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Breathing

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BREATHING.

The principal point of interest in the crawl stroke undoubtedly lies in the fact that it ensures good breathing, an important factor in swimming that has hitherto been greatly neglected. Some what lengthy allusion is made to this point, and those interested will certainly appreciate what this means in long distance or open sea swimming. More particular reference will therefore be made to the crawl stroke, as it appeared to suit a run ning sea, for at the time there was a heavy sea running, with the disadvantage of the spray being blown into the face of the swimmers, making it extremely difficult for those keeping the water with the side stroke or over-arm stroke. Al though it was only half a gale, many good swim mers had to leave the water after the first fifteen minutes or so ; but this was not so with the Aus tralian, and there is no doubt that Kieran was quite at ease during the forty minutes, or there abouts, that he was swimming under these some what exacting conditions.

There is no doubt that the action of increased breathing is not appreciated by swimmers to the extent is should be, for it is obvious that exhaus tion in the water is more often due to insufficient exchange of air in the lungs than to any other cause. The old accepted theory that people are drowned through being seized with an attack of cramps will rapidly die out when it is found that there are fewer drowning fatalities when this question of vital importance to all swimmers is better understood and appreciated. It is agreed that if a person is of fairly good physique and can obtain the required quantity of air in the lungs, he will be able to retain his head above water although suffering from an attack of cramps, and ninety per cent. of the cases of so

called cause of drowning are directly due to insufficient air in the lungs. The body loses its buoyancy, the swimmer becomes exhausted, and the head is submerged; then faintness ensues and the action of swimming ceases. Then the body sinks through not being able to displace a suffi cient volume of water to retain its natural position in the water.

To further emphasize this it should be noted that there was nothing extraordinary in Kieran's 'physique, as he had not fully developed and was only 19 years of age at the height of his success. There is thus no room to doubt that his splendid staying powers were entirely due to his regular and well-timed breathing. The same remarks apply to C. M. Daniels, who represents the finest American exponent of the art. Daniels' stroke is a particularly even one not having the slightest suspicion of undue force at any moment in the cycle of his movements through the water. It is this uniformity of action that leads to the grace of any particular stroke, and no doubt his example and those of the best British, Australian, Cana dian and American swimmers, if imitated, will lead greatly to give the average swimmer more graceful progress through the water than they have at present. Apart from this grace and uni formity, it gives better breathing and longer stay ing powers.