Lane 4 Aquatics
Aquatic Centre eNewsletter
Like us on Facebook
News, Events and PromotionsLatest News> Why I love Swimming (Part Two)

Why I love Swimming (Part Two)

Date: 24 October 2014
When I'm swimming, I'm in the moment.
Sensational Early Morning Swimming at Lane 4 - Stockton

The first bit of a swim is my favourite: the glide. I put my shoulders under and ready myself, lift my feet behind me to connect with the wall and push off, arms arrowed ahead and body … for a few seconds … suspended. Even in the thinking, I can feel the wall under my foot, really trying to get this bit right because it's so satisfying, a good glide. In my mind I'm a line, aerodynamic and forceful. Then engage. Pull the first arm back, kick a foot, start the clockwork, head still down before the first breath is needed. 

As I do the first length, my body starts to wake up, realising what is required; my immediate feelings are about how everything is today, the mechanics of me and it. At the start I'm a little slow. If I was a car, I'd still be in first gear.

At the end of the first length I stop, hold on to the bar for a minute and look back to the start. I'm here, I'm in, I'm doing this thing. My breathing has shifted into the right place; any slight cold-water heart-race or panting has calmed down. I'm deciding again what's already decided: shall we swim? Yes, let's. I'm ready. Let's go.

Then I'm conscious swimming. My head engaged, fixed on what my body is doing. Finding the flow, the catch, spearing my arm in. A physical mindfulness, and for a person who still hides behind the bike sheds for most "organised sports", it's a revelation. Whatever I feel about my body, right now it'll do nicely. I can start to stretch out and enjoy how clever I'm being. Imagine being able to do this – how ridiculous! It's like I can fly! How on earth did it happen? I'm in a rhythm, held by the water. I could go and go, swim to Birmingham in this state. I start to really pull back as my catch drops, and give it some power. I roll consciously into each reach, going for the next rung on the ladder. Then I'm in fifth gear.

And I start to notice and enjoy little visuals. Tilting my head as I breathe, getting that view right across the water's horizontal. The sun, if there is one, glancing off my wet arching arm. The rain, flicking and pinging the surface.

Then comes the real mindful stuff. Maybe "mindless" is a more apt word: when my body's cruising and my head goes elsewhere, solving, chuckling to itself, thinking – or actually not. Nothing. Like dreaming or being nowhere. Suddenly a leaf hitting my goggles wakes me, reminds me to invent windscreen wipers for outdoor swimmers. And then I'm back and I'm done and I get out, water runs off me and I pad to the shower, conscious of my physical self again.

 When I'm swimming, I'm in the moment fully, purely experiencing. I float free of all the shit I carry around (I'm tempted to say "literally" at this point, though of course not exactly). I'm entirely, elementally myself. Let the day chuck everything it has at me. I'm right in it, alive. I'll make time to feel alive again tomorrow.

Now how about you? What are the things that pull you back to the pool time and again?