SPLASH BOOK REVIEW
Call the Suit; Develop the Freestyle Swim Technique Used by the Fastest Swimmers in the World
By Sheila Taormina
The author, Sheila Taormina, is known as the smallest swimmer to win Olympic gold since 1920. This is important because she explains to us how someone who is only 5-2 can swim like they are much longer. Not only a swimmer, she is also the only woman in the world to have competed in three different sports in four consecutive Olympics. Those include swimming, triathlon and modern pentathlon.
The main idea of this book is to provide swimmers of any ability level with the knowledge and understanding of freestyle technique to help cut times and move to the next level. As she mentions a few times within the book, chapters are laid out as to not confuse or overwhelm anyone, and all have a helpful summary at the end. This makes it appropriate for a wide range of readers from a beginning triathlete that is new to swimming to an experienced Masters swimmer.
Chapters start out introductory, with topics such as organizing information you hear about swimming and understanding what the author calls the "swimming equation." She breaks it down simply and uses a large text box to explain that if you multiply the number of strokes by the rate at which you take those strokes, then you have your time. By figuring out this number, you can then reduce the number of strokes you take and increase your turnover to decrease your time.
The chapters then get more in depth, giving case studies and explaining her idea of the key techniques to focus on to ultimately improve your times: underwater pull, body position and stroke counting. She backs up her theory with numerous examples from Olympic level athletes, as well as crystal-clear underwater photos to help illustrate technique.
One element of the book that I found to be especially helpful was the Appendix feature. At the back of the book are three additional sections that add a lot of interesting information and are fun to read. The first Appendix list the top twenty things that Taormina discovered while writing the book. It's full of fun facts dating back to the world of swimming in the 1920s. The second Appendix was written specifically for beginners and gives the basics of swim workout lingo. The last list answers to common questions, such as whether it's really better to alternate breathing and how using fins affects your training.
Call the Suit has an amazing way of simplifying the freestyle stroke and relating to any swimmer. The photos and added features, such as a companion Web site with video clips, allow Taormina's words to jump off the page and into your real life. It would be vital to a new swimmer, as well as extremely beneficial for the seasoned swimmer who has reached a plateau and would like to take competition to the next level.