Being that I am more of a runner than I am a swimmer I am going to make a comparison. I can go out for a run of 9 miles or better without thinking about it much when I am out on the open road or a on a trail, but when you put me on a track doing circles and my scenery doesn’t’ change I can hardly get a mile and a half in without hating life. Put me on a treadmill and I do good to finish a mile before quitting. I get bored and there is an extreme mental block for me when I am bound to staying in one place for my workout. Also I can take off with any kind of goal in mind but if something causes me to stop at any time during my run as soon as my body breaks momentum I struggle to get back into the rhythm if it even comes back at all. I think this is what happens to me when I am swimming laps in a pool. Every time I come to the wall I’m essentially stopping and starting instead of reaching an ultimate destination.
I typically enter the pool feeling really good about the day, everything is going great then as I start to fatigue instead of pushing myself through the wall that is created with endurance training I start to count laps and concentrate on my technique which is not perfected by any stretch of the imagination. I just get caught up in the act of “I’m in a workout” instead of “leaving the world behind”. Once this frame of mind starts its really hard for me to let it go. I think this is what makes me relate to Jackson’s thinking as opposed to Tsui’s perfect peace. It’s not as bad as Jackson puts it but it certainly isn’t meditative.
I have never been a swimmer as far as having any kind of professional training, however I do love being in the water. The smell of the pool and the sound of the bubbles as I exhale are the most comforting aspects to me because they are very friendly reminders of wonderful childhood memories. However an open water swim with beautiful scenery such as Lake Jocassee or Lake Keowee swimming from shore to an island on an early summer morning before the water is disturbed with recreation is more of my kind of meditation. The sounds of the birds and other wildlife, the steam coming off the water’s surface, and that feeling of being the first one of the day to make an impression are some other things that come to my mind for leaving the world behind. This is why I like to think of myself as more of an open water type of swimmer. If I have a landmark or a point of interest to swim to and from I feel like I have a much better sense of accomplishing the task at hand.