It’s seems only right to begin with the mind. Our buzzing, busy control centre that houses our personality, and changes constantly from conception to death. Swimming as babies helps the rapidly growing brain develop; swimming as an adult helps steady a busy mind. So that’s where this story starts.
Stimulated, suppressed, stretched, strained on a daily basis, I swore to be more mindful this year. Like a lot of people, my mind scrambles through a million possible futures rather than experiencing the moment. Except for when I’m swimming.
When I swim, it’s all about the catch, the sweep, the pull. The rhythm of my breath, the feeling of cutting through the water, or the way this new hat is cutting into the back of my neck! When I swim outdoors, it’s intensified: with no tuck and turn, the rhythm of my stroke and breath sings without interruption through the cold water, beneath the sky. And the chafe of a wetsuit beats the squeeze of a tight hat any day of the week!
It’s a beautiful activity quite unlike any other. It’s taken me from coast, to river, to mountain lake. Last year, I started taking recreational open water swimming a little more seriously with my first open water event. And joined a club of wonderful swimming geeks to support my training.
It’s a joyful activity that does not discriminate. I’ve seen tiny babies, people with disabilities, young and elderly folk enjoy the water alike. Six years ago, I started teaching parents how to teach their babies to swim, and saw the magical, bonding experience I’d had with my own water babies play out again and again.
For me, it’s those feel good hormones from exercising, and the focus on the here and now. When I swim outdoors, it’s also just being in the world.
This blog will explore the psychology, philosophy and physiology of swimming, as well as the practical and personal aspects.