It was a pleasant day, as I strolled over to the PAC to begin my meditative swim. The sun was shinning brightly, my iPod was playing my favorite song, and it just felt like one of those days that you would want to last forever. As I entered the PAC I felt that that walk helped prepare my mind to enter into that meditative place that hopefully this swim will take me to.
I initially thought that 2,000 yards non-stop would be a simple walk in the park, given that I was once able to swim 5,000 yard practice without a problem, but I was wrong. The first 500 yards of my swim were absolutely unbearable. I wanted the swim to end as soon as possible. As Nate Jackson said 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,” I was trying to find ways to “cheat the system,” and escape the repetitious mind games that take place is this isolated and watery prison.
I soon realized that the struggled derived from me over thinking. I was too focused on trying to perfect my stroke to the glory that it once was. I was too focused on how my kick was wrong. I was too focused on the amount of breaths I took. It was frustrating. The water was a place that was once my home, a place where I could easily control my body. It now became a foreign realm to me. The water seemed mad at me for neglecting it for such a long time, and as punishment I had forgotten how to navigate the water swiftly.
I felt stuck, and it felt like that the last 1,500 yards of this swim would last for ever in a perpetual limbo. Trying to think of a solution my mind wandered to what the class read in Lynn Sherr’s book Swim. She wrote, with regards on how to actually swim, that “it’s partly the art of surrender, following your senses rather than you brain. Some also call it being the stroke, being the pool or ocean (77), and that is what I did. I surrendered to the water.
500 yards after my surrender things began to change. I soon began to feel the wonderful rushing sensation of water flowing over my body as I performed my flip turns after each length. The sound of the water became soothing to my ears, and the silence was no longer haunting but a calm silence. The more I surrendered the more my body took over, finally establishing its own rhythm. Eventually an old techno song from the high school days drifted into my head. The repetitive, but euphoric sounds from the music adequately paralleled to the repetitive movements of my body, thus causing my mind to lull into a restful place.
It felt as if I was no longer in the pool at the PAC, but in the great wide ocean. I felt my mind drift into a fantasy of imaging rays of sunlight streaking into the water, and tropical fish swimming below me. It was the most picturesque landscape. As my mind dropped deeper and deeper into the calm meditative state I felt as if I was in Homer’s The Odyssey. I am, however, still debating on whether the water is just an elixir like the lotus of the Lotus Eaters or if the water is simply a Siren’s song clamming my mind, but hurting my body.
As the swim came to a close it was a bittersweet sensation. My body was thrilled to stop and take a rest after that long swim. My mind, however, was not too thrilled about returning to the world of normal. The best feeling though, after a long swim, is when you walk on land and feel the endorphins kick in.