Some people are too hungry to improve their strokes so they can swim lengths for fitness, or do a triathlon.
Not Mary and Brendan, who came from Ireland this week in search of a different way of being in the water.
They’re less bothered about swimming than finding out how water can make them calmer, lighter, happier.
They’re interested in how thinking – the guiding thoughts they give themselves before carrying out an activity – determines the quality of their experience.
Alexander said, ‘People who have no fish to fry, they see it all right.’ Usually some agenda gets in the way of us having a new experience. Mary and Brendan don’t seem to have any fish to fry. They’re just open to finding out what the water can offer.
Mary says she’s not a morning person so when she gets in the water at 8.15 am, she enjoys just gliding, to get herself going. There’s plenty to think about……
How do we prepare ourselves before entering the water? What are we ‘doing’ during a glide, when we don’t need to be doing anything? What’s going on with our breathing? Are we holding our breath, forcing it or just letting it happen?
When we lose momentum, what happens next? Do we regain our feet in a calm and balanced way, watching our feet land on the floor before raising our head? Or do we throw it all away, tighten our necks and try to get our head out before we’ve found our feet?
Does our breathing feel good when we stop? Has the glide made us happier? There’s always something we can observe and learn from the glide, about ourselves.
Everyone who swims would benefit from getting into a quiet pool and working on gliding for half an hour. But we don’t tend to do it. We feel we should be swimming.
One thing the glide can teach us is quietness, in our neck, head and back. Do we disturb the water when we move through it? Or are we like a fish, almost part of the water, that no one knows is there?
Sometimes when we start adding movements to a glide, it muddies the water. Can we introduce movements of our limbs without upsetting either the water or our own equilibrium?When you’ve got a nice glide going, add some front crawl kick or sweep your arms to your sides, without changing anything in your neck/ head/ back. Go as far as you can towards swimming, without necessarily, always, swimming. A fish, with no fish to fry.