October 14, 2005
Anybody out there ever have to do rehab after knee surgery? I’ll bet you were urged to do water workouts, to build circulation and range of motion while avoiding stress or loading up the joint.I liked my water workouts as long as I had somebody to chat with, but it grew tedious when treading water alone.My first idea was to listen to music on a CD player while I worked out. This made the time go faster, but I had to linger near the side of the pool so I wouldn’t drag the device in with me. I arranged a system to keep the player dry, and draped the cords to the headset over the ladder railing. This was OK, but I could only tread water and not actually swim.Then I read about the Finis SWIM-P3, a waterproof music player that actually works underwater. The music is transmitted not through earphones, but through pads that stick on your face and vibrate your facial bones. Unfortunately, this $250 device sounds horrid unless your face is immersed in water. And that was the problem for me – most of the time during a water workout my body is immersed but my face is above the water. I have seen a few triathletes training with this gadget, but it wasn’t for me.Then I found out about the Oregon Scientific MP-120, which is much cheaper (about $100) but delivers the sound with traditional waterproof earphones. It’s so compact that you can clip it to your swimsuit or wear it on a headband or goggle strap. It stores more than an hour’s worth of music, and needs recharging after about eight hours of use.The earphones are a little fat for my ears, but I solved that problem with a neoprene headband to hold the earphones in place. I would also prefer a little more volume than it provides at the highest setting, and the screen and controls are almost too tiny to read and control. One more drawback: the only way to recharge is by plugging it into your computer. They don’t have a recharging gizmo to take on the road.On the other hand, it has an FM radio if you can keep your head completely out of water for reception. (With MP-3s, you can submerge your head up to 3 feet, and it works equally well in or out of the water.)There is one more possibility: a waterproof silicone case for your regular iPod or MP3 player. That’s about $75, but it winds up being bulky for a swimmer.