How NOT to swim distance butterfly?

Since promising Cindy to teach her how to swim a long and efficient butterfly, I’ve been watching swimmers of various fluency at my pool (not very hard – swimming fly attracts butterfly like daffodils 🙂 ) as well as videos of exceptional swimmers like Misty Hyman and Mike Phelps online.  I’ve since learnt that it’s a very hard stroke to diagnose sans footage… hats off to swimming coaches!  Here’s two of the most common mistakes I’ve seen, and two I’ve learnt in my own skin:

(i) head too high.  This seems to be much more detrimental to the stroke than it does to the front-crawl.  Unlike the front-crawl where a high head mainly increases drag, in the butterfly a high head also affects the body rhythm (the pulse is ineffective going up) as well as the recovery (it’s physically impossible to do a low, straight-arm recovery when the head is held up).  Everyone who does this butter-struggles.

(ii) chop-chop (aka too fast pull).  These are committed by better (and sometimes fast) flyers who have a high stroke rate but low stroke length (e.g., 13 strokes / 25m).  I noticed these as a “chop chop” pattern: it takes about the same time for their hands to go from entry-to-exit (pull) as it does exit-to-entry (recovery).  I can’t say what they are actually doing, but from my experience, I “chop chop” when my hands are slipping through the water and/or pulled too narrowly and/or not with high elbow.  The pull is the propulsive phase and should take longer (at least 3-fold longer) than the recovery.

(iii) inward rotated legs.  I was experimenting with pigeon-toeing (inward rotated feet), and then inwardly rotating the legs so that the kneecaps are touching.  A few kilometers later my knees hurt, and I’m backing away from trying again (can’t practice when you’re injured!)  It might be from the repetitive whipping momentum applied out-of-plane.

(iv) too long a glide.  When I was looking to be more efficient, one of the advice was to spend longer in the glide (the streamline after entry).  So I did that for a long time, and yes, it’s sound advice to an extent.  But following the “some is good, more is better” thinking, I got to a phase where I milked the glide until I get buoyed up to the surface and have no forward momentum.  So every arm stroke is pulling from Park – no fun.  My current thinking is that if anything, it’s far better to slow down and lengthen the pull.


Thesis woes

This is a doubly rare post — a personal post, and an emo one for that.  The thesis is sitting between 930 to 1030 pages in the past month and I dread looking at it.  It’s never going to be as good as it should be, and I feel sick about it.  (And I feel even sicker about the synthesis appendix.)  As a self-proclaimed stoic I ought to feel indifferent, and often I try to be indifferent, and I have certainly been successful in being cheery with people.  I’m even cheery writing on a blog that no one reads.

The thesis feels so pointless.  No one is going to read it. Seven fucking years of my prime wasted on a tome that is good for nothing.  Fuck the “new paradigm” in the title and self-aggrandizing sentiments.  You know it’s inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

The horrible thing is that there’s all these things I think are important that I’m not doing because “I have a thesis to write”.  Friends, family, love, projects… I could be doing so much more meaningful things other than looking the stupid thesis, polishing at a snail’s pace, anguished with guilt, useless dead weight on god’s good green earth.  This…

“Go firmly to the window,
and listen, shaken with emotions, but not
with the complaints, the implorations of a coward.”

Back to the Butterfly

Backstory: five years ago I signed myself up for a SCUBA diving course. At the first class there is a swim test: 200m, and treading water for 10min. I splashed and gurgled my way through the swim, then sank and drowned. Twice, and barely survived on the third trial.

“That’s awful, dude”, I said to myself, “you’ve got to learn how to swim.” So I gave myself two years to learn to swim the butterfly. “But why the butterfly when you can’t even swim?” Why not? “How do you know you could ‘swim the butterfly’?” I’ll swim 1000m of it.

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Web Adventures: evaluating what to learn

The past few weeks I’ve been greatly distracted while writing. Trying to build a supporting app for my dissertation and the inertia kick from chemdoodle web components brought me to learning Java / JavaScript. I’ve known for sometime that I need to learn web-dev for OpenChemArt (amongst other things), but haven’t put serious thoughts into it. Being a python coder with ancient C++ experience, none of this is familiar grounds.

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ChemDoodles, ISISDraw, BKChem, MarvinBeans, ChemSketch, ChemDraw…

There’s at least a dozen chemical structure editors running under different kinds of licenses and platform, and (ugh) none of them are truly satisfactory.  The latest one I’ve checked out is ChemDoodle, which is somewhat new and have some good things going on.  The existing reviews on the Net dates to 2004/5, so a fresh look at the current capabilities will be useful to the chemist community.  A more comprehensive look will come later (as in, a month or two later); this post is interim notes to remind myself for later, and an invitation for readers’ comments.  What other sketching software should I know about and what are your experiences with them?

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