5-7-5: Swimming drill or Haiku?

(Spoiler alert: there is a haiku in this post!)

It’s a breathing drill:

Breath control is an important part of swimming. So we often do drills. A swim coach might write something like this on the board as a short drill set: 5 x 75 yards breathe 5-7-5. Translated as: for every 75 yards (that’s three lengths of the pool), one length breathe every 5 strokes, the next length every 7 strokes, the next every 5. Then do it again. Five times.

It’s a haiku:

Haiku is similarly restrictive. It is an ancient, nuanced art-form from Japan, but in the most basic terms, it is a poem consisting of three lines. A poetry coach might write something like this: 1 x 3 Lines syllables 5-7-5. Translated as: one set of 3 lines, the first line containing 5 syllables, the next 7, and the last 5.

In March we swam far
I noticed my shoulders first
Body’s transforming

And an explanation:

It is the only haiku I have ever written. A text exchange last night with Laura resulted in the composing of this haiku, which is appropriate, as 5-7-5 could be a breathing drill as easily as it is a restriction on syllables. It’s almost like a swimming/poetry conspiracy theory!

Look at them shoulders!

This is the legendary Gertrude Ederle. In 1926, at 19 years-old, she became the first woman to swim the English Channel. She beat the previous record (set by a man) by 2 hours. Her swim took 14 hours and 30 minutes, which was impressive on many levels, not the least of which was that bad weather forced her to swim the equivalent of 35 miles to cover the 21-mile distance. She held her record for 25 years. Go Gertrude!


About Caitlin Rosen


6 thoughts on “5-7-5: Swimming drill or Haiku?

  1. dear caitlin, this post is *almost* making me more fond of the 5-7-5 breathing drill. almost. -laura

    Posted by laura | April 12, 2011, 9:14 pm
  2. Now for better haiku, and since it’s open water, you should have a seasonal or weather reference in the last line! That’ll give you something to think about while putting in the mileage.

    I think my friend Karen Throsby is on this Malta week, if so, say hello & enjoy the swimming.

    Posted by Loneswimmer | April 22, 2011, 8:50 am
  3. I like this haiku poem

    Posted by Jorge mejia | May 8, 2012, 6:48 pm

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About Me

Caitlin Rosen I learned to swim as a wee one from my dad, who didn't really swim himself, but was tall enough and encouraging enough to send me back and forth to the side of a pool. There were also the terrifyingly wonderful trips on his shoulders out into crashing ocean surf, which instilled in me a fear and respect for the rising and falling, tempestuous beast, on whom he repeatedly admonished us kids to never, ever turn our backs. Read more...

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