Where is your head when you swim?
While you are swimming do you drift off with the fairies or are you working through your to do list for the busy day ahead?
Did you realise that if you are more present whilst swimming you will enjoy it more?
It is also a vital skill to becoming mentally strong in the water. This strategy will enable you to be more focused on training for a particular event as well enjoying the scenery of the pool or beach where you are swimming.
Becoming stronger mentally in the pool means that you will have a higher success rate in the challenges you set yourself as a swimmer.
When I first started training for marathon swims my strategy was to focus on the past and the future. I used to think that this would help, especially when the swimming was hard.
I was wrong!
This became very apparent when I started to complete some longer sessions in preparation for my English Channel swim. When you concentrate too much on the thoughts whirling around your head, long periods in the water start to drag by. It becomes all too easy to find yourself dreading your next session and finding those long swims boring.
I know you have already heard this many times in other areas of life but the secret is to be present.
Being focused only on the moment during your swim will not only be much more beneficial health wise but it will also make your swim more enjoyable if you are present during your swim. It is the key to becoming a mentally strong swimmer.
I strongly believe I would not have completed my English Channel swim without practicing this skill. I have also seen the benefits of being present in many other areas of my life too.
We spend a lot of time worrying about what we have already done and what we have to do. More time needs to be spent on being here, right now.
So how can we practice being more present in the water?
Here are some easy steps to gradually becoming more present.
Focus on your breathing during your swim.
This does not mean just counting your breaths in and out. Instead tune in to feeling the air enter your throat, then your chest and finally your lungs. Pay attention to that small moment in time where you pause between the in and out breath. Then concentrate on the air leaving your body and the areas it passes on the way out. Again noticing that moment when you are balanced between the out and in breath before you start the cycle again.
Focus on your technique.
Being in the moment means being aware only of your present task. As a life long swimmer, your stroke and technique are by now just subconscious movements. Bring them back into your conscious thoughts by paying close attention to how your body is moving. Notice how the water feels on your skin during those movements and how you are cutting through the water.
Remember being present is a skill that requires practise and patience. Don’t expect to be able to do it straightaway or even constantly. We all have bad days where it is harder to stay in the moment. Be patient and kind with yourself and this will eventually become a habit.
Try a couple of these strategies during your next swim session. It’s okay to have your thoughts wander when you first start. Just bring them back to the present and start again.
We would love to hear how these techniques enrich your workout and ultimately your life in general. Do you have any other techniques for staying present during your swims? Make sure you share them below.