Namely, me. One reason you don’t see a sidestroke trophy in this photo is that the fools in charge of swimming championships don’t consider the sidestroke to be a competitive stroke.
Another reason is that no one except me entered the sidestroke event that I’ve been taking part in the past nine days on Napili Bay here on Maui, perhaps because my mind is the only place it’s been publicized.
Regardless, I love the sidestroke. It’s a contact lens wearer’s dream because your face stays out of the water all of the time. And you can enjoy the scenery while you swim, rather than staring mostly at water.
Every day I swim thirty minutes back and forth across the bay. I’ve been doing this every time we’ve visited Maui, which is at least fifteen times. I don’t understand why the sidestroke hasn’t caught on more, given all the exposure it’s gotten from me.
I’m a picture of elegance, in my own mind at least. I always face toward the open sea, ready to deal with a tsunami or great white (more realistically, a snorkeler who isn’t looking where he’s going).
I’ve evolved a sidestroke medley routine: 20 sidestrokes, then 10 highly modified backstrokes (my hands don’t come out of the water and I use a frog kick). Repeated for the 30 minutes, through flat water and wavy water, calm winds and high winds. My sidestroke gets me anyway I want to go, so long as it is back and forth across Napili Bay.
So I can’t figure out why my beloved sidestroke gets pitifully little respect. This brief article is typical. It snidely says:
Why would anyone give serious attention to the sidestroke? It’s neither powerful nor particularly graceful (or fast). Sidestroke is not a competitive stroke so it's not useful for racing. Some may see it as a remnant of an earlier age of swimming, a kind of evolutionary anomaly, an archaic remain of swimming strokes long surpassed on the evolutionary chain.
Obviously the author hasn’t seen me swimming the sidestroke. I am a blend of grace, power, and speed. I’ve never seen a dolphin during my sidestroking, undoubtedly because they lurk just offshore gazing with awe upon a member of another species who rivals, if not surpasses, their swimming ability.
Today a girl wearing fins was swimming various strokes across Napili Bay at the same time I was. For a few minutes we were close enough together for me to gauge our relative speeds. During her butterfly strokes I’m pretty sure I was staying ahead of her. Only when she switched to a crawl did she start to slowly move past me. With fins, remember.
So I believe I’m justified in claiming the sidestroke championship of Napili Bay. I will call my title the Beckwith, in honor of Fred Beckwith, who in 1859 became the swimming champion of England using the overarm sidestroke.
Ah, those were the days.