In my most recent post Change Your Swimming in Three Minutes, I suggested doing a 3-minute exercise in nose-breathing and mind-clearing prior to entering the pool for practice.
I wrote that post after several days of doing that exercise as I prepared to start a session of writing. It did help center me for somewhat less distracted writing.
I must however confess that I neglected to take my own advice before swimming this morning at Bard College. Even so, I got into a pleasantly focused and relaxed state as soon as I began swimming.
In part I credit that to mental/emotional conditioning. I start every practice with at least five minutes of super relaxed swimming. But, as today’s practice showed, maintaining peak focus is always a work in progress.
For my tuneup, I swam this Pyramid set:
My goal was to feel silky smooth while holding 13SPL; and maintaining my 50 pace as distance increased to 200 . . . then slightly quicken my pace—without sacrificing my consummate ease—as distances decreased again. I did just that, but felt a slight bit of strain holding 13SPL on the 200 and the 2nd 150. The extra effort was as much mental as physical—as it should be.
For my main task I did:
5 rounds of [3 x 50 + 1 x 200]
My goal was to swim quite relaxed on the 50s at 14-15 SPL, then swim ‘quick but quiet’ on the 200s at 15-16SPL and try to match the pace I swam on the 50s. The 50s were 42 sec, so I’d be aiming for 2:48.
I was sharing the lane with someone using a hurried, splashy stroke. Nothing unusual in that. But, besides the distraction, it created extra turbulence. On my first 200, I just missed the wall on a couple of my flip turns and my stroke count was a bit erratic. I could feel myself starting to struggle just a bit. My time on the first 200 was 2:55.
Though the time was 7 seconds slower than I’d been aiming for, I recalled exercise scientist Dr. Mike Joyner’s advice to focus on making a current time feel easier, rather than trying to swim faster.
I was aware of many small errors in that first 200 and knew I could correc them with better focus. As each round passed, the strength and consistency of my focus increased . . . and my times came down, even as I focused on swimming easier. On the final round I swam the 200 in 2:47 and left the pool feeling Mission Accomplished.
Friday I’ll swim again at Bard. I’ll spend 3 minutes nose-breathing and mind-clearing before I start.