Sunday, January 17, 2010

Body Language

Part of being in a “beachy” part of the world is that physical appearance seems to become much more important to people.  Don’t ask me why, it just does.  Whether people are stripping off the clothes or slapping on more makeup, it’s all about how they look.  And that was definitely the case in Fort Lauderdale this winter.

In some ways, I’d say, this attitude has actually gotten more prevalent down there.  I hadn’t been on the winter training trip to south Florida in a few years, so I was curious to see what had changed.  All it took was one afternoon spent at a local arts festival to get my answer.  As we pushed through the crowd, past the booths of artist vendors, I was dumbfounded by what I saw all around me.  In fact I made a mental note to check the newspaper later and see if there was a “Salute to Dysmorphia” convention going on in town because I have never seen so many women (and more than just a few men) whose faces had been artificially altered.  And not in a good way.   Their faces were unnaturally smooth with big, blubbery fish lips and tiny, taut eye slits, but the rest of their bodies were naturally saggy and speckled, just as you’d expect from anyone in their gravity prone years.  It was so bad and there was such a critical mass of these people stumbling around in bedazzled jeans and stiletto heels that my own children had to tell me not to stare. 

At the other end of the extreme are the folks for whom it’s all about their bodies.  I’ve long noticed an interesting phenomenon with some masters athletes:  For each item of clothing they remove, their posture improves by about an inch.  By the time they get down to the near-bare essentials, their heads are in the clouds and their abs are in your face.  I definitely saw a few of these people strutting around the pool deck there at ISHOF.  I never actually saw any of them swimming, but they definitely spend a lot of time wearing swim suits. 

Of course with those who have a more functional relationship with their bodies (i.e., college swimmers putting in 10,000+ yards of swimming a day), appearance is not much of an issue.  In fact a sure-fire way to tell if someone isn’t swimming enough is to gauge how much effort they’ve put into getting dressed.  If there isn’t at least one greasy pizza stain on the sweatshirt they’ve been wearing since they got there, then you know they’ve got another 2,000 yards in them.  Conversely, when they show up wearing some portion of the pizza, then you know it might be time for an easy day. 


  1. Splendid. I will recommend your site to others and re-use the thoughts of the last paragraph to assess our own swimmers.


  2. How many of the swimmers are eating pizza in the showers???

  3. I'll go check, TJ, and then let you know after I post bail.


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