Perpetuating the Myth

Feb 6, 2004
Perpetuating the Myth

This past week I had to obtain new software for some projects we're working on (don't worry, it was cheap). As a bonus, I got a one-year membership to a clip-art company, from whom I can download clip art for just about any use. That's cool, I thought. Maybe I'll start using some clip art in my articles, or around the website. Heck, maybe I can sneak some nifty little graphics into the videos... that should really SPICE things up.

So I went a-searching for some cool swimming clip art. I entered my search parameters and...WOW... more than 1,000 images popped up. I'm thinking this is going to be GREAT! Then I took a closer look.

As I scanned and clicked through the images, I started to realize something. I started to understand how the majority of people SEE swimming, and what we have to overcome in teaching people to swim correctly.

If you tried to learn to swim by using these images, your goal would be to hold your head as HIGH as possible, and it would be REALLY good to have it COMPLETELY out of the water. Kind of the opposite of the teaching progressions we show on our DVDs.

Now I know these pieces of clip art are caricatures, but it's kind of scary to think that THIS is how our sport gets represented, and that THIS is how people come to understand it. It's like, if you listen enough times to our political candidates say something, and if they say it with enough conviction, sooner or later the message just STICKS and we start to believe it, no matter if it's true or not. Almost all of the images on the clip-art site perpetuate the common myth that in order to get air, you have to hold your head high out of the water. Most of the images show the human body contorted into positions that are nearly impossible to obtain. And even the "serious" images show huge technical flaws. I know they're cartoons, but...geesch...don't these artists read But I guess it's images like this that keep us in business, even if they make our job TOUGHER.

I thought, just for fun, I'd share with you MANY images that I came across, so you can see that I didn't just imagine this. I apologize for not giving you a hard-hitting, technique-filled article that will forever change how you swim, but it might be eye-opening (and fun) to see how society in general sees our sport and to see how we (and you) stand apart.

So enjoy the art and then GO SWIM...but not like this.

This image gives the impression of easy, relaxed swimming... with the chin out, I doubt he'd be this relaxed.

Ah yes, the serious swim pic. This is what I'm talking about. Almost the entire head out of the water... and I BET people use this image to advertise swim lessons.

NICE ROTATION, as well as GREAT head position. At least he's focused.

OH MY GOODNESS.  No wonder this guy is SWEATING! Where is he heading? He must have a better egg-beater kick than Dave.

Hey, hey.... check this one out... there's hope. One goggle showing, low shoulder, good rotation, but the right arm isn't quite in the water... THAT'S GOTTA HURT!

This guy must be made of CORK.

Another great kicker... he barely needs his arms in the water at all.

Starting to get the idea here? Wait... there's more!

FINALLY.... some honesty. This is pretty much exactly what you'd end up seeing in all the other pics... eventually.

Other than the alien helmet, this stroke is PERFECT! NOT.

Swimming or sleeping... you decide.

Don't know why this one is in here. I just wanted to make sure you understood, that guys sunburned this bad SHOULDN'T be spashing.

Yep... that's it... REEEEEEEEEEACH that recovery arm.

I just have NO idea.

Is the guy on deck yelling for his teammate, or getting ready to PUNCH his coach for making them wear PINK CAPS?

Every once in a while, something with redeeming qualities... front-quadrant-swimming... and webbed hands.

Yeah... I can see this one happening. Great rotation with the head, even though both goggles are showing, the head is really rotated, so it's still pretty low... I actually like this one.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!! Another CORK person.

Did you know body fat is BUOYANT?

I hope that's the beach he's made it to.

I'm hoping this was meant as a synchronized swimming piece of art.

It's always good to use MEAN looking MONSTERS in your advertising. This is great for swim lessons on Venus.

I actually came across this one as a piece of "clip-art." I can't imagine anyone using this for anything other than a DANGER: DO NOT DO THIS EVER warning. The image originated in the Soviet Union (so it's old). The two guys in the forefront HAD to get hurt doing this. This image actually makes me nervous, and I pray that it's never used for anything other than what NOT to do.

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