Words of Wisdom
Unlike any other sport, swimming is the only one that is necessary as a life saving skill. I have found that people who are passionate about swimming are enigmas to those who aren’t. While I could go on about the magic of the water, the benefits of swimming, the positive mental and physical effects it has on the body and mind over time…. for days; it just wouldn’t be interesting if you’re not a water person. What I have learned however, are some valuable life lessons that are mirrored in the practices of learning to swim.
1. Don’t Hold Your Breath. This one is so obvious and yet it is something in this stressful day and age that we all find ourselves doing. I can’t tell you how many times I’m driving and realize I’ve been holding my breath at a red light. Breathing during swimming is the single most important skill. It is the one that takes the longest to learn and when I talk to adults who claim that they wished they enjoyed swimming more but don’t know how to breathe, it is often because they learned to swim by holding their breath rather than regulating their breathing. I’m sure that life is probably more enjoyable overall when one is breathing through it.
2, Lead With Your Core. All strokes stem from your core muscles. Those impressive six packs that swimmers carry are hard earned and won. In terms of life lessons, I equate that with trusting your gut. The strength of your reaction that comes from your instinct telling you something is right or wrong should never be discounted. Our core is our strongest ally both physically and emotionally.
3. Look Up. When you’re on your back, in order to float properly, you need to look up at the sky. When we’re out in the world we spend so much time looking straight ahead, we forget to look up and often there are valuable things going on right above us.
4. Look Down. In swimming, the positioning of the head is so crucial that competitive athletes spend hours doing prone gliding drills to get the position of their head correctly aligned. In life, looking down is as important as looking up.
5. Slow Down. My greatest trick to correcting stroke mistakes and sloppy swimming is simply to tell the swimmer to slow down. By exaggerating the stroke, emphasizing the movement and concentrating on details, its amazing how quickly a person’s stroke improves. In this day and age, doing things as fast as possible has become our society’s M.O., however it doesn’t mean that what is being executed quickly, is being done well or with real thought behind it. I still say, slow down and focus first, then when you master what you’re trying to do, give it some gas.
I’m sure that someone who is passionate about golf, tennis or baseball could find life’s messages in their chosen sport, however, no one would argue that swimming saves lives and when age, injury and wear and tear creep into our reality, swimming is the one sport that we can all turn to for rehabilitation; and with that a final life lesson – you always have another option.