This weekend I have been on a learning curve. Let me tell you: it’s rough. I think that the hardest thing you can do is not learn things new and fresh, it’s to unlearn what is wrong.
In my case, and as this blog is about swimming, I was unlearning a few bad, nasty swimming habits. Or maybe, I was learning how to correct them. Or maybe I was just floundering. But I don’t think that I floundered too much. I didn’t sink or die or anything like that. So that is good.
I remember a day when I was working and I said to somebody that the first three miles is always the hardest. My quick-witted co-worker instantly replied, “The rest is all downhill.”
Needless to say, I laughed. And that small exchange was my first thought when my swimming guru friend told me to keep my head down, press my chest into the water and to feel like I am swimming downhill. You don’t keep your head up anymore. It’s not important what’s in front of you. Really. Don’t look. Just swim. Keep your head down. Swim downhill. Press your chest down. Keep your hips up. Did I say this is important?
It doesn’t just pertain to swimming. I’ve been noticing this tendency in myself to be so caught up in what’s ahead of me that I am not seeing the people around me. I am not using my time and energy in a way that is most efficient, I am too bothered by a future that I am making more difficult to reach by prolonging my motion toward it. The goals will be reached, and maybe not while you’re looking… and maybe that’s okay. Leave the end of the pool to your fingertips, and keep your eyes single.
Perhaps one of the hardest, most frustrating things to unlearn is my tendency to put my arms in the water in front of my face. This is not useful. Not even a little bit. Not even a smidgeon. Not even on a molecular scale. Not at all. So I must widen my stroke, and keep my arms more shoulder width apart and running along my sides. If you think of pushing yourself out of the pool, obviously when you place your hands on the wall they are about shoulder width apart. That’s the way you get the most leverage. If you put your hands inside of that, well it just doesn’t work so well. Keep your arms out more and keep them running on tracks; no more zig-zagging “S” swipe. You are a train. Running on tracks. Your arms are the wheels of the train. They don’t cross, slide, slip, diagonal, or otherwise move from the track. If they do, you derail.
This is another good life lesson… but I’m not sure what it is right now.
Another good thing to do is to relax. You can’t carry all kinds of tension when you’re swimming, you’ll just cramp up. And die. Don’t do that. At all.
In its more global application; you are more effective, think clearer, problem solve better, smile more, and are just better to be around when you are at ease. You can make more adjustments more quickly. You can navigate situations. You can overcome scenarios. You can be. And that’s important.
So keep your head in alignment, your eyes single, your arms on track and yourself relaxed. You’ll probably make it all the way to France.