After work this afternoon, I drove up to Lake Minnewaska to swim laps, as I usually do a few times a week in the summer months.  Last week I swam a mile, my usual distance, almost entirely front crawl – not my usual stroke.  It felt like a victory; usually, there are triathletes swimming alongside me (rather, passing me), and they swim nothing but front crawl.  I understand why.  It’s faster than most other strokes, and relatively energy conservative.  So I thought that was what I was supposed to do, and last week I did as much of it as I can manage.  I learned something last week.  I learned that I don’t like front crawl.  It’s boring.  There’s nothing to really look at because my head keeps shifting position, and I can’t really think about anything either because I’m constantly trying to remember whether I’m supposed to breathe on my left or my right next.  Yes, it’s faster, but who the hell cares?  I’m not racing anyone.  I’m not training for anything.  I’m swimming because it feels good to be in the water, and I like to swim.  Rushing through it completely defeats the purpose.

So this week I started with front crawl, started to remember all the reasons I don’t like it, and I changed what I was doing.  I swam my laps in a mixture of breaststroke, sidestroke, and elementary backstroke.  I tried to focus on my breath today and make swimming more of a pranayama exercise.  My body knows what to do in the water, I don’t really need to focus that much on what my muscles are doing.  So I let go of that, and instead focused on breath and the sensation of water flowing over my body.  Very VERY different experience this week than last.  I swam further too; a mile plus a victory lap.

I don’t know if I need to push myself as hard as I’m accustomed to.  Or anyway, not on the same stupid things.  It doesn’t seem to win me any happiness, and I’m growing tired of taking actions with questionable benefit for myself or others.


2 Responses

  1. Its interesting that when you slowed down and enjoyed what you were doing, that the endurance came naturally. Something I am going to ponder on for awhile. Thanks!

  2. Yeah, I found that interesting too. I was talking to a friend in yoga a few months ago about swimming as a breathing exercise, and thinking about that really helped me to change what I was doing. I think I will add front crawl back into the mix eventually, but it’s totally not what I need right now.

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