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by Emmett Hines

May 1, 1993

Slipping out of the slipstream only makes it seem that way

Ever experience this?

You are closing in on a swimmer and about to overtake him/her. Then you start to swim alongside the other person in an attempt to pass and, lo and behold, the inconsiderate boob chooses that very moment to begin getting more value from his/her workout dues by swimming faster. You either have to put forth a superhuman effort to finish what you started or you end up swimming side by side all the way to the wall where the whole scenario gets ugly - you're upset because he/she wouldn't let you pass and he/she is pissed cuz you cut him/her off.

(Jeez people, can we lose this hermaphroditic he/she, him/her garbage and just agree on "it"?)

When you are about to overtake a swimmer you are, in fact, drafting off that person for a little while (drafting is where you enter, and are carried along by, the stream of water that the swimmer in front of you has already started moving - you benefit from the work that swimmer has already done, you swim faster with less effort). Then you are ready to swim past it (I'm referring to the other swimmer, remember our agreement? - this is the kind of stuff you have to put up with when you insist on being politically correct.). At this point you swim out of the draft of water the other swimmer was gracious enough to get moving for you and into his/her (sorry, its kind of a habit these days) wake and turbulence. You now are fighting more resistance than ever before. Unless the wake is big enough to body surf on you will find yourself having to work quite a bit harder just to keep from slowing down.

Of course, from your vantage point, it may very well appear as though the other swimmer chose just that moment to speed up.

This phenomenon is easy to see from the deck but is often misinterpreted, even by experienced swimmers, in the water.

So, the next time you have trouble passing someone in mid lane be aware that it may not be all their fault. Just realize what extra effort will be required and go for it. Of course if you tap them on the toes before (or as) you pull out to pass, they might have the common decency to hug the lane rope and give you room to swim in. And, if you get lucky, they will realize that it's best to stay to the right as both of you approach the wall so that you won't be cutting across their turn.

This Article first appeared in Schwimmvergnugen, the monthly newsletter of H2Ouston Swims.

Emmett Hines is Director and Head Coach of H2Ouston Swims. He has coached competitive Masters swimming in Houston since 1982, holds an ASCA Level 5 Coach Certification, was selected as United States Masters Swimming's Coach of the Year in 1993 and received the MACA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. His book, Fitness Swimming (Human Kinetics, publishers), is in its third English language printing and is also available in French (entitled Natation, published by Vigot), Spanish (entitled Natacion, published by Hispano Europea) and Chinese (entitled Jianshenyouyong). He can be reached for questions or comments through his web site where more of his articles may be found.


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