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Swimmers, If You Fight the Water, You Lose


Swimmers, what is swimming to you? It can be a lot of things. A few of the things that swimming is for me at different times are: No matter what you do, if you do swim workouts, I bet you have had all of the above thoughts from time to time before, during, or after those swim workouts. I know I have, but I try to remind myself of the first, third, and last one as often as possible. Swimming is fun, swimming is relaxing, and swimming is good for me.

A recent pool side conversation reminded me of something. What I think about when I am swimming, and what I do about what I am thinking about when I am swimming, make a huge difference in how the workout goes for me.

Negative thoughts, thinking about things that are bothering me about life, work, etc., seem to lead to a workout going less than good. In fact, when I am focused on bad things, unconstructive things, challenges that I am framing in negative terms, my swim workouts feel more stressful. The practice feels very hard. I do not like it that way. I'm not afraid of hard work, but I want my workouts to feel good and hard, not bad and hard.

Positive thoughts, thinking about things that are going well in life, work, etc. seem to lead to a swim practice going well. If I can focus on the positives, constructive things, if I can frame challenges in terms of opportunities for successes, my swim workouts are more fun and more relaxing, even if they are hard, I am out of breath between sets, and they tire me out. In the end, it is that good kind of tired.

So what is the difference between the negative thoughts swim workout and the positive thoughts workout? I think it is fighting or not fighting the water while I am swimming.

If I am focused on the negative things, I am not relaxed, I am not flowing, and I am sometimes being too aggressive with my swimming. I am fighting my swim and I am fighting the water. I am not having fun, and I realize I am not enjoying my swim as much as I think I should. That sometimes leads to more negative thoughts, more fighting, and it spirals down from there. What to do? Stop for a bit, breath and relax, and get your brain right!

Turn your thoughts to positive ones. Anything positive. One little positive thought can do the trick. A positive word or two - positive self-talk. Sometimes a physical smile can help turn things around. Force yourself to smile - turn that frown upside down - and you may find a happy thought. Take that happy, positive thought and focus on it. Get your brain in a good place, then get back into the workout. I bet it will be a better one by the time you complete it.

Water has been around a long, long time - much longer than me - and it knows a lot more about life than I do. One good lesson it teaches is if you fight the water, you lose. So don't fight it, try to find ways to relax and work with the water. Think positive thoughts, have fun with your swimming, relax a little bit, and, while a workout can still be hard and tiring, it will be better in the end. Positive thoughts can lead to positive workouts. Positive workouts can be fun, relaxing, and good for you, even when they are hard and stressful.

Swim on!

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