Compiled and Written by Lenny Giteck
Ripples came across this award-winning short by Czech animator Alexandra Hetmerova on huffingtonpost.com — but it reportedly first appeared online on Vimeo.com.
The Huffington Post related the following: “The charming six-and-a-half minute short about an unlikely connection between two nighttime swimmers has been a [film] festival darling since 2010, when Hetmerova debuted it as a fresh graduate of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.”
Ripples is quite confident you’ll be smiling by the end, especially after the surprise twist. Enjoy!
Video: To watch Alexandra Hetmerova’s “Swimming Pool,” click here and scroll down a bit.
Think Synchronized Swimming
Is So Easy? Then You Try It!
In Ripples’ view, one of the most endearing aspects of the animated short “Swimming Pool” is the two-character — and we do mean character — synchronized swimming. Now, if you happen to be one of those folks who consider synchronized swimming to be a silly sport that belongs in the Olympic Games about as much as…say… tiddlywinks, think again.
A recent article on the Canadian Web site theglobeandmail.com chronicles the tough physical challenges inherent in synchronized swimming:
“[The swimmers] must do it all without touching the pool’s bottom to push off. Acceleration comes from sculling arms and legs pumping in an egg-beater motion. With perfect unison vital, the swimmers time movements to an eight-count piece of music booming from underwater speakers.
“From a scientific point of view, this is a huge challenge to optimize eight swimmers,” [assistant professor of biometrics Mickael] Begon said. “You want upward velocity, not forward or backward velocity. If the flier leans forward or backward, it creates displacement. I watch posture at takeoff to be sure that they have nice upward velocity.”
Knowing how to achieve these skills is one thing, but building the powerful and aesthetically-striking bodies to execute them with artistry requires the help of more experts. Their regimen also includes speed swimming, ballet, Pilates and strength and conditioning.
Learn more: To further understand the rigors of synchronized swimming, click here.
Video: To watch a short clip about the strenuous and multifaceted training Canada’s Olympic synchronized swimming team goes through, click here.
Freaked-Out Acrophobic Swimmers:
‘Where Did the Pool Bottom Go?!’
Since the inception of this column, we’ve featured a number of pools that are decidedly not for the faint of heart — especially those among us who suffer from acrophobia, the fear of heights.
One gut-churning installation that comes to mind is the roof-top pool at the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore. The pool is an outdoor, vanishing-edge affair perched hard against the rim of the hotel’s unique roof — which looks like an enormous, curved surfboard floating in air — providing a truly vertigo-inducing experience. As Ripples noted previously, if swimmers happen to accidentally butterfly-stroke themselves over the edge, the plunge to terra firma would be 55 stories straight down.
By the way, the Marina Bay Sands is the creation of erstwhile Newt Gingrich bankroller and major Las Vegas Mr. Moneybags Sheldon Adelson, the multibillionaire gambling tycoon who also played the major role in turning Macao into an Asian version of Nevada’s Sin City.
In any event, The Marina Bay Sands now has a new competitor in making acrophobic swimmers queasy: The pool at one of the Holiday Inns in Shanghai, half of which is hanging out in space 24 stories in the air. Twenty-four stories may not sound all that high, but the kicker is that the bottom of the pool — as reported by huhmagazine.co.uk — “has nothing underneath the deep end apart from a pane of toughened glass. According to hotel staff, the 30-metre-long pool lets guests feel like they’re ‘swimming over the air,’ but if you are scared of heights you can stay put in the shallow end.”
Ripples, for one, has absolutely no desire to be “swimming over the air” — so should he ever find himself at this particular Holiday Inn, staying put in the shallow end sounds like a plan.
Photos: To see the Holiday Inn glass-bottom pool, click here. Be sure to scroll down to view the second image. To once again see the pool at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, click here. Be sure to scroll down to view all the images.
Portable Pool Enables New Zealand
Swim Program to Reach More Kids
After a New Zealand charitable foundation started a program to teach south Auckland students in the primary school grades how to swim, the response was so positive that the program couldn’t accommodate all the kids who wanted to participate.
Luckily, a portable swimming pool came to the rescue. The Sir John Walker’s Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation incorporated the pool — which can be disassembled, packed into a trailer and transported to another school — into the program. From the New Zealand Web site stuff.co.nz:
[F]oundation spokeswoman Kelly Dean noted that they were “pretty much maxing out the pool space” so the new pool allows them to increase the capacity and get more kids involved. “You hear stories of kids who didn’t want to get in the water, who had never been in the water and by the end of the lessons you couldn’t get them out.”
A survey by the foundation indicated that 98 percent of the youngsters who received the seven free swim lessons “come out feeling more confident about swimming.”
Rescuing William the Horse
In the last installment of Ripples, we spotlighted the heartwarming and emotional rescue of a beautiful, much-loved golden retriever named Sam from the Merrimack River in New Hampshire. We conclude this edition with another animal rescue story — this one of William, a 7-year-old Arabian horse, from the Pacific Ocean.
It seems that William was part of a photo-shoot on a beach just south of Santa Barbara, Calif., when — according to cnn.com — he got spooked for some unknown reason and ran into the ocean. William continued horse-paddling an amazing two miles out to sea.
The CNN Web site continues the story:
Rescue personnel from the nearby Carpenteria Fire Department, along with state lifeguards, took to the water to search for the horse, and a helicopter was launched by Santa Barbara County’s search and rescue team. William was spotted more than two miles offshore in the Santa Barbara Channel, swimming toward oil rigs, according to an incident report.
“Firefighters were able to hook the animal’s reins with a boat hook and bring it alongside a paddleboat,” the report said. Floats were put under its neck to help keep its head above water. Photos and video taken of the rescue show Kelly and others placing a tow line under the horse’s saddle and securing it to the boat. Harbor patrol personnel and lifeguards appeared to take turns holding the horse’s head up.
Getting William back to shore took some two-and-a-half hours — and after a checkup by a vet, the horse was returned to his owner.
And with that, Ripples once again says…
Until next time, happy watershaping to you!