The Zen of Swimming


Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I wake up to the same inner battle:

Ok, I’ve got to get up now. I’ve got 20 minutes to eat a banana, make some green tea and get out the door, because I’ve got to be at the pool for swim class by 9:40.

In the winter, getting motivated to go jump in a pool, even an indoor pool, is especially difficult since it’s freezing outside and I have a really cozy bed warmer!

Ugh…I really don’t want to get up right now. I’ve got so much work to do. If I go to the pool to swim I’ll be done by 11:20, but then I won’t get home til noon, then I’ve got to go to the post office, then I’ve got to make lunch, then I’ve got that chapter to read about Spanish wine, and then there’s that appointment at 3:00…maybe I should just skip swimming today and start trying to tackle all this stuff I’ve got to do.

Sounds like I hate swimming, huh? Wrong! I love to swim! There’s something about swimming that takes me to a very special zen type of place. At first, there’s the cold and the water and you’re looking at the workout going, awww man! Here’s one from last week:

  1. 300 Free
  2. 300 Kick
  3. 300 Pull (breathe on left side only)
  4. 100 Choice
  5. Free Drills:
  6. 100 Finger Tip Drag
  7. 100 Catch-Up
  8. 100 Fists
  10. 8 x 50 Free Golf (count number of strokes per 50)
  11. 6 x 150 [100 stroke/50 fast kick]
  12. 300 EZ w/ 10 Pigs @ Wall

(3,200 total)

Looks like some kind of foreign language, right? It’s a bunch of different swimming drills and strokes, and not all of them take me to zen. Swimming with fists is especially difficult for me–I forget how much I use my hands to propel myself through the water!

But there’s always this moment after I’ve done the warmup, and some drills, and I’m not struggling to breathe anymore (Santa Fe is at 7,200 ft., and cardio workouts like swimming, running or rowing leave me out of breath) that I go into¬†the zone. I stop thinking about all the work I’ve got to do that day. My eyes feel soft and my breathing is steady and I feel light and smooth. The water isn’t cold, or warm, but it just feels like air. All there is is the neutral quality of the water, the rhythm of my breathing, and little specks of light on the bottom of the pool. This is when I feel like I could just swim and swim and swim.

This is the zen of swimming, and what’s so awesome about exercise in general. It must be the endorphins that bring me this low-level buzzing sense of euphoria after a good workout. I get the same zen feeling when I go through an intense CrossFit WOD, or during an Iyengar Yoga class. On days when I exercise and especially when I swim, I feel happier. I’m calmer, but with more energy, and I feel I can tackle whatever comes my way during the day. Now I’m ready to go to the post office, and make lunch, and read, and make my appointment…

Good old fashioned exercise is the best way to beat the blues, stay healthy and in shape! Kettle bell swings at the CrossFit Whole Life Challenge Finals

One thought on “The Zen of Swimming

  1. Love the article and the picture is awesome!

    On Sunday, November 18, 2012, brooksonwine wrote: > brooksonwine posted: ” Ahhh…swimming! Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I wake up to the same inner battle: Ok, I’ve got to get up now. I’ve got 20 minutes to eat a banana, make some green tea and ge” >

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