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Swimming

body, water, swim, arms, front, hands and motions

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SWIMMING, the art or practice of loco motion or mode of progression in the water by using the arms and legs as paddles. Ac cording to the best authorities, all animals, ex cepting man, monkeys and, perhaps, the three toed sloth (Bradypus Tridactylus), either swim naturally or go through the motions of swim ming when suddenly immersed in water. There are, however, a number of animals that, al though they swim naturally; drown as they swim. This is the case with rabbits, mice, moles and the smaller cats. Drowning appears to be the result of the fur being saturated. Tigers, cheetahs and lions, the larger cats, are fine swimmers. It is noteworthy that the mole and the rat are equally strong swimmers, the former, however, drowns in a short time, while the latter has considerable endurance in the water and is credited with many feats of long distance swimming.

The conditions under which an animal will swim well are those in which the wetted sur faces are large and, therefore, afford 'the great est power of resistance, and where the specific gravity of the object is a little greater than. that of water and consequently subject to the least disadvantageous displacement. Almost all of the larger quadrupeds, especially the deer and the horse, are exceptionally fine swimmers. They simply walk in the water, the motions which serve to support and propel them in that medium being very similar to those em ployed to progress on land.

On the other hand, in the swimming of man, it is necessary to consider a semi-artificial mode of progression, which is, however, sub ject to and regulated by the general laws gov erning aquatic locomotion in relation to the medium, the body immersed therein and to the forces exerted by that body to propel itself. The human body with a normal amount of air in the lungs is very slightly lighter than water and the movements of the limbs produce various effects, according to the direction of the effort. When they are moved horizontally and down ward they tend to support and propel the body. When they are moved in an upward direction, as in diving, the body is given a tendency to descend. As to the immersed sur faces, their direction tends to either float or sink the body. When a man wishes to float in the water he assumes a flat position resem bling the natural position of the lower swim ming forms and for purposes of propulsion and support employs the "dog paddle,p in which the motions of the hands are exactly similar to those of the forepaws of a dog in swimming or in walking; a method of swimming em ployed naturally by almost all land animals.

Although a man's initial efforts to swim re stilt in positions of the body and motions of the limbs which closely approximate to those of the lower animals that swim naturally, he has adopted and developed artificial methods by the use of which he surpasses them in speed and endurance.

These methods involve motions of the limbs which may be conveniently designated as the breast or front stroke, the side stroke, the overhand stroke, swimming on the back, diving. floating and treading. In general, so long as the arms and legs move in any direction, the forces exerted tend to propel the body.

The breast stroke consists of a broad sweep of the arms in a horizontal plane, accompanied by a frog-like motion of the legs. It is com menced by placing the hands with the backs upward, the wrists being bent sideways so that the fingers point to the front and the inner sides of the wrist joints touching the breast about four inches below the surface of the water. The arms are then pushed gently for ward, the palms being kept flat and the fingers closed. When the arms have been extended to their full extent, the palms of both hands are turned outward and a strong outward sweep is made by each arm, horizontally, through an angle of 90°. The arm movement is completed by bending the elbows backward and inward until they are brought dose to the sides of the body and then the hands are carried edgeways, to their original position in front of the body. Simultaneously with the extending of the arms to the front, the feet are struck out backward and spread wide apart and as the arms are swept around, the lower limbs are stiffened and brought firmly together so as to grasp the water by the whole leg, thus imparting a forward movement to the swimmer and also finishing in a straight line behind the body. Then, when the arms are bent and the hands are being brought to their original position in front of the body, the knees and toes are turned outward, the heels are kept close together and the feet are carried up to the body to repeat the movements.

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