Jonathan Livingston Seagull Revisited In The Pool


Hi folks,

swim technique, blogging ideas, safe exercise,

Closed hand is fairly tense.

Many years ago I read a story about an intrepid seagull, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, who was determined to break the sound barrier. Given the known limits of terminal velocity I had no idea how he intended to do this, but I did notice that he pissed off the ‘powers of the day’ by being presumptuous enough to attempt it. He crashed many times, but he kept at it, constantly making minor adjustments to the tips of wing feathers when traveling at high speed. I don’t remember if he succeeded, but I loved the way he tried. I have a picture in my mind of the very tip of a single wing feather trembling as it interacted with the passing air at several hundred miles per hour.

Fully relaxed hand with fingers open or spread.

Fully relaxed hand with fingers open or spread.

Then the other day, as promised in a previous blog post and following encouragement via LinkedIn (Melanie – “Slightly relaxed and open“) and as a comment on this blog (Luis Torres – “una mano relajada y con los dedos ligeramente separados y voy mejor“), I was exploring hand opening in the pool during a hard fast workout. At one point I felt a fluttering of my little finger on my right hand, a kind of vibration as my pinky interacted with the fast flowing water (I was moving at a 1:27 x 100 yards – sprinting for me), which I thought of as feathering. This led me to remember the trials and tribulations of Jonathan Livingston Seagull at that very moment, whilst simultaneously sprinting for the wall – that was clearly an important memory for me. I realized that I was on a similar but less risky journey to find the ideal physical relationship between my limbs and the surrounding rapidly flowing liquid medium.

A partially relaxed hand with slight separation of the fingers.

A partially relaxed hand with slight separation of the fingers.

Based on a little experimentation in the pool it became clear that a relaxed and slightly open hand position is right BUT you will have to explore this for quite some time to find just the right degree of openness, closedness, and relaxedness, my friends. I’m sure of that. Another long and interesting journey of the body-mind.

This evening I decided to take some pictures of my right hand in three positions for the freestyle power stroke, closed (tense!), half open (a little tense), and fully open (relaxed). The relationship between the state of my hand and the position of my right shoulder was a dramatic one, and that is what I want to explore next. I get a feeling that it is important.

Got to love biomechanics!

-k @FitOldDog

Keywords: blogging ideas, safe exercise,

Today’s workouts:

Workout PLAN Coach: Chris Hauth
Distance: 2600.0 yd
Duration: 00:55:00
800 long
3×100 FAST with 30 sec rest
600 long
2×100 FASTER with 40 sec rest
400 long
200 long


  1. missironman says

    Wow… you are quick in the water. I can’t wait until my day comes. (Don’t worry I’m work on patience) 🙂

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.