Archive for the ‘swim’ Category

Provincial Park Image of the Day: Sandbank

April 8, 2013

It appears that the entire park, in Lake Ontario, in Prince Edward County, is, as the name suggests, simply one or two large sandbanks.

Today’s photo comes from a Roadstories article on Provincial Parks.

The place looks to me somewhat like Wasaga Beach moved from Lake Huron to Lake Ontario.  The park has many campsites but I suggest a vigorous shaking of anything that comes into your tent -children included!  I am too young to remember but my mother tells me that she was constantly cleaning the sand out of our home in Wasaga Beach.

That caution duly given, I want to visit this park.


Ontario Parks

Friends of Sandbank


Youtube video of park …and now I’ve learned how long 4:36 can be – the images in the video are fine but there is no audio, not even background music.

Prince Edward County.

Arrowhead Provincial Park and more (Second week in Canada)

February 21, 2013

Feb 11 to 15 was TLG’s first (and only, as yet) full week of school as his first and third weeks both had snow days.  He has settled into school and enjoys it.

We are still working on finding food for him and getting him to try new foods.  He likes ham sandwiches and peanut butter sandwiches and has eaten great amounts at supper but we can’t find much in the way of fruit that he will eat.

The weather has continued interesting with bitter cold followed by thaws, driving snows followed by rain.  Indeed, this week (really our third) there have been two snow days with the latter one entirely justified but the former a poor example of prediction.  The house quickly becomes cramped and boring for a seven year old so he prefers to go to school, nearly as close as the one in Korea and less than ten minutes on foot away.

Penetanguishene’s Winterama was on the weekend and we watched the parade Friday night.  The parade was short as many school teacher unions are recommending against participating in after-school events.  Also, some schools had problems with the theme “The War of 1812″.  In watching the parade, I saw a lot of references to local history but none specific to our War of Kicking US Butt.  I do understand, in a general way, that we shouldn’t glorify war but it is also local (European, and so recorded) history and this region has more of that than much of Ontario.

Anyway, we enjoyed the carnival Saturday morning and TLG saw his first bit of hockey.  Although I am thoroughly Canadian, I was too uncoordinated to enjoy playing the game and so never pushed the sport on him.  I did enjoy the camaraderie and sportsmanship I saw on Saturday, but TLG was non-committal.  He rode a pony, a hay-wagon and a snowmobile and we watched some of the “polar plunge”.  I think the Busan Polar Bear Swim has spoiled me for lesser events.

That afternoon, we went to Bracebridge and visited with friends.

On Sunday, we went to Arrowhead Provincial Park to skate and tube. Good times but would have been great -and still well below freezing – if it had been ten degrees warmer.

We also swam at the fantastic Bracebridge pool, enjoying a slide, a full size pool, a kids pool and warm-tub.

Monday was “Family Day”, a new holiday that allowed us to spend more time with my Bracebridge friends.  We tobogganed at Kerr Park in Bracebridge and loved it although I had a bad landing and really felt it the next day.

Tuesday and Wednesday (today) are snow days here.  Yesterday threatened freezing rain but was only warm and dry.  Today, there is a lot of blowing snow.  I like it.

Hwamyeong Waterpark

August 10, 2012

I’m not sure if “waterpark” needs to be in quotes above, but it sure fits the bill for kids in early elementary school.  This is no competitor for Caribbean Bay, but it is a great place for a family to spend the day and I think around one-twentieth the price of Caribbean Bay, too.

Indeed, Busan does children’s aquatic entertainment right, with free fountains and shallow pools (Samnak Park’s 60 cm deep pool is great and just a little downstream of Hwamyeong) spread throughout the city.  Hwamyeong isn’t free, but plenty cheap; two thousand for the little guy and four thousand for me.

Hwamyeong consists of one large pool, most of which is eighty cm deep, plus a ‘river pool’ and water playground.

Here is the large pool:


and the playground:


and the river pool:

This pool has a strong current that pushes you at quite a clip.

The parasols seen in the background of a few photos are free.  They are also quite low to the ground; during the times I saw a lot of blue bathing suits, I felt like a Smurf under a toadstool.

I guess if more westerners visited, these loungers would see more action:


I went to the park with my son and we met his uncle and aunt and three cousins.   I had a great but exhausting time shepherding the kids but noticed that most kids had no adult nearby.  The lifeguards seemed vigilant but I just can’t understand Korean parenting around beaches, pools and waterparks.

As for me, the four kids frequently wanted to go to diverse places and I struggled to keep them all under my eye.

We all had fun in the river pool.  I would hold the youngest and spin around as the current pushed us around.  The water was just deep enough for me to kneel and slide my shins or feet along the bottom. When we left the park, I found my toenails had been ground down quite thin.

English Busan tells us:

Opening hours are from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. and the price is 4,000 won for adults, 3,000 won for youths and 2,000 won for children.
How to get there: Take Metro Line No. 2 to Sujeong Station then leave by Exit No. 3, or take Bus No. 15, 59, 111, 121 or 126 and get off at Sujeong Station.

For more information, please contact the Busan Nakdong River Project Executive Office at 051) 333-3238. 

I want to go there again!  I would describe it as a better than the Dadae waterpark I visited a few weeks ago, although the other attractions in Dadae – the fountains and beach- may give it the edge overall.


The Games start soon!

July 27, 2012

Tomorrow night, my son and I will be watching Olympic swimming, and probably other sports and events.  I’m excited to see what the swimmers can do but also am envious of my son’s idealistic view of The Games.

If I were to write down my own version of an Athlete’s Credo, it would describe wanting to do my best but also wanting the same for my competitors.  I would prefer to win or lose and be secure in my belief that the outcome was correct.  If I were to win, I would want my opponent to say something like, “I did my best and you were better” rather than “If I’d had a better start…”.

Of course, I won’t be there competing and perhaps people who have put enough effort into getting there have different priorities.

Back to contrasting my son’s view of The Games with mine.  He doesn’t notice all the politics involved.  He happily sings the jingles of the Olympic-themed advertising.  He doesn’t know that one of Korea’s IOC representatives is a convicted felon who was pardoned specifically so as to improve Korea’s chances of hosting the ’18 Olympics.  He hasn’t read The New Lords of the Rings.  Again, I envy him.

I will not be burdening him with my views of the games for a decade or more.  Unlike Santa or Jesus, the idealism of The Games is not  imaginary.

I’ll probably share this story with him.

Kang Seung-woo gets it.

In my time zone, it looks Like Bak Tae-hwan is swimming 400 free at 6:52 tomorrow night. Finals around 4:00am Sunday morning.

Children’s water park in Dadae

July 3, 2012

My son and I had a great afternoon at the new waterpark at Dadae Beach.  The location has a lot to offer children and a few things for adults as well.

  1. The waterpark is right on the beach which has a very gentle slope so there is lots of room for running and playing in shallow seawater.  At the beach, one can also take classes in kite-boarding and small-boat sailing.
  2. The somewhat-famous giant fountains are next to the park and beach and kids can also cool off there.  At night, there is a remarkable laser and music show at the fountains.
  3. Mollundae anchors the southern tip of the beach and has shaded hiking trails and an exploratory boardwalk.  I think it would be fun for strong-swimmers to hike through Mollundae to the open water side and snorkel or swim there, although I have never done this.
  4. There is no Starbucks but most other purveyors of cold drinks and ice cream are nearby.
The park itself has five pools.  Two are mostly for their rental boats; electric and hand-paddle boats

Two others have inflatable slides and most kids loved them – just scary enough.

Although these four pools had specific uses, many kids were splashing around in them as well.

Apparently, I don’t have a photo of the big pool.  It was around thigh deep and had several inflatable toys in it for the kids to climb on and try to tip.  The depth was sufficient for me to relax in yet not too scary for my seven year old son.  The bottom is strangely lumpy as it is just vinyl placed over beach sand.

The pools were evacuated for fifteen or so minutes every hour-and-a-half.  At those times, and others, this inflatable toy was popular.


Around the pools were large shaded areas that were pleasant to sit in and relax.  There was a stage for performances and a sign offering draft beer but I didn’t partake.

Our visit on July 1 was free as part of the ‘grand open’.  I think regular admittance will be around six thousand won, perhaps a thousand cheaper for kids and a thousand more for adults.  Tickets to ride the boats were five thousand for the electric and three thousand for the paddle.  In the big pool were ‘hamster wheel’ inflatables and I don’t know the pricing for those.

The park was a lot of fun and my son and I will definitely return.  We may make a full day of it, starting in the surf and catching crabs and shrimp near Mollundae, then using the park showers to wash the salt off.

privileges for varsity athletes

June 4, 2012

I talk about myself a lot in this post so I should start by clarifying a few things.  I was an athlete while at high school and university and a fairly good one.  I kinda-sorta reached the national level of competition during a few years of university.  I once qualified to try out for the Olympics but knew my chances were so low, I went on a biology field trip instead of Olympic Trials.  In the world of competitive swimming, I was very good, but definitely not great.  Now, to talk about great athletes:

In Canada, I don’t recall receiving many privileges in support of my athletic training.  At university, my competitive swim training was entirely free and if I missed a class due to a competition, my professor was obliged to allow me to make up missed tests or  assignments or the like in another way.  Nowadays, athletes at university have to pay for some of their training.

There was a quiet scandal at my university about an American basketball player who had joined our school and basketball team.  Reports were, he wasn’t attending class nor handing in assignments.  The guy was only there to play.

Here in Korea, university students are not required to attend classes or take tests and have other benefits.  The Korea Times recently published an article on the subject -the first of a series.

“Recently, a professor talked indirectly about the privileges for athletes when he raised an issue over figure skater Kim Yuna’s teaching practice, arguing that as a senior at Korea University’s physical education department she lacked the qualifications to participate in teaching practice. The professor was threatened with a lawsuit by Kim’s agency and was overwhelmed by a Yu-na-supporting Internet mob.”

First let’s look at this specific situation.  If she were teaching physical education, then I argue that she has had more first-hand knowledge of teaching and coaching than almost anyone on the planet.  From the example of her own excellent coaches, to the lessons of anatomy she received with therapy from multiple injuries, she doubtless has the background to coach most sports.  At my high school, phys. ed. teachers also taught sex education and I can’t say one way or the other whether Kim Yuna would know what to say there.  In the US, sex ed is so politicized and regimented that proper training is probably unnecessary.

Second, let’s look at the general situation.  I have had many athletes who skipped classes with the university’s blessings and I don’t think many of them went to the Olympics.  Kim Yuna probably speaks English well, having trained abroad for many years.  My students, whom I only saw on paper, couldn’t string three words together.  I think the unnamed professor in the quote above has a point.

“In addition, the members of the 2002 World Cup squad including Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung, and Korean baseball players participating in the improvised World Baseball Classic (WBC) in 2006, had their military service waived after each side got out of the group stage for the first time in history and reached the semifinals. Both exemptions were hurriedly established exemptions, which raised voices against the extreme favor.

In Korea, all able-bodied men over 20 are required to serve in the military for about two years under the country’s mandatory conscription system.”


“Looking back in history, there were some renowned sportsmen who joined the military, fought in wars and even lost their lives during their heydays. Boston Red Sox great Ted Williams, the last player in MLB to bat over .400 in a single season, was called up to serve in World War II and Korean War, while Pat Tillman, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals in the National Football League (NFL), enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2002 after turning down a contract offer of $3.6 million (4.25 billion won), only to be killed by friendly fire during his service in Afghanistan in 2004.”

There is a huge gap between the quotes above.

I don’t know much about Williams although I have met a pitcher who struck him out, but Tillman was a volunteer.  The whole argument over conscription is more important than that of a few privileged athletes but not one I don’t intend to get into now.

My main concern here is that the age of conscription is also the age of peak performance for many athletes.  For a competitive swimmer, losing two years to the army would require at least two years to return to that form.  The army training would keep the guy fit but all the subtlety of technique would be lost.  So a twenty-year-old, nearly-Olympic-level swimmer would join the army, then at age twenty-four would be in the same position.  Four years is a lot.

“But Park said there is no leg[al] evidence that medalists improve the national brand or glory by winning medals at international competitions.

“Who remembers where the gold medalist in canoeing at the Beijing Olympics came from?” he asked.”

I didn’t remember and so looked it up.  Still, I think the world knows that Korea is the home for Olympic violence (if it could be used to hurt people, Koreans win medals at it).  I think Park is likely correct but he has also carefully chosen his example. As a competitive swimmer, I had some tiny degree of recognition at school, but the team sport players on the basketball and hockey teams were far better known.  If Park had asked about the Olympic Gold medalists in Hockey, baseball, soccer or basketball, more people would have answered.

At the same time, Park Tae-hwan is famous among swimmers the world over.  If Park had asked canoeing enthusiasts, he would probably have gotten the correct names.

“Another problem is that medalists from the Olympics or Asian Games are awarded monthly pension money after they reach 60. Amid escalating negative comments on the system, the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) is set to take an action to revise the current law.”

Wow.  This is something I would like to have waiting for me.  Rising to the level of Olympian is hard on your body.  I have already pointed out that I was nowhere near that level, yet I have some minor knee and shoulder problems now.  Perhaps Olympians or Asiad medalists don’t need assistance so much as everyone does at that age and a more universal care package should be arranged.


Updated: The day after I posted this, I had a final exam with a student who is also an athlete and permitted to skip classes and homework.  The student, very correctly and responsibly, had informed me early about her training schedule and inability to attend classes.  We made arrangements long before the exam and I commend her planning.

The exam was terrible.  It was an oral exam and I ended up speaking more Korean than she did English to try to elicit any answers from her.  At the end of the exam, I wished her well, saying, “I hope you’re a good [sport name redacted]”.  Two coworkers overheard me and remarked on the backhanded remark.

This student presumably does well in her sport and her sport is a very competitive one in Korea.  If she had made it to the Olympics, she could have used that name-recognition to find work afterwards.  As she has not qualified for the Olympics, she is merely strong in her field but weak in background sports theory.

It reminded me of a student from a previous university who was permitted to skip my classes for most of the semester but somehow lost her protected status and suddenly needed to catch up on homework and prepare for an exam.  The outcome was not a good one for her.

odd and end

July 27, 2011

I’m travelling, so a long post is difficult.  Still, two newspaper articles caught my attention.

The Korea Times is telling us that astrologers don’t expect to find alien life in the next twenty years.  Really?  Astrologers?

The second article is from the Herald and describes Park Tae-hwan’s swimming results.  The article seems concerned that he is not winning golds in every event he swims in.  I understand that all involved want him to win gold every time but at his level the Olympic winner is often the one who seriously competes least.

By this I mean every time a swimmer completely prepares for a competition, he loses two or more months of endurance training.  I was never at his level, but in resting up for the meets my coach and I felt were important I reduced meters and intensity to the extent that after the meet, I was at the same fitness level I had been a month before the meet.  One month of high intensity work gone.

There were plenty of meets I swam tired at.  In early January, just before resting up for the provincial or national championships, I would attend up to three swim meets in a single weekend; each time swimming the gruelling two hundred breaststroke.  I practiced starts in a competitive setting, but the total meters made the weekend a swim practice, not a racing event.  My times were much slower than my best.

I don’t know what Mr Park”s plans are, but too much rest now might interfere with his Olympic training.

Riverpark in Hwamyeong Dong

July 4, 2011



I visited North District, Busan last week and found a wonderful little river park. I particularly like the natural setting in this picture framed by the clear evidence of the city around it.

The water looked clear and clean and I guess it could come from the mountain in the background so maybe it is.  Hmm, by the reasoning I just used here, this river winding through a city may be cleaner than one going through farmland.

The bird below was very close to some middle school girls and I thought for a long time that it was a statue.  Then a girl threw stones at it and it flew away, only to return to the same spot.





Mayor’s Cup Surfing Competition at Haeundae

June 26, 2011

UPDATED: The Korea Times has a good picture of a group of surfers from the competition.  In the back row, right side is Heidi (last name held back), a friend and coworker at many of Minjok High school’s summer and winter camps.  I just don’t know what so many many of them are giving the ‘call me’ hand sign for.

Original post:

My friend Melvin of Pine Ocean SUP (1,2,3 and 4) invited me to hang out with him as he promoted his fledgling Stand Up Paddleboard company during a surfing competition at Haeundae.  I happily agreed.

The weather was more appropriate for sipping hot drinks inside than being in the ocean, but I persevered.  The surfers didn’t persevere; they all had wetsuits, the cheaters.

I ended up wearing a ‘rashie’ or rashguard shirt to trick the lifeguards into thinking I belonged.  The surfboard in my arms wasn’t enough to convince them I was a surfer.  If they had seen me out on the water, they would have known I wasn’t.

Melvin’s tent could have looked like this.

…except he didn’t have a banner.  We both owe a great deal to OceanEarth, a surfing company in Busan who shared their tent with Melvin and his crew (there is a photo of their tent somewhere below).

I arrived at 10:00am to pretty good weather.

Another friend, Dusty, had also been forbidden entry until he found a rashie to blend in.

Soon, visibility dropped to around a hundred metres.

Melvin makes paddling on a surfboard look easy, but I didn’t manage to stand for more than three seconds on Saturday.  Oh, this time it is I in the borrowed pink rashie. On Sunday, the ocean was much calmer – perfect for me but not so much for a surfing comp -and I stood for much longer.

Mel not only paddles his way around, but actually surfs.  That’s impressive to me, but perhaps not to people in the sport.

The kind people of OceanEarth.

This ten-year-old was in the surfing competition.

This painter seemed to have a good eye for the surfer’s bodies but an imaginative one for the weather and color.

Perhaps I am the only one who cannot stand on a paddleboard.  They looked like they were having fun.

- ——-

Added later:

A friend on Facebook, who probably wouldn’t mind my quoting him here, had this to say about Sunday’s waves:

Sunday brought glassy, clean, overhead waves. Yet, only in Korea would a surf contest be cancelled by the “water” police because of a typhoon that “we” all knew was coming. How does this help Korean surfers? The higher-ups need to get the acts together. This is embarrassing.  

Added even later:

Korean lifeguards and Coast Guard personnel have prevented me from swimming more than once.  If the conditions aren’t as safe as they can be, aquatics officials don’t want you to risk it.  On the one hand, I am a great swimmer, even now one of the world’s best, and feel I, and anyone, should be able to judge the risks for themselves.  I saw pictures of the waves on Sunday and I would feel comfortable swimming in them – excited even; they looked great!

On the other hand, I don’t carry special “great swimmer” ID and the nations aquatic rescue teams were pretty darn busy on Sunday…

From Yonhap:

 A rescue official in South Korea’s eastern province of Gangwon was killed during a search-and-rescue operation for a missing toddler, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.

   A student presumed to be 15 years old was found dead after being washed away in rapid torrents in Chungju, 147 kilometers southeast of Seoul, according to the local anti-disaster agency.

And the Joongang:

Powerful Typhoon Meari drenched most of Korea yesterday with strong winds and torrential rain, killing two rescue workers and collapsing a bridge. Four people also were reported missing.

According to the National Emergency Management Agency, a rescuer in Sangju, North Gyeongsang, died while trying to save an 80-year-old farmer swept away by a flooding stream near his rice paddy. Another rescue worker searching for a 3-year-old swept into a nearby river in Yeongwol, Gangwon, also apparently drowned. The farmer and the child are still missing.

A 20-year-old man in Songgye Valley, Jecheon, North Chungcheong, and a 14-year-old middle school student in Cheongju were also missing after being caught in floodwaters. 

My great sympathy to the family that lost their child and my great admiration to the selfless rescue workers who risked and lost their lives trying to help.

I still think that in general people should be allowed greater freedom to swim in Korea but perhaps they were overwhelmed with work on Sunday and their decision to close even a surfing competition that needed big waves because of the big waves was reasonable.

Polar Bear or not?

December 30, 2010




This Saturday, Jan 15, will be ‘freezin’ for a reazin‘ at Haeundae – participants meet at the Wolfhound Pub, walk to Haeundae, swim and go back to the pub.  It looks like it’s for a good cause.  I can’t make it, however.



I swam in the Chosun Westin Haeundae Beach polar bear swim a few years ago, and have swam in Sokcho in January at least a few times.

Wando has a polar bear swim this January.

Does Busan?

I found this at the Busan Ilbo Polar Bear Swim website

“2011 The 24th Polar Bear Swim with Busan Ilbo.”  Looks promising.

Following the English link, however, I found this:

“period of refund : Within 1 month from the date of competition (2010. 1. 31)”

The Korean page contains the same date.

Anyone have news on the Polar Bear Swim?


Update: The Busan Ilbo link is still being updated, it seems.  I have now found two dates, January 31, 2010 and January 23, 2011.  Those other dates seem to be placeholders until they complete the pages.


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