Going into this meditative swim, I can honestly say I was not excited. I was tired and would have rather been sitting on the couch watching HGTV. However I was able to motivate myself because 1) I had to for our assignment and 2) I knew I’d feel so much more energized after my swim. Throughout all of my years of swimming I have never swam solely for a meditative purpose. I have done long swims before-the 400 and 500 free at swim meets-but I never willingly went out to focus on my thoughts and how the swimming makes my body feel.
I have always thought of swimming at therapeutic, just like in the article “The Self-Reflecting Pool” by Bonnie Tsui in the New York Times. Her description about sliding into a pool being the most effective way of disconnecting from technology-my phone, twitter, Facebook, Instagram, my computer, Netflix, and my television- is incredibly relatable to my meditative swim over the weekend. My mind would occasionally slip into thinking about checking this app or writing some tweet, but it was absolutely impossible for me to get on my phone and that was a great feeling. I wasn’t connected or obligated to answer any emails or text anyone. I was only obligated to continue swimming my laps. This differs greatly with running or even working out in the PAC. For me to run I have to have music playing which means I have to have my phone on me, which also means I know when I’m getting a text, email, or call.
Even though it was a great exercise at disconnecting from the excitement from the world, my meditative swim was honestly boring and made me feel at times a little lethargic as Nate Jackson describes in his article “I’d Rather Go Through NFL Two-A-Days Or Make Myself Puke In The Pool Than Do What Michael Phelps Does”. While reading his article my thoughts quickly turned to how I felt during the last few years of swimming competitively. My summer league team was always a blast. It was more for the social aspect than cutting time and making it to State A’s. My year-round team was a whole different story. Even while doing my meditative swim I felt the pressure of only having my thoughts being in my head without another distraction.
I would describe my meditative swim as a healthy mix between Tsui’s and Jackson’s articles. The gentle release of bubbles from my nose between breaths, the repetition of strokes, and especially the weightless yet powerful streamlining from the wall after the flip turn all brought me back to center and reminded my why I originally loved swimming so much. It was more difficult for me to focus on the purpose of the swim because of the various distractions in the pool around me-a little boy, probably 4 years old, learning how to swim with his dad, older women doing their exercises, and other lap swimmers. I kept getting distracted and honestly focused more on what time it was than my strokes, endurance, and how my body felt. Because of my inexperience with long distance swimming, I ended up breaking up my long swim. I used a kickboard once and did some of each stroke throughout my swim, but I feel like that helped me focus much better.
Sherr, Lynn. Swim: Why we Love the Water. New York: PublicAffairs, 2012.
Sprawson, Charles. Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992.