I wanted to write an article dedicated to the New Years resolution crowd. Since I’ve been a member of the swim community, I have witnesses so many individuals change their life. Many of you know that water changed my life, and created stability, both physically and mentally where there was instability. My story is readily available. I don’t want to focus on me but rather the larger picture, and I want to start this article with someone who inspired me.
In my early twenties my wife and I lived in Kansas City. While there we membered at a local YMCA. As I was trying to put in a little distance I became witness to a one legged individual who would swim on a pretty regular basis. He was solid in the water, had great streamline, and good endurance. One day he volunteered the information that he was training to become a lifeguard. From everything that I’d seen I would trust my life to him. Sure enough a couple of weeks later I saw him test out, shortly after that he took the stand, and my life was indeed in his hands. I found this to be inspirational, and of great quality.
Years later I’m again at a YMCA and run across an older man that had had multiple heart attacks. Proudly weaning his scars, he would scull for two hours daily. Due to limited accommodations, and my focus on becoming the swimmer I am today we would often share a lane. I continue to be in awe at his ability, and the core strength necessary to perform this daily feat.
Over the years, I’ve come across swimmers who have changed their lives. Two have traded out two packs of cigarettes daily for a daily 5K, and have become channel swimmers. I’ve seen amputees swim great distance, including channels with more grace than most people could with a fully able body. I’ve seen people battling their weight find athleticism and comfort with their bodies trading obesity for muscle through their daily triage. I’ve seen people who are struggling to get out of their head to find themselves, be it depression, loss, even anger find the calm of water. I’ve seen people come from a place of addiction to pain killers activate their own bodies natural systems to defeat pain. I’ve seen people who would never consider themselves an athlete, become just that regardless of the disadvantage they may face. I’ve seen athletes of other sports begin swimming to increase their strength and VO2 max gaining ability, and advantage in their primary sport.
What is this magic? It’s the birthplace of all life, the water. We the swimmers and future swimmers of this world call it home, and for good reason. For instance all of the reasons listed above and more. I consider water to be the great giver, but above that, the great equalizer for those that are looking for more. You can swim without arms and legs, not only is this possible, but proven. In addition, and in general swimmers are good natured, positive people. It’s hard to find a angry swimmer, it’s hard to find a swimmer that is not good natured, and honest. Let’s face it we are all running from or toward something, but it seams that many of us find peace in the water.
Yes it’s hard, anything worth doing will take effort, tenacity, and consistency. In my coaching I always tell new students, the uphill climb is to establish your lungs. Six weeks in the water three hours a week and you’ll have them built. Four weeks, four hours a week in the water and you’ll be close. Through that time you begin to feel your body respond through Serotonin, Endorphin and Dopamine release. You also get the efficiency that comes along with a higher level of oxygen saturation. Some people report clarity of mind, lower levels of pain, and a more level mood. Fact, it takes 31 days to create a positive habit, but only three days to break it. Additionally, you spend three weeks out of the water, and that lung capacity you once enjoyed has taken a hit. It’s important to be consistent, and stick with it for a lifetime of benefit.
The point, water is the great equalizer, and is a gentle starting place for everyone regardless of skill or ability. As a wise friend of mine has said; “There is no injury that can be caused by swimming, that can’t be healed through more swimming.” I’d like to expand on this to say, there is no injury, mental or physical that can not be balanced and strengthened through swimming. I’ll see you out there friend! As another friend of mine said; “Let’s go out for a short 4 or 5 miler someday”. I’ll go shorter, slower or longer for anyone. Faster? Well we all have limitations, I just want to see you out there. In the meantime, let us (the swimmers of the world) know what you need. I can confidently speak for us all, we want you amongst us!
With a swimmers love,
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