The Backstroke Snorkel

As part of my training for MIMS, I did a long swim today (10 x 1650’s). I did this workout a couple of weeks ago and a few people asked me how I could swim this long, as it would be far too boring for them. I have two answers to this question:

1. Nothing is too boring for me; and

2. How could I possibly be bored when my mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapour of invention.

Behold the results of today’s labours!! I submitted the following patent application to the Patent and Trademark Office and received the somewhat dubious serial number of 123,456,789. I’m sure this application will get through without any objections and I will receive a letters patent shortly.

Please private message me with any licensing offers.

US Patent Application Serial Number 123,456,789


Background of the Invention

In recent years, snorkels have become a very popular training apparatus for swimmers. When worn, a snorkel allows the swimmer to concentrate on his or her head position without having to move their head to breathe.

Traditional snorkels have proven ineffective when worn during backstroke, as the opening of the snorkel is submerged beneath the water, making breathing problematic.

Description of the Invention:


A traditional backstroke snorkel is shown in Figure 1. The tube (A) of the snorkel extends from the swimmer’s mouth (B), over the swimmer’s head (C) and then angles down, with the opening (D) resting underwater when the head is in the correct position for backstroke. This design has proven disastrous for some backstrokers, as it is nearly impossible to inhale anything other than water in this position.


A first embodiment of the present invention is shown in Figure 2. In this embodiment, the tube (A) of the snorkel extends from the swimmer’s mouth (B), around the side and underneath the swimmer’s head (C), and up above the surface of the water on the other side of the head (C). This embodiment has the advantage of having the snorkel opening (D) in the air instead of underwater.

This arrangement is advantageous in that the backstroker can keep their head in the optimal position during practice, while breathing enough air to remain alive.


A second embodiment of the present invention is shown in Figure 3. In this embodiment, the snorkel further includes a mirror (E). The mirror (E) is attached to the snorkel tube (A) and allows the backstroker to see where they are going.



A third embodiment of the present invention is shown in Figure 4. In this embodiment, a vase (F) is also attached to the tube (A). The vase (F) can contain a flower (G) or other foliage deemed attractive to the backstroker’s coach or spectators. With this embodiment, it is recommended the backstroker perform open-turns rather than flip-turns. Other variations on this third embodiment include but are not limited to fishing tackle, video entertainment equipment, coffee-cup holders and ashtrays.


What is claimed is:

  1. A backstroke training apparatus comprising an air tube connectable to a swimmer’s mouth,
  2. said air tube comprising an opening which protrudes above the surface of the water in which said swimmer is backstroking.
  3. The backstroke training apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a mirror attached to said air tube
  4. The backstroke training apparatus of claim 2, wherein said mirror is attached to said air tube above the surface of the water while said swimmer is backstroking.
  5. The backstroke training apparatus of claim 1, 2 or 3, further comprising fishing tackle, a vase, video equipment, or an ashtray attached to said air tube.
  6. The backstroke training apparatus of claim 4, where in said vase, fishing tackle, video equipment or ashtray is above the surface of the water when said swimmer is backstroking.
  7. A backstroke training apparatus, substantially as described herein, with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Purple Haze

This is the view I had as I collapsed after my first run since Thanksgiving last year.


halfway down…


hit the deck! (yes, that’s blue sky and sun. We’re not used to it. It burns usssss)


Now slightly recovered, and looking like I’m wearing a Zorro mask:


and here’s what was playing on my ipod:

Dickey’s (warning: rude drawing!!!!!)

Do I have a secret admirer? Is a secret someone telling me to shoot for the stars? That must be it!!

I emerged from Thursday night’s solo swim to find my car window festooned with the following treasure:

I’m quite pleased with how the photo turned out, as it was very dark. I smeared the old fellow with my finger and concluded he must have been done in lipstick, though a very unfortunate colour.

My esteemed colleague Vlog suggested I draw a face or body around him and use him as the logo for an upmarket ladies’ restaurant to be called “Dickey’s ®”.

I think this is an excellent suggestion.

Here’s the workout I did. It’s Bill White’s workout, and he described it as long and boring. But it’s gonna take a lot more than that to long and boring me! I enjoyed it.



It turns out that my last blog was quite cathartic (in the medical sense) so I am no longer sulking.

That sulk didn’t last long. I very much appreciate the feedback and support from my usms friends on this matter. Thankyou all for helping me feel like less of a freakish b*&^ch.

I’m still buzzed and on the couch 2 hours after returning home from a very late and therapeutic swim with my friend Sue Appleyard (thankyou Sue for swimming with me!). I might be tired, but the kids are asleep, the dog’s head is in my lap, and I’m working on a pencil thin moustache. Perfect.

Here’s a live version of Nightswimming by REM. I play this over and over every time I swim at night. Enjoy.


I’m sure this is no loss to anyone but there will be no more Nuggets issuing from these quarters for a little while, as I am sulking.

In brief, I practiced and signed up at USMS with Academy Bullets during the 2 month break my regular team takes in fall 2009.

I’d been with that particular team since I first started swimming in 1993. I did stroke clinics with them and loved their workouts. I eventually got hooked on Open Water, and their 2 month break fell at a bad time for my OW marathon swimming training. Nobody on that team shares my passion for marathon swimming, or even Open Water. I wish they did. I do miles and miles alone in the pool.

Well…..I paid up with my old team for the ’10 season because I love their Tuesday and Thursday night practices and I get sick of swimming alone. I thought since I don’t do pool meets and I’m generally a pretty harmless person who goes to practice regularly I’d be ok.

It seems not.

I was told I could NOT attend my old teams’s practices starting summer if I didn’t change my USMS designation back to their club.

OK, but where does this leave Bullets??? Why should THEY allow me to practice with them if I change my designation back to the other team?

How does one practice with more than one masters’ team? I know people do it!