On October 8th of this year I will celebrate 5 years of not only swimming but TI swimming. It has been a long interesting journey thus far. Over the years I purposefully concentrated on one or two things during most of my practices in order to wire those things into my brain (i.e. marionette arms, mail slot etc...).
Over the years I have tried to incorporate my Buddhist practice as deeply as I can into my TI practice. The crossover has been very rewarding for both practices. I found that in my morning Buddhist meditation my focus would move off of my breathing and my mind would dart around to a variety of things (work, feed my dog, that cute girl I spoke to yesterday). Gently I would bring back my concentration to my breathing. Some days are better than others, but always trying to be mindful was the key. "Its called practice for a reason," as my Buddhist teacher tells me, "we are never going to nail its just right."
Yesterday I was thinking about the elusive early vertical forearm (heretofore as EVF). I decided that the entire focus for the day would be on this aspect of my practice. I told myself to remember to focus on my lead hand and its position and to remember to pull as Coach Dave instructed in the video referenced here
Now keep in mind that I am a very slow learner and when I decided to move forward with another aspect of my TI instruction, I do so mindfully and compassionately towards myself and my learning curve. Thus the reason after five years of TI practice, I feel that I am now able to incorporate one of he most perplexing aspects of freestyle swimming.
I stood along the beach of my swim club and started off slow and deliberate. At first, like in my Buddhist practice, I threw my focus into the EVF, then as I kept swimming over the course of a 1/4 mile, I noticed that my elbow began to drop. I could quickly feel that I was not grabbing as much water as I had when I focused on an EVF position and thus my stroke distance began to fall off. I gently brought my focus back to EVF and began to see a noticeable difference in my distance per stroke and the power that brought it about once again.
When I concluded my swim I stood along the beach smiling broadly back at the water. "Namaste," I said, as I looked back upon the beautiful open water I had just excited.
It has been a long time coming but now I am very much enjoying the overall aspect of my TI stroke. I'm not saying that I have "arrived" in a sense of being a graceful Shinji or Terry-like swimmer but I have reached a point when my stroke is a bit off in one way or another, I can be mindful of how to gently bring it back.
For me - at least - I have been buoyed by my Buddhist meditation practice and its correlation to TI.
Don't fret folks :) I'm not advocating that you all become Buddhist in order to better understand TI swimming, but I am stressing that you truly be mindful when you are doing your TI practice. Place your focus on one or two things and if you find that your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your focus.
Oh sure you'll have good days and not so good ones, but remember there's always time to swim another day and try again. That's why we call it a practice. The journey is what make TI swimming so amazing.
I just thought I'd share that little nugget with you all. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this great community. I'm always excited to read about the amazing accomplishments of other TI practitioners :)