Book Review

Swimming Dynamics


Review by Jack Kelso

Swimming Dynamics
Winning Techniques and Strategies
By Cecil M. Colwin
Illustrated 370pp. Chicago, Illinois
Masters Press. US $19.95 / CAN $29.95

Throughout history there have been individuals who have felt the need to record the endeavors of man in an attempt to establish some semblance of order to our evolutionary pathways. In sports, this historical recording has been pursued by professional academics who often create dry, ineffectual, objective information that lacks in any sort of humanistic quality.

Luckily for the sport of swimming, Cecil Colwin, a recorder and a practitioner of international acclaim, has the unique ability to communicate in straightforward and concise language that is simple to understand as well as enjoy. His passion for the sport of swimming is clearly illustrated in his vast body of published works, and his new book, Swimming Dynamics: Winning Techniques and Strategies, is, perhaps, his crowning glory.

Colwin's cynical sense of humour, and his complete lack of faith in the administrative bureaucracy that governs the sport motivates his need to express his opinions in the written word. He has always been a most curious and questioning coach, and his personal interviews in this treatise reveal a great many insightful and exclusive items of interest to the reader. There is no doubt that Colwin is a great collector of famous coachesā thoughts on swim coaching techniques; the lengthy interviews in the book deftly illustrate his ability to draw inner thoughts from the interviewee that may never have come to light in any other forum. His choice of coaching personalities throughout the book are of the highest order, and his ability to ask the right questions is unique. These interviews will be recognized by the sport's aficionados as cornerstones of swimming history in the years to come. The information revealed is noteworthy in its entirety, with strong implications for coaching today and well into the future. Colwin's technical knowledge and experience is aptly displayed in the chapter on strokes and turns. His skill as a graphic swimming artist, reminiscent of Howard Firby, is accurately portrayed in contemporary sequential drawings that are of great value to coaches and swimmers in their quest for stroke perfection.

The historical chapters on stroke development were of such thorough and universal character as to become almost mind-boggling. Nowhere in the history of the sport has anyone been able to place all of the evolving scenarios for crawl swimming in such an accurate manner. Colwin has done a tremendous amount of research in this section of the book. The treatment of the female swimming star as an historical object is also one subject in which there is a dearth of information. Now, Colwin has shed a most revealing light on this rather vague history. His chapter on this subject is, once again, a most comprehensive study of the struggle for women's rightful place in swimming. This was a truly enlightening and entertaining chapter on a side of the sport that needed to gain more understanding and knowledge.

Colwin's lifetime of exposure to competitive swimming is encapsulated in this truly marvelous compendium of facts. The final chapter on the rather dubious future of the sport, vis-a-vis the drug scandals and the corruption of the Olympic movement, leave much food for thought. It will be interesting to see how Colwin's concerns are dealt with in the near future.

This will be a milestone book in the history of the sport, a book that is highly recommended by this reviewer. Cecil Colwin's attention to accurate detail is unparalled in this comprehensive treatise. Obviously, you are a fan of swimming, otherwise you would not be reading this magazine. Swimming Dynamics is one book you should read and keep in your library for ready reference and just for browsing. In addition and most importantly, it is a good read, full of humour and enlightening anecdotes.