Saturday, February 24, 2007


re- + laxāre

This morning, our coach gave us the following 2,250-yard main set:
6 x 25 kick
1 x 150 free
6 x 25 catch up drill
2 X 150 free
6 x 25 EZ back
3 X 150 free
6 x 25 stroke
4 x 150 free
6 x 25 double arm back
Since we had to swim each set of 150s at progressively faster intervals, I tried as much as possible to: 1) relax; 2) mentally avoid playing catch up with the leader; and 3) focus on stroke length and rate.

This week, I am reading the deliciously distinctive pop-culturally oriented essays in Never Drank the Kool-Aid.
When developing his profiles, Touré handles subjects/topics/issues like a seasoned book discussion group leader. He writes:
I interview people as if I'm talking to a friend, being relaxed and folksy and familiar. I like to let the conversation take the shape that my subject wants it to take. I guide it here and there, but I'm always trying to make it a casual journey, and I'm always trying to sense what they want to talk about. I always listen closely and respond to what they want to say rather than just running down a list of questions and having a structured back and forth. Good interviewing isn't really about the questions you ask, it's about follow-ups. Through active listening I often get people to tell me things I wouldn't have known to ask them.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Gimme Shelter

After warming up with 7 x 100 FR, our crafty lane knitted a three-row swatch, swimming a 9 x 75 stroke set in a K/K/S pattern:


When our coach followed this up with a meditative 8 x 100 FR set, I found myself thinking about Girlbomb, Janice Erlbaum's unblinking memoir of her teenage years in 1980s New York City. Here's a cogent snippet:
"How are you tonight?" she asked.
I was...How was I? Disoriented. In shock. Just two hours ago, I had been heating up some lentil soup at my mom's in Brooklyn, thinking I'd eat it and maybe read some Edith Wharton before bed. Now here I was at a runaway shelter, staring at a nun's mustache and wondering where I was going to spend my adolescence.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


African-American Voices

Absorbing memoirs, bold essays, compelling poems and riveting short stories. Two of my favorite libarians on the planet have compiled a booklist which highlights recent titles by and about African-Americans. In "Miscegenation," poet Natasha Trethewey contemplates the Mississippi her parents once knew and the one they left behind. In Never Drank the Kool-Aid, critic Touré examines the world of "sensitive thugs," performing artists and politicians. And in Letters to a Young Brother, actor Harper Hill offers encouraging words of advice. Inspiring!

Sunday, February 11, 2007


The virtues of bilateralism

After plowing through a series of IMs, our lane swam a 6 x 50 freestyle drill set and concentrated on alternate breathing (i.e. breathing every three strokes for the first 25 yards and every five strokes, the second). I found Coach Jun's bilateral breathing exercise helped me focus on stroke symmetry in the water.

These days, I have been alternating between the realms of fiction and nonfiction, (practicing bilateral reading, if you will) and have found shifting between fact and story, narration and information, tale and thesis especially rewarding. After reading Howard's haunting first novel, I turned to professional reading on transforming teams. And after following Abel Crofton rush through the streets of Amsterdam, I considered Stoddard's advice in You Are Your Choices. In swimming and reading, my goals are to find a balance and move beyond the comfort zone.

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