprised me tonight was the casual mention of the ongoing art exhibition at MBS, and the somewhat tentative offer of free tickets. I think he was also caught off-guard that I went along with the conversation so nonchalantly. But we’ll see. He still needs to get the ticket to me ;-)


Written by The Intimate Stranger

January 16th, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Better late than never

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“I also wanted to prove to the world that you don’t have to put an age limit on your dreams, that the real reason most of us fear middle age is that middle age is when we give up on ourselves.”

~ Dara Torres, first American swimmer to have competed in 5 Olympic Games, the last when she was 41 and a mother

Hence the recent trend of people suddenly becoming marathoners/ biathletes/ cyclists as they approach or hit middle age. Of course, having a ready community of like-minded middle-agers helps a lot too.

Oh, if only to feel young again.

Oh, if only to feel alive again.


Written by The Intimate Stranger

January 13th, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Posted in i am arian,words


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It’s been 2 years since N’s house party.

I’ll’d like to think no one looks too different, except for the fact that everyone’s significantly ‘under-dressed’ this time. Cough. Heh.

* * *


There is no liking like¬†liking obviously — as opposed to quietly or secretly, or worse, less, because you are not sure about yourself (your likes, your dislikes, yourself as a person) and/or what others might think.

For one, liking obviously is a very pleasant experience and hopefully for the object of liking too. But yes, I do believe it was very pleasant for him too ;-)

Not so much for N, but at least he’s stopped the touchy-feely-every-chancy territory-marking very quickly. Ha.


Written by The Intimate Stranger

January 12th, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Back to the grind

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Shoulders and back are sore from all the butterflying and IM work over the past few weeks. So, no pool action for 1 to 2 days while I recover — though it won’t be a complete rest since I’ll be going for yoga classes to stretch out the body and do some cross-training for flexibility and core strength.

But I’ve made some progress and can now swim the 50m fly, 200m and 100m IM more comfortably — aesthetics is another matter, ha ha. My distance freestyle is also improving, and I don’t get breathless as much. I’ve tweaked my breathing pattern to gain greater control over my breath, and am thus able to relax more and focus on correcting my strokes and swimming longer.

The Mastering Swimming book I recently picked up has helped in many areas. Swimming is not just about the stroke. Having a keen water sense or an intimate feel for the water is also essential. Being able to relax (as opposed to fighting the water), breathe naturally and easily, and having good balance and streamlining to reduce resistance, will help one to swim better. There are also very useful tips on physical conditioning and planning workouts, such as setting shorter-term goals which will help to track progress while working towards the bigger long-term goals; varying workouts to allow for different intensities and sufficient time to recover; cross-training (flexibility and core strength — hallooo abs!!) which also helps to break the monotony and keeps one going; and most important of all, recovery periods.

Certainly, as I ramp up pool workouts to 40 laps each time (which is only less than half of what competitive swimmers do per session and they train twice a day), I’ll have to be more disciplined about committing to weekly yoga sessions and backing off at least 1 day a week to allow the body to recover.

New year, new goals, new races :-)


Written by The Intimate Stranger

January 6th, 2014 at 12:34 am

Posted in uncategorised