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Bernardi's System

Source: The Book Of Sports
Category: GARDENING.

_Upright swimming._--This is a new mode of swimming, introduced by
Bernardi, a Neapolitan, and consists in adopting the accustomed motion
of the limbs in walking. It gives great freedom to the hands and arms,
affords a greater facility of breathing and of sight. It is true, that a
person swimming in an upright position, advances more slowly, but as the
method is more natural, the person is able to continue his course
longer, and can remain with greater safety in the water.

The first object with Bernardi, is to enable the pupil to float in an
upright position, and in this the head is made the great regulator of
all the motions. After having been by practice familiarised to keep his
equilibrium, a variety of motions are gradually practised, until the
swimmer is enabled at every stroke to urge himself forward a distance
equal to the length of his body, and to travel, without fatigue, at
least three miles an hour, and to continue this without great fatigue
for many hours. Bernardi, speaking of the success of his practice, says,
"Having been appointed to instruct the youths of the Royal Naval Academy
at Naples in the art of swimming, a trial of the pupils took place in
the presence of a number of persons assembled on the shore, and under
the inspection of authorities appointed to witness and report upon the
experiment. A twelve-oared boat attended the progress of the pupils,
from motives of precaution. They swam so far out in the bay, that at
length the heads of the young men could with difficulty be discerned
with the naked eye; and the Major-General of Marine, Fortguerri, for
whose inspection the exhibition was attended, expressed serious
apprehensions for their safety. Upon their return to the shore, the
young men, however, assured him that they felt so little exhausted, as
to be willing immediately to repeat the exertion."

After devoting a month to the investigation of Bernardi's plan, the
Neapolitan government state in their official report--

"That it has been established by the experience of more than a hundred
persons of different bodily constitutions, that the human body is
lighter than water, and, consequently, will float by nature, and that
the art of swimming must be acquired to render that privilege useful.

"That Bernardi's system is new, in so far as it is founded on the
principle of husbanding the strength, and rendering the power of
recruiting it easy."

The speed, according to the new method, is no doubt diminished, but
security is much more important than speed, and the new plan is not
exclusive of the old when occasions require great effort.

Little more need be said on the subject of swimming, except giving a few
directions in diving and plunging, which require to be performed with
caution and elegance. When the swimmer prepares to dive, he must take a
full inspiration of air, the eyes must be kept open, the back made
round, and the head bent forwards on the breast; the legs must be thrown
out with force, and the arms and hands, instead of being struck forward
as in swimming, must move backward. When the swimmer would ascend, the
chin must be held up, the back bent inwards, the hands struck out high
and brought sharply down, and the body will immediately rise to the
surface of the water.

_Plunging._--There are two different modes of plunging to be acquired,
namely, the flat plunge, which is necessary in shallow water, and the
deep plunge, which is used where there is considerable depth of water.
For the latter, the arms must be outstretched, the knees bent, and the
body leant forward till the head descends nearly to the feet when the
spine and knees are extended. In the flat plunge, the swimmer must fling
himself forward in an inclined direction, according to the depth or
shallowness of the water; when he touches the bottom, he must rise in
the same manner as after diving.

After all these necessary motions and movements have been acquired in
the water, there is one thing of which the swimmer must beware, and
against which art and precaution can do but little--this is the CRAMP.
When this seizes the swimmer, he must endeavour, as much as possible, to
avoid being alarmed, as he will reflect, that as the body is lighter
than water, a very little exertion in it will keep his body afloat. Of
course his first thoughts will be towards the shore, but he must not
forget, that the cramp being only a muscular contraction, may be thrown
off by proper muscular exertion. He must strike out the limb violently,
and bringing the toes towards the shin-bone, thrust his feet out, which
will probably restore the muscles to their proper exercise; but if the
cramp still continue, he can easily keep himself afloat with his hands,
and paddle towards the shore, till some assistance comes to him. If one
leg is only attacked, he may drive himself forward with the other, and
for this purpose, in an emergency, the swimmer should frequently try to
swim with one hand, or one leg and one hand, or by two hands alone,
which will be easily acquired.

Should a companion be in danger of drowning, it is our duty to use every
exertion to save his life; and, indeed, not to use the utmost exertion
is a high degree of moral guilt, but in doing this, we must not rashly
hazard our own life, nor put ourselves into a position in which the
swimmer can cling to us or grasp any part of our body, or the loss of
both will be inevitable. It will be better in all cases where bathing is
practised, that there should be ropes and planks at hand, and young
swimmers should never venture far into the water without such means of
rescue are available. In conclusion, we would caution all who go into
the water, against remaining in it too long, as nothing can be more
dangerous; and we would further advise that the practice of bathing and
swimming be not only common to boyhood, but be continued in after life,
as few things tend more to the preservation of HEALTH.

Next: Gardening

Previous: Preliminary Exercises In Swimming

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