A couple of months ago I began a new practice. I decided to form a habit of swimming laps each day. It has been a great journey. Instead of the old, reluctant, “Alright, I’ll go to the gym”, I now say, brightly, “I’m going for a swim!” Now, that may sound like I’m taking it easy, not pushing myself to my best health. In the end of May I began swimming laps, 50 laps each day. I vary the types of swim strokes for each lap. Freestyle is the most difficult for me. So, I include backstrokes, sidestrokes and breast strokes. (I read an article that said, “Even if you’re only doggie paddling, swimming can be effective.”) It was the best I could do at the time. My form was all over the place. I kept saying that by the end of the workout, I was basically just trying not to drown. After swimming just about every day for the last 60 days, I now swim 70 to 80 laps, with an increased number of freestyle strokes. I’ve added an underwater calisthenics routine to the end using the water resistance to make it more difficult. I have even increased the number of reps I do since beginning that. It sounds like I’m bragging… and I guess I am. I’m proud of myself, but I’m really not sure that I should be so proud. I’ve never found a regular workout to be so enjoyable. The reason that, at the beginning of this paragraph, I referred to it as a “practice”, as I do my spiritual practice, is that it has now become a part of that. So what follows is a typical swim for me, in poetic form. Who is fortunate enough to have a workout that sparks poetry? Well, just me, as far as I know. So here it is.
Lap #1 – I’m thinking, “ow, my shoulders hurt and I can barely breathe! I’ll be lucky to make it to 25 laps.
Lap #5 – Ok, this is getting better.
Lap #6 – is a rest lap, backstroke, my face is out of the water. I can breathe;
Lap #10 – powerful freestyle lap, look at me go!
Lap #15 – Oh, no, another freestyle lap… 30 laps today… that’s it… tops!
Lap #25 – Rythm – Yes! I will reach my goal;
Lap #27 – 7’s and 2’s are breaststroke laps, I improve my form, focus on the muscles moving;
Lap #30 – 10’s, 5’s and now 8’s and 9’s are all freestyle. A feeling of accomplishment comes in.
Lap #35 – Thank the gods the next lap is a backstroke!
Lap #41 – 1’s are always backstrokes, rest, breathe after the three consecutive freestyle laps you’ve just completed.
Lap #42 – Breaststroke. 42 reminds me of “the meaning of life”, and suddenly, everything’s zen. The water passing over my skin feels like silk. I notice the reflection of the rippling water casting flickering light on the sides of the pool. I hear the sound of my limbs moving through the pool from under the surface of the water. As I breathe, sometimes a little water comes into my mouth and I can tasted the chlorine. I spit out with the exhale and form a small rainbow in the sun with the spray. A bee buzzes by and I ask him, politely, to “Please, leave me bee”, as I simultaneously notice the smell of the nearby flowers, all while still performing my perfect form breaststroke.
Lap #50 – this is how many I used to do. Piece of cake!
Lap #70 – Apparently “runner’s high” is not exclusive to runners. It’s 100 degrees outside and I’m suddenly feeling a chill, a tingle.
Lap #71 – and now I’m on a breaststroke again. Breathe, move, feel, flex muscles and a beautiful mermaid swims beneath me, facing me, smiling and glowing.
Lap #79 – I realize the mermaid is me (my shadow). I smile.
Lap #80 – Triumph!
Yea, this works for me.
Blessed be, readers!