A concern I’ve heard from some of my longer-term students – those that have integrated the skills we’ve been working on – is that they don’t feel like they can consistently get into their best swimming from practice to practice. One day they may get in the pool and things come together quickly, nicely, and on another, they just can’t seem to find it.  That inconsistency is frustrating and they are not sure why it is so. 

My response…

First, it is helpful to acknowledge that rarely does the same swimmer show up at the pool from day to day. You have different internal and external conditions affecting your mind, your nervous system, and what resources you have for practice. 

One of the most important benefits of doing a so-called warm-up is to go through a routine pattern of movement that allows you to see what your body is saying about its condition and resources on this day, which should then highly influence what you choose to do for the rest of that practice, even if you have a pre-planned workout you are supposed to follow. You would follow the same routine in this warm-up so that you can more easily compare how your body is doing from practice to practice and learn to read the signals and respond to them productively and compassionately. 

Then, whether it comes together quickly or takes longer than usual, there is a prioritized set of objectives to pursue in the first part of your practice that will set things up for a more successful and satisfying experience.

Connect your mind to your body.

Bring your mind into the pool and then into your body. In other words, turn attention away from what has been going on outside and focus it on the raw sensations inside your body. At first, don’t try to perform, just feel and observe. 

Connect all the parts of your body.

Once you are mentally present in the pool and in your body, connect and harmonize the position and movements of your body. Set the frame along the spine and then align your appendages and then coordinate movements to protect that frame and channel the flow of energy along the spine. Establish the base position of the swimming body and then get the rhythm going at a gentle effort level. 

Connect the body with the water.

Once your body feels connected internally, then tune that body position and movement to improve cooperation with the water. Fine-tune the frame, the position of the body relative to the surface, and the alignment and streamline of the appendages so that water flows more smoothly along the body line (or, you feel like your body slides more easily through the water).   

Then increase the challenge on your body.

Once you feel the flow of water smoothing out, then start changing the training conditions and intensity according to what your objectives are for this practice time.  

At least two kinds of people may struggle with feeling inconsistent from practice to practice:  1) those who simply don’t have an understanding of warm-up, or have a process in mind for how to practice, and 2) those who feel impatience about getting to the ‘real part’ of their workout and therefore skip doing a meaningful warm-up. 

For person #1 I’ve just offered a logical process of preparation. You will not only enjoy the practice of swimming more, you will also perform better when you always start with tuning up your mind-body-water instrument. 

For person #2 it will help to have an understanding that reaching your potential for highest performance in swimming is dependent on how well you express strength through skill, and the essence of skill in swimming follows that series of connections – mind to body, body to itself, body to water. Efficiently powerful swimming is achieved through those connections. Those who are strongest – i.e. those who are consistently patient with this process of preparation in practice will end up more consistently performing at their best on any given day. 


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