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Swimming dynamics: Winning techniques and strategies

Swimming dynamics: Winning techniques and strategies

Lemley, Scott

“Swimming Dynamics: Winning Techniques and Strategies”

by Cecil M. Colwin. Published by Masters Press (1999), a division of NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group.

Cecil Colwin has coached on three continents and developed world-class swimmers on each. He is a highly respected clinician and noted historian. He is also an author capable of lucid prose, superb insight and delightful wit, and they are all present in his latest book, “Swimming Dynamics: Winning Techniques and Strategies” (385 pages).

The author has produced a work that celebrates 100 years of the joy of swimming. Included in its pages are interviews with the greatest coaches of the 20th century-men such as Doc Counsilman, Forbes Carlile, Arthur Cusack, Sherm Chavoor, Peter Daland, Don Gambril, George Haines, Jim Montrella, Mark Schubert, Gus Stager, Don Talbot, Stan Tinkham and Gennadi Touretski.

Colwin has cultivated an invaluable habit of asking questions of everyone he meets, be they swimmer or coach. From issues centering on the basics of efficient stroke mechanics to the importance of developing the distance base at the right age, Colwin allows us to eavesdrop on many of his conversations with the greatest thinkers in the coaching profession of the last 30 years.

One of the most practical chapters in the book is Chapter 2 (“Swimming Techniques”), which depicts a full stroke cycle of each of the four competitive strokes, including the start and turn associated with each.

Colwin emphasizes that coaches should share ideas and that their discussions should center on seeking different answers to the “right questions.” This is undoubtedly one of the first maxims of intelligent discourse-being able to separate the wheat from the chaff by focusing on the most important issues of the day.

Throughout his book, Colwin gives us concrete methods for making champions. Chapter 4 is devoted entirely to training for and swimming the mile (“Swimming The 1500 Meters: The Blue Ribbon Of Swimming”).

One of the most enjoyable parts of the book for this reviewer was the prologue. In it, Colwin relates his personal experiences with learning to swim. The description of “young Colwin” trying to float on the top of the water is both entertaining and instructive. What was fundamental in learning to swim 60 years ago is as important today: the first law of swimming states that water is always trying to push you out.

This revelation taught Colwin that water both supports him and resists his efforts. Though possessing a modicum of talent, Colwin polished his technique, and over time, became a keen student of the sport. His interest in learning about every aspect of swimming-from stroke mechanics to the physiology of exercise to the psychology of competition-continues to this day. One of the main lessons he learned in his 50 years of coaching is that “success depends not only on talent, superior training and coaching, but also on strength of character and a strong desire to succeed.”

“Swimming Dynamics” is a comprehensive work with chapters including a historical account of swimming (Chapter 3: “From the Pacific Came the Crawl”); little known stories of the early women of our sport (Chapter 5: “The Pioneers of Women’s Swimming”); a thorough history of the birthplace of competitive swimming (Chapter 8: “2000 in Sydney: The Modern Era Comes Full Circle”); and important questions concerning the Olympic ideal and the economics and entertainment value of sport (Chapter 9: “Into the Millenium”).

There is something for everyone in this book. “Swimming Dynamics” is immensely readable and timely in its choice of subjects.

Copyright Sports Publications, Inc. Jan-Mar 1999

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.