Monthly Archives: March 2018

Apple Watch: Water Polo and Swimming

I am a verified stat head. I keep a spreadsheet of my swimming yardage. I love to swim on intervals and work against the clock. I always missed that feedback playing water polo.

I recently got an Apple Watch. I intended it mostly for swimming, but I wore it for a few water polo scrimmages, out of curiosity. I’d never had any statistical insight into those workouts.

Below are examples of heart rates for a swim set and a water polo scrimmage.

The swim set is so orderly. The first plateau is my 500 yard warm-up. I go really hard to see how I’m feeling that day. Then a gap, then kicking. Then I take a break before the main swimming set. While I’m swimming, the trace is pretty constant (sometimes even more than this one), and when I take breaks, the trace drops. The fluctuations at the end are 6 x 50s, alternating between sprint and recovery.

The water polo trace is so noisy. They all look this way. You can see my warm-up and some inactivity before the play starts, but after that it gets fuzzy. The whole last 3/4 looks like the sprint/recovery set from swimming. The average BPM are nearly the same.

I love water polo and swimming, but these traces lent insight into why some people like one and not the other. I hadn’t realized just how different they were as workouts.

Soviet Anti-Alcohol Propaganda

After visiting the Museum of Communism in Prague, I have been fascinated with propaganda posters. They share attractive design and typographical movements from their brethren in advertising, but they are grounded in darkness. Advertisements appeal to desire, ambition, family, and goodness (to a laughable extent, seriously is there anything more candy-coated than a McDonald’s or a Coca Cola ad?) ; propaganda posters appeal to fear, resentment, social-approbation, and shame. Advertisements recede into history, but they retain their emotional glow—we still enjoy old neon hotel signs and Coca Cola ads on the side of brick buildings. Propaganda maintains its darker emotions too—some of the kinder ones, like Rosie the Riveter, have crossed into pop culture, but war bonds posters from WWI and racist posters from WWII have understandably vanished.

Propaganda posters from other cultures fascinate me because they contain grim honesty. What people were meant to fear and how that fear was instilled is telling. It seems to me that propaganda varies between nations more than advertising because differences are often the source of fear.

The publishing company FUEL has a series of interesting books about Russian and Soviet culture. Their book Alcohol collects dozens of Soviet anti-drinking posters. Some of their are stylish. Some are tacky. They depict every manner of disordered drinking–children drinking, drinking during pregnancy, factory workers drinking, drivers drinking, people drinking poisonous moonshine. These are distressing ideas; they must have occurred often enough to cause anxiety.

I’ve mentioned this book to several people, and they are always surprised to hear that Russia ever suggested drinking less. They find drinking and Russia to be synonymous. Most of these posters are from the 1980s, as part of an initiative under Gorbachev. If American perception is any measure, the propaganda seems to have been ineffective.

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