When my body first plunges in to the water, I immediately feel like I’ve been stepped in to an aqua suit. There is a distinct feeling of transforming from dry to wet that can only be understood when first jumping or diving in to the pool. This sensation was distinctly aware to me during the first couple of laps of my meditative swim, as I was adjusting my body to the constant feel of the water.
Once I was accustomed to the water, I tried to focus on my surroundings. Usually when I’m swimming, the last song I listen to gets stuck in my head throughout the workout. I forgot this trivial fact as Bruno Mars’ mainstream pop song, “Locked Out of Heaven” looped through my head. I forgot it was playing in the background of my car on my drive over to the PAC. I quickly tried to change gears and switch my internal iPod to a new song. Eventually, I just focused on tuning out any internal noise, which was rather difficult.
I observed my surroundings and focused on aspects of my swim that I would have never recognized at a faster, more rigorous pace. I picked up on all the different trickles of the bubbles and how different maneuvers produced different noises. Compared to the sleek sound of the bubbles made after each stoke, the flip turn and pushing off of the wall made a loud WHOOSH as my body propelled through the water. I soon became enchanted with figuring out the different sounds my body could make. Just like the healing sounds of rainfall on a crisp spring day, the sounds of bubbles with each stroke provided an easy sense of calmness.
Aside from the alluring sounds of the water, I was also aware of the visual clues around me. As I took a breath, I noticed that I could see the dual image of both underwater and the above the deck and with just one look. I never noticed the capability of my goggles before in such detail. In addition, with every breath of air it looked as though there was a disco party above water. I would take a few strokes with my head down in the clear blue water and as my head would pop up for air, I’d notice the bright illuminating lights hanging from the ceiling. It was like straddling two worlds – a calm serenity underwater and a bright vibrant atmosphere above. Usually when I would breathe, the motion would be so fast-paced and fluid that I would only focus on breathing in more air and not noticing the above world. By taking my time with each stroke and breath, I was able to notice minor details that would have been easily overlooked in an average swim practice.
I have to agree with New York Times writer Bonnie Tsui in her article “The Self-Reflecting Pool”. She states that swimming is one of the only forms of exercise in which we are stripped of an external input. No plugs, headphones, texts…anything. Often during my swim, I almost felt the need to fill this void with my own internal thoughts and music, as if being quiet and empty of noise wasn’t good enough. We are all accustomed to a world full of noises, music and sounds and tuning them out is almost impossible. However, swimming brings us a step closer to the impossible as we tune out our daily electronics. Without the artificial noise of the world, I focused on the natural noise of the water. As my swim drew to a close I hopped out of the water and immediately noticed how quiet it was. I was the only one in the pool and without by intent focus of my senses, I realized just how eerily quiet the pool was out of the water.