Wednesday, March 30, 2011

a dive with lovely

There was a competition in Namur last sunday, and these Belgium comps are notorious, not just for being the scene of the first ever Constant Apple world record, but also because they involve 3 disciplines in about 3 hours and that makes them deadly. Plus it's not the most forgiving of pools, with an ever-changing profile, very shallow turn at one end and weak lines that will not support a diver's weight, so going in you know it's going to be tough. Adding to these difficulties was my digestive system, which had been varying between moaning and screaming at me for about a week, and i wasn't really in the mood to max, so i created my own extra drama as well.

On a huge plus side, my lovely girl had come over to compete and be supercoach. She helped me get to a 5:11 static where i normally would have given up at 3 (constant mental battle is very tiring) and convinced me to do a dynamic despite my whining. I did a quick 101 to get it over with, bad result but good to get over myself. She managed to do a 5:40 and almost immediately after a 75 dynamic, despite no preparation and having to borrow weight and fin from the previous competitor. So far things were going a bit rough.

But then we were up for no fins together

photo by Danny Martherus

and the light in the pool was all pretty, and standing next to all this loveliness, i felt suddenly relieved in a non-smelly way, and decided to go for a good technical dive:

Lovely did a PB with a 62 meter dive which proves she can do no fins and do a lot more. She ended up with a silver medal for her static, and i with a gold for the no fins, although in the overall results, i was ruthlessly beaten by Danny Martherus (and 3 others), on whom i'd declare war but he's way too nice and he shot the picture and the video of lovely and me. That's him next to me, with a silver medal for no fins -he's too pretty to beat


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

the extraordinary Mr Van

This is Mr Van

Mr Van

He does extraordinary things; he can hold his breath for more than 8 minutes, he can swim 200 meters underwater with a bigass fin, and 155 without it. By being so extraordinary, he singlehandedly raised the level of Dutch freediving. But what is truly great is that quality extraordinary people have: he makes it look easy. Check out what he did today, just for fun

Much like laughter, and a bit like yawning, extraordinary feats and people inspire extraordinariness. A man like Mr Van inspires not just by what he does, but how he does it, because it might seem easy but it actually is very hard and he works really hard at it. He got good, he got better, he got extraordinary. Inspirational man, Mr Van.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

dusk to dusk

it was around dusk

birch at dusk

and dusk changes things, doesn't it, it mixes things

bushes and pond at sunset

and forests become branches

forrest drive-by

and branches become waves

watery forrest

and bushes become fire

flaming bush drive by

and silver turns to gold

twigs in pond

and birches start playing tag

birches playing tag

and clouds get all grassy

reflections on perspective

and grass turns white

clearing 2

and homes are made of sky

flats at dusk

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

park-side observations from a pre-pensioner

After a particularly unsuccessful day of trying to get an actual job, i went to the park to watch the birdees and take an advance on being a pensioner in 30 years orso. I thought it would be relaxing, and it was

ducks in pond

till these punks flew in

ducks landing

and some more dropped by

ducks landing 2

and they started chasing each other

ducks on the move

and before i knew it, i found myself photographing what can only be described -i'm sorry- as a duck gangbang

duck gangbang

Now i grew up reading Donald Duck, and that magazine doesn't feature this kind of behavior (i think the magazine that does has a humorous variation on the word 'duck' in the title), so i felt slightly queazy and a bit dirty (not in a good way), but thankfully this guy broke them up

on the line

after which the seagulls got over their embarrassment and came back

seagull fly-by

seagull in flight

but the flock of pigeons -a perverted bunch- were disappointed and took off


and the calm returned

blooming wheeping

I love springtime, but next time i see ducks, i'll focus on something else -seeing Daisy being treated that way is a bit shocking

droplet of spring

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

speed apnea II: Pieter time

The list of world records for the 100 meter freestyle swimming is mind-boggling if you ever tried to do a bit of a quick swim. First off, you get exhausted after 6 strokes, but also if you're trained and figured out how and when to breathe and not die and things, there still comes a point where the water just turns to custard and your limbs with it. I managed to do 100 meters in 1 minute 20 once, a couple of years back, and spent the rest of the day recuperating and crying. Since starting freediving, i gave up on the whole notion of speed in water.

But then there was that speed apnea thing and messing around with the monofin was quite good fun, the water going 'woosh woosh woosh' by your ears and the sensations of speed washing away all thoughts, so i tried going a bit faster, and ended up doing the 100 meters within 50 seconds. I did that in what is officially called the 'Pieter van den Hoogenband zwemstadion', which is part of a larger swim complex called the Tongelreep (for us Dutch are good at coming up with sexy names), but is known affectionately by swimmers as the Pieterpool. It is a fantastic pool build for a legendary swimmer: Pieter van den Hoogenband was the first man to do the 100 meter freestyle in less than 48 seconds, a record that stood for 8 years.

Less than 48, without fins. That's insane. But when you look at that boggling list of records on the 100 meter freestyle, it starts making a bit more sense. I mean, Tarzan is on that list. It's a list of quite extraordinary people. It begins over 100 years ago, in 1905, with a Hungarian called Zoltan Halmay. Now with a name like that you're destined to become a magician, but he did 100 meters in 1 minute and 5.8 seconds. Impressive, especially when you take into regard this was well before lycra and he was  wearing his woolen underwear. The first to break the minute is Johnny Weismuller, aka Tarzan, in 1922 with a time of 58.6, but he was being chased by a crocodile. It progresses slowly; by the early seventies they're in the low 50's, with Mark Spitz leading the way, probably with dribble out of his mouth. Then in 1976 a man called Jim Montgomery breaks the 50 by 1/100 of a second -whilst leading a tank division. Now Matt Biondi is a name i remember, also because it would be a good name for a futuristic superglue, but mostly because he was damn quick and broke the 49 in 1985. He had the world record until '94, when Popov broke it with 48.21 -but that was controversial because of the really big red shoes he was wearing. And then this dutch boy Pieter comes along.

On the 19th of september in the year 2000 the then 22 year old Pieter swims everyone and everything to shreds with a time of 47.84. And for 8 years, no one is able to beat him. No wonder they build that pool for him.

You still see him around there; he is HUGE, 90% chest and the rest smile. I always get a little starstruck when i see him. I look at him and think "Dude, i can't even swim that fast with a huge fucking fin on." But then i did it in 49 seconds, and that 47 seconds of his started calling me. I looked at the footage of my dive and saw i could improve by applying more backstroke, and pretty much just gunning it right from the start. So i did:

This was last monday -it still hurts. The whole idea of supple strength was thrown out about midway, to be replaced by blunt force. It wasn't pretty, and i swam right into custard at around 60, but it was slightly satisfying to get to Pieter speed -even if i had to cheat by wearing a fin.

There are a lot of kids training in that pool who can break the minute, lots of little Johnny Weismullers -though less vocal- and i admire them. I wonder what they can do with a fin. But can someone please ask Pieter to put a fin on and break one more world record? I would, but i stutter around him.

PS anonymous but German sources tell me the video cannot be watched by our fine neighbors. Youtube isn't always the most forgiving of hosts when it comes to private little parties like this. I hope Vimeo can solve this grave injustice:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

monster in my shed

My mommy said there were no monsters.

My mommy lied


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

speed apnea

Inspired by Peter Pedersen's 200 meter in 2 minutes, a legendary dive in freedive circles, the first time somebody did the 200,

i wanted to test if i could even do half that: 100 in a minute. 100 under normal conditions is a bit tough, even if you can do more than 150, since the hard part tends to be between 50 and 100, when the contractions are at their meanest and your body isn't fully into oxygen-saving dive mode yet. Normally it would take me about 1 minute and 20 seconds to do 100, so i'd have to sprint a bit. Best i'd done sprinting full-out is about 23 seconds for 50 -not very fast. So i'd have to go nearly full-out and maintain that for a minute. I was worried about that: it'd burn a lot of oxygen and probably hurt loads. But i tried, somewhat apprehensively and reluctantly.

The advantage of speeding is that you don't really have time to think, so it never gets mentally hard. The disadvantage is that if you really go all out, you start hurting quite badly quite quickly after the turn. Though 100 within a minute is not so tough, to do 200 in 2 is borderline unbelievable. To maintain that pace for such a long time is a monster achievement, and it took a couple of years of much slower long dynamics until a new king of speed and distance arose in the form of Fred Sessa, who did 255 in 2:37

Fred commented afterwards that it hurt pretty bad at 100, and got progressively worse after that.

It is an interesting discipline, more finswimming than freediving perhaps, but could be useful as training. I wonder how quick Fred and Peter can do the 100. Probably faster than the current official CMAS world record, which is 42.85 seconds, held by Cosimo Garofalo

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The pre-fab hipness of Camden

Zoomed over to Camden Market

stable statue swoosh

which once was a stable but since the 80's has been the stable for hip Britannica

bowler hat

yet it had the definite air of a well-established cutting edge, the commercially viable version of counter-culture, where hip is just another fashion to be followed and being alternative is a matter of hair color

green and pink

now as a 36 year old white dude who only thinks of clothes in ways of "Does it fit?" and "Does it smell?" and thinks a haircut is good if it doesn't require more than 20 seconds of work after a shower, i'm much closer to hip-replacement than to hip, but still, i was disappointed. I was hoping to feel very alien and old and out of it, overwhelmed by the new and the groovy. Instead, i was amused by the classics being repackaged in smaller portions

bad to the bone yorkie 2

and in tiny canine portions

bad to the bone yorkie

but at no point did i see anything new, which made me think i was probably in the wrong place. Hip London must be far far away from Camden, for Camden is as cliche as a stencil of a palimpsest. It is the blunted and bluntly commercial version of what might have been sharp and edgy 30 years ago.

So i still have no clue of what is hip. What i find odd is that we've had a major technological revolution in the last 15 years with internet and cellular phones, which has affected almost everything we do in daily life, but in fashion and in music, we seem to get rehashes of old. I don't know, but the coolest thing i saw in Camden was this guy

camden man

maybe 'cause his clothes didn't fit. And they probably did smell.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011