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Learning to Swim Like a Robot

After Christmas I shared a post from a few years ago, Swimming with a Hangover, where I wrote at the end:

“It’s more than just exercise. It helps us…It helps us rest, it helps us breathe and it helps us move.”  

Swimming those few lengths in that lovely pool in Lanzarote, still a bit drunk from the night before, I wouldn’t have been trying too hard to get anything right.

But I found a video from the same trip, of me working on breaststroke. I’m attempting, for demonstration purposes, to execute the stroke as taught to me twenty years ago by Steven Shaw.

I’m earnestly practising gliding, taking my time to come up for air, kicking gently with arms resting in front to create another glide.

But what I’m doing isn’t helping me rest, breathe or move. I’m hindered by the starched, heavy cloak of trying, doing it ‘right’, and there’s nothing worse!

“Stop doing the wrong thing and the right thing does itself,” Alexander said. A series of learned movements executed mechanically, robotically, isn’t what he was talking about. My breaststroke in that video is a good demonstration of what he wasn’t talking about!

Cheryl moves easily. Dancing’s her favourite activity. Have a look at her breaststroke for a freer version of the same stroke. It is possible for me to swim in a flowing way. But I don’t recommend going for that end. I recommend being in the water, floating about, letting it help us breathe and move.

Play, preferably underwater, and move about. Don’t worry about exercise, strokes, lengths!

If you’re a learner, you’re lucky in a way, because you can make a decision from the start about how you want swimming to be. Knowing how to do it right isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

What you think is what you get. A certain type of thinking produces a corresponding quality of movement. Trying to get the strokes right, swimming by numbers, produces a stiff and rigid way of moving which is opposite to going with the flow. 

 

 

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