Originally Posted by terry
I'm looking for YOUR insights and anecdotes to include in the new book.
I am not sure if that 'to include in the new book' is an invitation or a filter-out means... ;-)
In general I think it is a good idea to write this book, and I absolutely appreciate your enthusiasm for swimming!
So my remarks are meant to be encouraging.
E.g. this sentence got my attention:
'The human brain has been encoded by evolution to be a problem-solving machine.'
I think that 'problem solving' is a meta-function of an 'higher' entity and not a function of the brain. For those familiar with the way computer and programming languages work you might use the analogy of assembler language - which can be executed directly by the processor - and high level (=problem oriented) programming languages that need to be translated by a compiler into assembler language before the processor is able to execute it.
The basic functions of the brain are (amongst others) to perceive through the senses, interprete the information, filter information, combine information, store patterns, develop habits. The brain will automatically sense and preserve the bodies position in space, it will automatically (on a low-level basis) try to keep the body alive and adjust to life-dangerous situations, and a lot more I guess.
Problem solving on a higher level starts with the very definition of what is a problem, or in other words the conclusion or assessment to decide why 'something' is a problem: that needs analysys, a value-system that decides what is desirable or not, the definition of a goal, the evaluation and judgment according to this goal and so on.
The brain itself doesn't know anything about good or bad - it doesn't know such categories. It works on a lot more simple and basic level. If you are about to overrotate in freestyle your brain will use your legs to counterack against the threatening loss of balance and it will not ask you about it. It will switch into panic mode if the CO2 level gets too high and it is almost impossible to prevent it from doing this. But it cannot decide whether to take the more beautiful country road or the faster but more boring highway. It has no means to detect that there are those alternatives, that there is a problem, and that it needs to be solved. It takes a mind
as the 'Meta-Institution' to use the brain for such tasks.
If the problem solving was an automatc brain function than you wouldn't see such big differences in people reacting to challenges that environment or 'live' offers to them.
Also, it is e.g. possible to commit suicide. So there is an institution in us that can can overide the brains automatic and build in functions of preserving it's own live and can command over the brain.
I think what is meant here is mainly the fact that the brain stores patterns - of movements, of thinking, of feeling, of relating to situations, of attitudes, of the way we speak, of our reactions and so forth. It has a tendency to use already stored patterns. The more a pattern is repeated the stronger the brains tendency to use that pattern. Up to a point where we run into habits (=autopilot) and do things or carry out activities that we originally didn't plan to.
So I think the point here - when we talk about swimming and training - is to use this capability of the brain in an intelligent way. That includes repeating 'good' patterns and trying to avoid undesirable ones and strongly putting the emphasize on this fact and not on the growth of muscles and lungs. The side effect of training muscles and lungs is to store sloppy and 'bad' patterns, this is almost inevitable. The intelligent way of using the brain well also includes to challenge the brain, to go for those functions or patterns that are still weak and not for those that are easy - although the temptation and the easier way is to do it the other way round.
This far this good - got a lot longer than I planned...
There are some more remarks I'd like to say about the 'transformation and transcendence' in swimming, but I am afraid it will carry me away even further. So, later...