Last week, I was under water, filming our Drill of the Week. The pool was pretty empty because the usual inhabitants were taking a day off after their annual swim across the Chesapeake Bay. Empty equals quiet not only above the water but also below.
When I film in a public pool, I like to make sure that I donï¿½t get in anyoneï¿½s way. On this particular day, I figured I was in the clear. We were positioned near the non-lanelined deep end. There was only one swimmer there — a gentleman in green goggles whom I say hello to just about every morning. I knew I wouldnï¿½t have too much trouble staying out of his way, so I proceeded to go under to film my subject.
I was so focused on filming my swimmer that at first the sound didn’t even register. But there it was again…coming from behind me. I turned and saw the man in the green goggles swimming past me. The sound was coming from him, but it wasn’t splashy "swimming" noises. He was singing under water. He’d take a breath…then sing. Take a breath…then sing. I had seen him swim many times from on deck, but had never really taken notice, simply because heï¿½s not the typical subject for a swim-technique website. Also, he never appeared to need help with his technique because he always seemed so happy to be swimming. And certainly I’d never been UNDER the surface when he was swimming.
Over the years, there have been numerous posts to this website about how to stop water from going up your nose when swimming. The standard advice is to hum, but this swimmer has found something even better. His solution made me think of my good friend Pierre Gruneberg, who taught me how to work with people to overcome their fear of the water. In his materials, Pierre talks about singing in the water. I always assumed it was just a thought process. This man really does it.
While this is not our usual Drill of the Week, it incorporates SO much of what we try to get across, and I thought maybe it was time to step back a bit, and remember whatï¿½s important about our sport, rather than being concerned only with HOW FAST.
When we start to swim as young people, we do it for one reason… because itï¿½s fun. If we decide to venture into competitive swimming, we often lose sight of the fun part, and focus too much on all the small fine points. While Iï¿½ve not lost sight of what it is we try to do here, I really needed this reminder of the simplicity of swimming — the sheer joy of just being in the water. No worries about intervals, streamlining, head or body position. No concern for breathing patterns, pull patterns, kick rates. No fretting over whoï¿½s in the next lane and if youï¿½re going to beat them or not. Just simply swimming back and forth, and forgetting your troubles and cares. Truly enjoying the water.
This Drill of the Week, as unconventional as it is, asks you to simply take some time and experience the water. If youï¿½re a young competitive swimmer, head to a local pool and play. If youï¿½re a Masters swimmer, close your eyes and feel the water. If youï¿½re a fitness swimmer, enjoy how the water calms and supports you after a hectic day at the office or at home.
There is no process to this week’s DOTW. There are no steps. There is no instruction to get right or wrong. This week’s drill is a simple call to enjoy the water, to take a cue from our demonstrator. Oh, and when you watch the video… crank it up!
When I asked this swimmer if I could film him, he said that he never really knew he was doing it (the singing). Says he just gets lost in his swimming, and relaxes. To me, his approach was incredibly refreshing, and actually a pretty moving surprise. This most unlikely of heros made me remember what swimming is all about. Thank you, Chin-San.