Me And The Octopus Man

Me And The Octopus Man

A Story by Dr. Tim Williams

Swimming is a great form of exercise and for physical therapy.

I can't remember when I first saw him. Arms flailing with every stroke as he vigorously pursued each end of the pool. As I watched from the side waiting for another lane to open up it was the way he swam that reminded me of the Octopus in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The thrashing of the arms and legs with every stroke sent waves cascading over into the other lanes. The turbulence was awesome. What a spectacle and sight to see. Never in all my years of competitive swimming from Interscholastic thru intercollegiate sports I have never witnessed such a completely unorthodox technique in swimming.  

Some would say that today's swimmers consider Johnny Weissmuller's technique was unorthodox but that is nothing compared to the way that the Octopus Man thrashes his way lap after lap. Much to the chagrin of the other swimmers who had to endure the cascading waves with every thrashing stroke the Octopus man was completely unaware of the effects he was delivering to every swimmer. As I continued to watch in shear amazement I kept wondering how he could be so oblivious to the way he must look to others. I bet if he could see what he actually looked like he probably realize that his swimming could be allot more effective and smoother if he could alter and change his peculiar style of swimming.

It must have been an eternity for many of the other swimmers who endured the turbulence of the Octopus man. Slowly one swimmer decided she could take it no more and climbed out of the pool. Now, it was my turn to join the fray. The waves pounding both sides of the pool made what should have been a smooth effortless swim to be one of survival just making it through another lap. As I struggled with every stroke just to get a breath I began to realize that through the rough seas I had ever swam in the Octopus man was actually compelling me and challenging me just to make it through my mile and a quarter swim. 

As I continued swimming through the turbulence I had to alter my stroke just so I could breath without a surge of water cascading over my head. With shear determination I kept plugging along. Though not one of my smoothest stroke techniques but nonetheless I managed to endure. As luck would have it half way through my torturous swim the Octopus man stopped at the shallow end. But, my relief was short lived because as soon as I reached the other end of the pool he pushed off again and the waves kept coming. For more than a quarter of a mile, that's 18 laps in the clubs pool, the Octopus man made each of us more determined to finish our own workouts. 

By the time I reached my last quarter mile the Octopus man had already finished. What a relief, now the pool was just a ripple, smooth as silk as they say. I gladly swam that last quarter at a more leisurely pace. Finished I climbed out of the pool and ventured off into the locker room. There I had a chance to talk to the Octopus man as he was just leaving. Standing six feet four with a very impressive physique he was quite congenial in his manner. Though not a competitive swimmer, that I could tell but, he actually was a bit faster than most people in the pool that day. As he was sipping up his bag he said he injured his back some time ago and the doctors stated swimming would be good therapy. 

As he left I got to thinking that here in Florida swimming and aquatic exercises are really not that popular as they are in New England. It is a shame because anything involving aquatics whether it is just water walking, light aqua fit exercises, aqua aerobics or lap swimming reduces stress on the body. I remember when I was just a youngster my father got and my sister and I hooked on aquatics. We both became lifeguards and I ended my professional YMCA career as a Professional Aquatic Director. But, here in Florida swimming should be the one form of physical  therapy that is most prescribed. Sadly, though it is so often the last resort of physical therapy. So many people that suffer injuries or life changing conditions could be made better if they invested the time and a little energy to the aquatic facilities that are available. 

Thinking of aquatic facilities the Swim Ex company offers current lap pools for the home. There again these compact pools offer benefits that make aquatic exercises available for the home. Convince, comfort and accessibility make home aquatic therapy a reality. I can't think of a better way to stay in shape, ease the pain of physical conditions, or just to relax after a stressful day than putting on a swim suit and immersing ones self in cool fresh water. As for me and the Octopus man well lets just say whenever he is in the pool my workouts are a real work out.  

© 2017 Dr. Tim Williams

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Added on September 18, 2017
Last Updated on September 18, 2017
Tags: Swimming, Physical Therapy


Dr. Tim Williams
Dr. Tim Williams

Tampa, FL

A feature writer for the Tampa Bay Examiner. Founded the Department of Economic Development for the cities of Salem and Brockton, Mass. more..