Tuesday, July 3, 2007

not natural

On Monday I showed up for my first swimming lesson. I rode my bike down to the County pool which is only about a half a mile from my house. I got there a little early for my 1 o'clock appointment. I locked the bike in the front, went inside, changed out of my bike clothes and into my bathing suit. Unfortunately the tube of sunblock I'd brought with me turned out to be empty so I did one shoulder but not the other, with predictable results today.

My swim instructor turned out to be a young man named Jason. Nice guy, patient, understanding. Seems to know his stuff. He gave me a long list of basic techniques: how to hold the hands in front of the body, pull down and all the way back, pull up and where to position the hand above the ear as it comes forward again. A lot of stuff to remember and we didn't even get to kicking or breathing.

Once again, as with running, it soon became apparent how important the mental focus is, more important than the physical. You would think that the body would naturally want to work in the most efficient way possible but that isn't so. The natural inclicnation for the body is to flail around, fighting against the water. The body is stupid. To swim effectively the mind has to purposefully and strenuously force the body into certain positions and patterns of movements that, at first, seem very awkward. As Jason demonstrated I could see how eventually the proper technique looks really smooth and beautiful, but although it gives the impression of being natural it's anything but.

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