Dean Owen

5 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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A Single Breath of Air

A Single Breath of AirJE a Pr, J a

My name rang out on the loud speakers. I stood up, gave an embarrassed wave to the crowd, and started my prep for the race. I would love to go to Athens for the World Championships and just for a second, I thought I might have a chance. Shaking my head back to reality, I calmed down and started to think about the real challenge ahead. Making the distance on a single breath of air.

I’d done it in training many times. But this was the All Japan Championships. There was a film crew here for Heaven’s sake. What the hell was I doing here?

Our club was small so Ken decided to enroll all seven of us. Ken seriously had a shot at Athens. The rest of us were here to have fun. Yes there was talk of our sport making the Olympics. I was doubtful. Hey, stop dreaming! You are a slob Dean Ashley Owen!

Truth hurts. I’d be lucky to win the heat. It had been years since my daily training regimen of 3km workouts. Yes I was captain of the St. Johns School Waterpolo team, but only because I didn’t make captain of the swim team. The vice captain of the swim team is automatically made captain of waterpolo. And who do they pick for captain of swimming? Charlie Gare, the school hero, the God, the school prefect with the green jacket and gold badge. Never mind that I held the 50 and 100 yard breaststroke records (yep, our pool was built in some bygone era when Viscount Montgomery of Alamein was chairman of the governing body. It was probably him who decided on yards, bloody idiot!). Never mind that I beat Charlie in every single race. Never mind that 10 years later I get a call from Stephens our swim coach saying my record had just been broken. Charlie got swimming and I got waterpolo and that’s the way it worked.

I slipped into my neoprene socks, dipped my fin in the water, and checked the line up. Boy they looked fast. A decade ago I would have shaved every single body hair off my hairless body. No need here. I have one task, to make 50m on a single breath of air and avoid getting my picture on The Japan Times as the only competitor who came up cold! 

Who am I kidding? The cameras were off for the heats.

It was time. The 50m Apnea Heats. The crowd around this Olympic size pool were going wild - all nine of them.

I swiveled to the starting block. Slowed my breathing, and looked toward the goal a whopping 50m away. Boy it was far compared to my 25 yard pool back in Blighty. One breath and it should be over in 20 seconds. For Pete’s sake I used to hold my breath for 3 minutes practicing for freediving. But this was full out exertion. And I’d spent the last few years staring at Japanese Government Bond prices on screens and drinking my life to shreds entertaining Chemical Bank NY.

Deep breath.

Bang! (they used starter guns back then).

I hit the water and slipped into my dolphin kick. I exhaled half the air as I got into my stride. My peripheral vision saw nobody in sight, which could ether mean two things. I was way behind, or I was winning! I decided on the latter and took a huge gamble, expelling all my air to streamline my body. It felt fast. It felt very fast! I saw the 5 meter mark approaching fast. I didn’t look up to see the wall, preferring instead to chance breaking my fingers. Touch.

Stopwatches were being checked. I’d won the heat. 21.75 secs, but I had no frame of reference. This was my first competitive Apnea race. I knew some guys were doing it in the 16 second mark, but I also knew I’d beaten the freestyle world record, albeit with a whopping great mermaid fin. Yeah, that’s how I’ll market it!

I hadn’t counted on being in the quarter finals, and to be honest, I was spent. Fifteen minutes later I found out I was up against Ken, lol (of course back then there was no “lol”). The guy was a flipping fish! He lived and breathed chlorine!

That afternoon I found myself on the starting block once again. I decided to coast it. I had nothing left in me. Ken won the heat and I came in a full 10 seconds later in as stylish a dolphin kick as I could muster. Nobody noticed.

I’d done what I came here for, twice.

Two races, two breaths of air.

Watch Russian Finswimmer Pavel Kabanov break the World Record in the 50m Apnea in Baku, 2015. His current World Record stands at an incredible 13.85 seconds.

Finswimming has featured at the World Games as a trend sport since 1981 and was considered for inclusion in the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

After watching that race, would you like to see Finswimming as an Olympic sport?

Dean Owen is Co-Founder of Quimojo, a revolutionary new concept in Global Campus Recruitment.

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Dean Owen

5 years ago #29

Thanks Michael. I just got back from a swim. If you can do 25m without a fin, I'm pretty sure with a monofin 50m will be a doddle.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #28

I always follow the swimming and even remember seeing Mark Spitz compete when I was six yrs old. Always looked up to people like Matt Biondi, Ian Thorpe, even Greg Louganis. Thanks for commenting and never stop swimming! Best exercise bar none!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #27

lol yes, I had flat feet. Hopeless runner, but great in water. It's funny I think we all remember some things well, and some things bad. I am hopeless with birthdays and anniversaries, but I can recall swim races and stock trades and every little detail from 20 years ago. Enjoy the Olympics . I am so happy for Singapore right now with their first gold ever and in a race against Phelps!

Mamen 🐝 Delgado

5 years ago #26

You are a Champion Dean Owen!!!! In any case...

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #25

I've had others say the same. I guess I may have to find the first book.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #24

Don't watch Harry Potter, read them. I really didn't like the movies.

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #23

I think I need to watch it now just to get an idea of what your dining hall may have been like Dean LOL

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #22

Ok, I'm embarrassed to admit, I'm probably one of the few who never watched Harry Potter. oops!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #21

Hogwarts? The school in Harry Potter. I could swear they based the dining hall design on our school dining hall.

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #20

I never went to prom, can you believe that? My boyfriend (now husband) broke up with me at the time LOL. What are hogwarts???

Dean Owen

5 years ago #19

I must admit I am not familiar with college culture in the States. I come from two island nations which do not have cheerleading or marching band or prom so what I glean is the stereotypical portraits I see in the movies. My school was much more akin to Hogwarts!

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #18

And I'm sure your Marching band 'gal' was way cooler- I can tell she's a very interesting woman from what you've written. The few friends I'm still friends with today from HS are not from the cheerleader crowd lol!

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #17

I must have been between cool and square (balanced?) Dean Owen. I played in chorus band and the Marching band. Clarinet in Chorus and Bass Clarinet in Marching band! I can tell you, I never felt cool in HS. But, I'm glad I had the experiences I was given! Ballet was an art and I wish I could do what I used to but my body won't allow ;-)

Dean Owen

5 years ago #16

You can probably pick up a monofin quite easily where you are. I used to buy from Russia and Italy. And the snorkle is pretty cool, it goes straight up from your mouth and around your forehead. We use this in the surface discipline.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #15

Gotta love the cheerleading culture in the US (for the cool girls) and marching band (for the square girls). I married a marching band girl who turned out way cooler than any cheerleader so I don't think you missed much when you quit. And ballet produces the coolest girls! Thanks Lisa Gallagher

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #14

Dean Owen I commend you for doing something that seemed like an obstacle. You did well, my friend! I was never a power swimmer. I remember being past up on HS because girls parents had major connections that my single mom (a widow) didn't have. I was a cheerleader for years and in my 10th grade year I didn't make the squad. I did everything right, unlike a few who seriously stunk and had no ability. It pushed me to go outside of my boundaries and find other interests. I even went back and took ballet lessons again, just for myself. I had graduated to toe shoes by my 6th grade year and had to practice with gals who were in HS. I was so intimidated I begged and begged my mom to allow me to quit. She finally gave in. I have to say, I was able to remember much of what I was taught over the years but I wasn't as limber as I was when younger. The Russian man in the video, wow! Thanks for sharing your story!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #13

Thanks Gert Scholtz. I don't think there is any relation. My school was original for sons of poor clergy (talk about niche marketing!). Would have loved a school trip to SA but unfortunately had to settle for Calais.

Gert Scholtz

5 years ago #12

Dean Owen Really enjoyed this Buzz! My son is at St John's College in SA. Maybe a link with your Alma Mater?

Dean Owen

5 years ago #11

And what a great comment to end my day. Thanks for stopping by Don Kerr.

don kerr

5 years ago #10

What a lovely way to start my day with another wonderful story from Dean Owen. I'm not sure that something that takes place entirely underwater would make for great viewing however, I was amazed to watch the different kicking styles of the 'dolphins'. Very cool!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #9

lol Pascal Derrien, I swim 50m with a plastic swimming aid and you run and cycle across Ireland. You da man!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #8

It is a really cool sport. I just wish I got my first mono fin before becoming a slave to the corporate world. I'd vote for cricket too (One day, not five!). Table tennis huh? Extremely popular where I live, in fact, that explains why the streets are empty right now! Thanks CityVP Manjit

Dean Owen

5 years ago #7

Well sinking is a sport (we call it freediving though). From the sounds of it, you could do very well at it if you don't mind the dying bit that is likely to occur when you break the world record 214m (no limits apnea)!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #6

lol Pascal Derrien, I swim 50m with a swimming aid and you run and cycle across Ireland. I'd say you da man!

CityVP Manjit

5 years ago #5

Never ever heard of finswimming and now I have seen it for the first time, all I can say is WOW! . To swim under water for 50 meters is as Olympian a feat that I can ever think of. How can one even begin to compare that with pistol shooting. As the athletes walked into the Olympics there were people marching who did not remotely resemble what I conceive of as an athlete - so unless there is a quota on the number of swimming competitors eligible as overall admissions to swimming contests, I don't see why this sport is not at least given a demonstration slot. Having quickly looked over the lay of the land in browsing, I noted that if Rome win the 2024 Olympic bid it will introduce cricket but if Hungary win the 2024 bid it will introduce Finswimming as a demonstration event and why not, I can see that Hungary won 18 medals at the Finswimming World Cup. Anway enough of this, I need to check my Olympic broadcast schedule just in case there is another death-defying, brutal contact sport of table-tennis today. Oh No! the Mens Singles Semi-finals is in progress as I speak. Lets be honest table tennis bats do like flippers for the hand don't they?

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #4

How about Olympic Sinking? My body is as buoyant as a boulder. My wife can lay on her back, cross her hands behind her head and float like a piece of styrofoam. I have often said, "If I drown, look for my body in the deepest part of the lake, because that's where it wants to head when I'm swimming". I do love swimming in salt water, since I find that I have an almost magical buoyancy. Even then, they didn't have to add a weight belt to help me submerge when diving.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #3

#2 Fun times. So what do you think? Olympic sport? Gotta be better than synchro swimming no?

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #2

"All nine of them" Had to chuckle at that one. We need to create a hive for self effacing humour Dean-san. I'd give the captaincy to you hands down.

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #1

Impressive captain :-)

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