Customer Review

53 of 67 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Out of date information - I returned the book, January 21, 2005
This review is from: Swimming Fastest (Hardcover)
I am a master's swimmer, been swimming most of my life. In the last two years I've been relearning swimming techniques for all of the strokes and am very interested in both theory and latest ideas. It was on a friend's recommendation I bought this tome.

I was very disappointed, and just returned the book for a refund.

The lastest research results reviewed are dated 1999 --- this is not acceptable for a book published in 2003. I don't mind that he recycled much of his old material, but to be 4 years out of date on a rapidly moving topic won't work. Again, for a supposedly state-of-the-art book published in 2003, this is far out of date.

His theory section doesn't include the mechanics of Thorpe's and Hackett's front quadrant swimming. I was expecting to see a thorough explanation of why it works. Instead, he says he doesn't think front quadrant with a long glide will work (Thorpe and Hackett indicate he's wrong here), but doesn't include any models for why it would or wouldn't.

The theory sections of the other strokes are very thin. Mostly he shows a picture of a fast swimmer and writes, "You should swim like this." But unlike freestyle, there is no substantive theory backing up why 'this' is supposed to be good.

I was most disturbed by the backstroke, since the patterns of movement he says one 'should' do seem to violate the hydro-physics principles he spent so much time on in the first chapter. Without any theoretical backing, he repeats that one should do like the fast swimmers. I came away from this chapter not understanding at all why fast backstroke swimmers swim with a stroke that has a strong downward component, which he clearly advises against in the first chapter.

There is a little nod to Thorpe and Hacket toward the very end of the book, but it looked to me almost just a gratuitous injection of modern names just before sending to print.

I'm now looking for a 2004/5 up-to-date swimming theory book.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 26, 2009 8:03:57 PM PDT
Please list the book when you find it. I am also interested in the "Thorpe" model, but cannot find a suitable reference.

Posted on May 12, 2010 5:46:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 17, 2010 5:06:26 AM PDT
Concerning Allistair Cockburn's criticism of "Swimming Fastest" - I say if you think you can do better why don't you go write a book yourself? I know nothing about swimming, but I do know something about finding the experts to help me learn how to do something. And I do know about arrogant scoffers who have nothing to offer, nothing to contribute but who enjoy saying that another person's honest efforts are not worthy. We all know the value of research and theory and good published results that can be tested and verified by others, but we also know that some classic books and theories are so good and true they will likely never be replaced. And especially at this level of competency, research would very expensive and time consuming. Who would be competent enough to improve and propose and test better swimming techniques? Allistair Cockburn?

P.S. - I received the book and now I know why it will never be a paperback. It is a huge book, like encyclopedia. The author says it was not meant to be read from cover to cover, but it is to be used as a reference. If anyone could read and apply all these methods, I am sure they would be an Olympic class swimmer! As it is, I am still trying to learn how to breathe before I can practice these things. I am determined to learn how to exhale through my nose underwater, then take a breath. But for now, I guess I am afraid and I can't do it yet. I will start practicing in a bowl of water on the kitchen table. My wife will think I am crazy. But my ten year old son has a flawless freestyle bilateral breathing rhythm and he is encouraging me!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 4, 2012 7:04:49 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 4, 2012 7:05:28 AM PST
Engineer says:
@Stephen Kinder

Yeah keep it up!!!! lifelong learning!!! I know of a guy who started at 40 or so and now at 60 smthng does marathons swimming ta the sea. He has crossed the English Channel among others.

Oh, since you have this book I recommend not to buy another. I have bought others before buying this one but when I got it It felt I should have bought it in the first place. This book and videos from Alexander Popov on the internet would be all you need. (search for POpov what is the limit)

For the breathing part. If you go to a swimming pool just hold on to the deck on a vertical body position, feet towards the bottom of the pool, and go up and down. The important thing is to not hold your breath. At any istant you will either breath in from the mouth, when both your nose and mouth are out of the water, or breathe out, when your mouth and nose are in the water. Adjust the duration of the entire breath with the range of your up and down motion. If you are at the sea, find a shallow place and undulate by bending your knees.

Posted on Sep 3, 2013 8:07:19 PM PDT
Gloss says:
Have you found a better book?
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