Conventional Wisdom on Shaving

Conventional Wisdom on Shaving

Post by Paul Mansfie » Mon, 20 May 1996 04:00:00


In hopes of diverting at least a little of the discussion in this
newsgroup to something other than Quance, I would like to challenge the
convention of swimming unshaved during the entire season and shaving
for the final meet of the year only.  Why not swim shaved all the time?

Swimming as we all know is a very tactile sport.  Getting a "feel" for
the water is critical to your success.  Shaving increases your feel.  

Doesn't it seem reasonable that if you trained all year long with this
increased feel for the water, that your mechanics and streamlining
would naturally get better, and become part of your natural "stroke
signature"?  It seems reasonable to me.  It seems to me that the
ability to cultivate an aquatic tactile sense a little bit more like
Biondi's, far, far outweighs the dubious claim that training with hair
drag during the year makes you a stronger swimmer.  

Frankly, I also question the validity of _any_ extra drag during
workouts.  It seems to me that the water resistance provided by your
own continually declining form thoughout practice as fatigue sets in is
more than adequate to "overload" your muscles in relation to what they
are called upon to do in a race.  But that's another post.    

So, how about it?  Any believers out there one way or the other on the
issue of perpetual shaving?  Any one ever tried a completely shaved
season?  Any coaches ever do any sort of semi controlled study by
splitting the team and shaving half?

No, I haven't tried it myself, for various reasons.  I think I'm right,
and I just thought I'd toss it out, for verification and/or abuse.

Paul Mansfield  

ps.  Regarding the ladies 400 IM:  Quance sits. Metzler swims.  End of
discussion.  :-)

 
 
 

Conventional Wisdom on Shaving

Post by SLeml » Mon, 20 May 1996 04:00:00

Paul,

I like your thinking.  

Your suggestion that there is merit in playing around with the "shaving"
effect throughout the season makes perfect sense to me.  

The physiological principle of adaptation is both subtle and profound.  I
believe that the acquisition of superior stroke mechanics (if one isn't
born an aquatic motor/sensory genius) depends absolutely on the degree to
which one individually adapts for the condition of swimming fast through a
medium as dense as water.

I don't think we adapt (physically, anyway) based on conditions that occur
once or twice a year, to wit, the traditional taper.  

Learning how to effectively apply power to the water for propulsive gain
while altering your profile to overcome the water's resistance are the
heart and the soul of great stroke mechanics and "feel" is the necessary
condition for being able to refine the stroke signature to its highest
level of efficiency and effectiveness.  

Regards,

Scott
Scott Lemley

 
 
 

Conventional Wisdom on Shaving

Post by Bruce » Mon, 20 May 1996 04:00:00


Quote:
Mansfield) writes:
>In hopes of diverting at least a little of the discussion in this
>newsgroup to something other than Quance, I would like to challenge the
>convention of swimming unshaved during the entire season and shaving
>for the final meet of the year only.  Why not swim shaved all the
time?...

I think the reason for shaveing has more to do with a psychological
advantage then with hair drag disadvantage. Hair doesn't create all that
much drag in the water. But you FEEL LIKE you are slipping through the
water much easer, there for you get a psychological belief that you are
swimming faster and that motivates the swimmer to do his or her best.

Shaveing all the time would make you get use to that FEELING you get of
slipping through the water, so in time you would loose that FEELING and as
well that simulation. Shave two or three times a season at the big meets.

Bruce

 
 
 

Conventional Wisdom on Shaving

Post by Paul Mansfie » Tue, 21 May 1996 04:00:00

In response to the post below:

Yes, it's true that shaving for the big meet gives you a rush of
new sensations, and therefore a psychological boost.  And yes, it's
true that even over the course of the three day meet, you become
accustomed to the new feel, so that by the time you swim your last
event, you feel good, but not as extraordinary as you did on day one.

But shaving gives you so much more than a psychological boost.  It
gives you an _awareness_ with regard to streamlining and pressure
differences that you can't normally feel unshaved.  My theory is that,
over time, a perpetual shave will allow you to _internalize_ the
knowledge that your body gets from its heightened awareness, and
translate it into a more efficient stroke. Just because the night and
day difference between shaved and unshaved has faded over time on a
conscious level, it doesn't mean that you aren't being affected and
gaining knowledge on an unconscious level. Who knows what your
unconscious might learn after a season, or 20, of swimming shaved.
(Just a quick aside to those who tend to dismiss the importance of the
unconscious side of swimming mechanics:  I'm quite sure that on a
conscious level, most world record holders consciously think the same
thing that you and I think when we swim... extend arm, elbow high,
s-pull, accelerate thru, repeat as needed.  Its the unconscious queues
that world class swimmers are able to take from the water that make
them world class.  Oh yeah, there's a heck of a lot of hard work
involved too, but without a feel for the water, you're not world
class.)  

Just one last bit, only partially tounge in cheek.  I've read (I think
in SWIM Mag) that Masters coaches typically find women swimmers are
more likely to finesse their way through the water, and men (the brutes
that we are) tend to try to muscle their way through.  The concensus of
the coaches was that it was a gender thang (sic), and that the
disposition differences of the two sexes accounted for the two
approaches.  Maybe the boys just need a closer shave.

Paul Mansfield      


Quote:
>I think the reason for shaveing has more to do with a psychological
>advantage then with hair drag disadvantage. Hair doesn't create all
that
>much drag in the water. But you FEEL LIKE you are slipping through the
>water much easer, there for you get a psychological belief that you
are
>swimming faster and that motivates the swimmer to do his or her best.

>Shaveing all the time would make you get use to that FEELING you get
of
>slipping through the water, so in time you would loose that FEELING
and as
>well that simulation. Shave two or three times a season at the big
meets.

>Bruce

 
 
 

Conventional Wisdom on Shaving

Post by SwmCoac » Wed, 22 May 1996 04:00:00

Sounds like a pretty good idea.  Don Magerle at Tufts has done some
studies on shaving, but I don't think he has had someone shave the whole
season.  I don know that he has never had someone shave when they are
tired, because he has done it in the past and it has had no additional
effect.  
You would run in to two problems when asking someone to shave the entire
season.  On the womens side, they woiuld love to keep their legs shaved,
but might halt at shaving their arms all the time.  On the mens side they
would most likely balk at shaving anything all the time.
You do bring up an interesting idea though, becuase we shave down a week
before the meet, so the swimmers can adjust and adapt.  Maybe I can
convince a few women at least to shave their legs all season as a start to
a study.

Brian Peticolas
Head Swim Coach
Principia College

 
 
 

Conventional Wisdom on Shaving

Post by Edward M. Powe » Wed, 22 May 1996 04:00:00


writes:

Quote:

>Sounds like a pretty good idea.  Don Magerle at Tufts has done some
>studies on shaving, but I don't think he has had someone shave the
whole
>season.  I don know that he has never had someone shave when they are
>tired, because he has done it in the past and it has had no additional
>effect.  
>You would run in to two problems when asking someone to shave the
entire
>season.  On the womens side, they woiuld love to keep their legs
shaved,
>but might halt at shaving their arms all the time.  On the mens side
they
>would most likely balk at shaving anything all the time.
>You do bring up an interesting idea though, becuase we shave down a
week
>before the meet, so the swimmers can adjust and adapt.  Maybe I can
>convince a few women at least to shave their legs all season as a
start to
>a study.

>Brian Peticolas
>Head Swim Coach
>Principia College

Many triathletes spend their entire competitive season shaved.  Perhaps
they would have some at least subjective insight on tactile feel.
Anyone?