Long Slow Surf: Swimming
October 3, 2012

One month into a one month course on swimming this much I know, I am a three stroke, same side breather. Awesome. I also know I am taking another month of lessons but we’ll get to that in a minute.

When I started writing about this adventure I mentioned my physical therapist’s ‘suggestion’ that I get a kick board to use during laps. He didn’t elaborate on the value of using a kick board and I didn’t ask what they might be. Rather, I dismissed the whole idea as boring (read: not the ‘suggestion’ I wanted to hear) and promptly forgot about it. Then the lessons started. Night one of my first round of swimming lessons began with, you guessed it, an introduction to the kick board and it’s uses in swimming practice. Perfect.

Turns out, that amongst other things the kick board when used during laps is a great way to work on ‘the core’ muscle groups. My core is awful. Always has been, actually, to be fair it is much improved thanks to my Muay Thai workouts but still…weak. So, she (my swim instructor), had me at core. Ever used a kick board during laps? It is a lot of work and not a lot of movement. In fact, if you’re not conscious of your kicks you will likely be moving backward. Awesome. In the days after lessons started and practicing began in earnest it was not lost on me how much further along my core and thus my swimming would be if I had taken the DIRECTION of starting with a kick board back in July. Whoops.

Got my first board!!!! Kick board, anyway. My ‘lazy’ swimming practices have been replaced in the last month with some measure of discipline. I bought my very own kick board, worked out my personal comfort regarding side breathing and learned my stroke count. These basic understandings of swimming and swimming practices have altered my time spent in the pool, dramatically. Laps are switched off between kick boarding and free style. Hell, lap lengths have gone from swimming the width of the pool to swimming the length. All that in four weeks.

The last month spent in lessons not only served to re-instill fundamental swimming practices for me but also brought to the forefront a few elements of this ‘surfing adventure’ that will need to be engaged sooner rather than later. I say surfing because that is the ‘end game’ but I am fully aware that the specific elements that I am engaging today are about swimming, what’s at hand are equipment, suits, weather and still more training.

Equipment

Not only did this one month of swim lessons warrant the purchasing of a kick board but also in short order my first set of goggles. These buys may seem innocuous enough but as it happens equipment purchases get pretty complicated pretty quickly. Goggles: The pair I have are Swedish style and ideal for the pool. They’re not going to cut it in open water. Just google ‘open water swimming goggles’ the 4 billion blogs, lists, rankings and reviews that comes up is staggering. And, that’s just goggles! My next purchase will likely not be goggle related at all as I already know that I need a swim cap. A swim cap! (<–Ew.) Google that shit, too. Geez-a-loo.

The point above is this, I will be negotiating a myriad of equipment purchases from open water goggles to wet suits to bigger boards in fairly short order and the task is daunting.

Suits

Swimming suits should probably come under equipment but they don’t, not really. Not yet. For now, it’s like this, there is nothing particularly functional about any of the fashionable suits I own while doing laps. NOT EVEN the one piece. As a result, sport suits have just hit my radar  and present their own path to be negotiated. Swim suits lead directly to water wear in general, it’s not all about ‘suits,’ people. These all lead to wet suits…

Weather

Wet suits lead to weather. It is October. October begs the question, are you really going to start open water swimming in the winter?????? It is possible here in the South lands but is it a good idea? I’m thinking not. I’m thinking open water swimming is on delay until the spring. Maybe by then I will have figured out which goggles and which wet suit to wear! Between now and then, I think (<–at this moment) I’m staying in the pool.

The Next Right Step

October brings with it another month of lessons. This months lessons are not meant to focus on swimming basics, well…not swimming pool basics. I have figured out through a ton of reading that there are a couple of open water basic skills that I will need to work on in a pool. First among them, dolphin diving. Second, sighting. To that end, I have signed up for another month with directions. After that, I have located a local pool that offers several hours of lane use day or night through out the week, year round. I will be getting a pass there to continue working on swimming skills during the late Fall and Winter.

Not to worry though, the ocean and boards are in my immediate future. I have resolved to spend more time paddle boarding in the coming months. If you have not paddle boarded, do. For me there is a tranquility in paddle boarding that I find in fairly short order upon paddling out. So much so that it begs the question, why do I wait so long between paddling days? Why?

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The Art of Surfing: Paintings & Prints
September 26, 2012

One of the cool things about taking an interest in surfing is that the activity itself comes with an entire culture built around it, ranging from a huge pro-am athletic component to niche equipment builders, clothing, language, spirituality and everything in between. For a nerd like me that leaves a ton of room to explore! As stated in an earlier post books got me to surfing but they may not be the best art the culture has to offer…

Hands down, one of the coolest elements of surf culture that I have encountered thus far is the art work. For the purposes of this post, I will narrow the “art” I have found to paintings or prints, specifically. Surf photography is a world unto itself, as is board designs, surf sculptures and so on I’m not dismissing those by any means I’m just taking this adventure very slow.

Drew Brophy

Disclaimer: I have no skills as an artist or as an art critic. I am not educated in the vernacular or the methodology and I have no plans to be. Accordingly, the pieces posted on here are here because I dig them, period. That said, the first prints that caught my attention (and made me smile) were the ones I encountered by Drew Brophy. Whatever his style may be called I think of it as surf graffiti art. It pops! His pieces are vibrant and frenetic, fun and inspiring. The one above, in particular, places a picture perfect swell, golden local and the entire cosmos in accord an idea that whether true or not is wonderful.

Phil Roberts

When I first saw some of Phil Roberts pieces, it wasn’t JUST the turtle that sold me. Though, it is worth noting, I am obsessed with turtles. Have been most of my life, no plans to rein it in either. Love turtles. The turtle DOES make this my favorite Roberts piece but what I dig about his art is the realism. It may be the polar opposite of Drew Brophy’s fantastical art but it still strikes awe in me. Like Brophy’s, the painting above combines a perfect swell, a golden local, and (I would argue) the cosmic alignment. Though, in the case of Roberts painting the cosmos is not represented in ‘the great out there’ night sky but rather it is in the foreground where the turtle conveys ‘the great out there.’ <—You don’t even know, turtles are ancient bad asses.

Speaking of realism….

Fernanda O’Connell

Fernanda O’Connell’s wave paintings are unbelievable. I can only imagine, what with my no art skills, that it is her use of light  and color that makes the waves in her work:  a.) look like they are in motion; and b.) look like waves. About that b, having just spent weeks and weeks obsessing over them and so staring at the water for extended periods of time, it turns out that waves are a myriad of colors…erm, all at once. EVERY wave. Not just in the aqua heaven that is the tropic but out there in the plain old Pacific, too. What’s more, the way the light moves through waves is etherial. Too, much? Stunning. Transcendant. Uniquely beautiful. O’Connell’s paintings reflect the qualities of waves which make them ‘magical,’ color and light in motion.

Drew Brophy

SEE!! Even Drew Brophy depicts sea creatures as representatives of ‘the great out there’ sometimes!

There ya have it, these are a few of my favorite surf prints.