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Old 06-09-2011
solothesailor solothesailor is offline
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Join Date: May 2011
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solothesailor
Default Breakthrough in Breathing, example of how

Not many weeks ago I could hardly swim freestyle for 15 metres. After taking some lessons locally (no TI coaches) I could bust my gut for 25 metres. Then having watched John Konrads’ Swim easy DVD showing Rosemary Brown gliding gracefully, and read Terry’s Total Immersion especially Chapter 8 drills, over and over, I was very inspired and progressed over two weeks to 50 metres with some ease, repeated 8 times in all just to convince myself I really could do it. That evening tears rolled down my eyes because my long-time dream of being able to 'swim laps with ease' was coming true. But there I was stuck, if only for a couple more weeks, as I couldn’t see how practicing more physically would improve my swimming by much, breathlessness-wise.

I’m waiting for some TI DVDs to arrive; meanwhile I’m learning heaps from this www.totalimmersion.net forum and blogs, the contributors of which I’m eternally grateful for, and numerous You Tube video clips. Yesterday I was happy to apply what I read and watched. I immediately improved on my 2-beat kick, imitating Shinji Takeuchi (or to the rhythmic music!)

It was like....Lo and Behold, Jehosaphat, OMG, Could this be real -I was NOT tired.
Amazed and curious, I went on to comfortably do 100 m, then….
for the first time in my life I swam 200 m, with much ease and without breathlessness at any time.

At first I thought the 2-beat kick was mainly to be credited for the breakthrough. This thought was tested by swimming faster or, rather, more strongly. After 25 m I was stuffed. So, no. Several factors had come into place.

Then I got it! Everything comes first from the mind, a clear and knowledgeable mind as a true Buddhist would say (true in logical principles and practice rather than any local customs). In case this might help someone, I can share with you that my humble but personally significant breakthrough, with much still to improve on, has come from:
  1. Clearing the mind of fear. Replace with experiential confidence of safety, comfort and ease. Excellent drills and anchor words help you experience “I can float”, “I won’t sink”, “I know how to adjust”, “rest on pillow”, “sip of air”. Removing fear is THE MOST significant factor for me. I shifted from doing drills just to ‘achieve the doing’ to ‘Woww I can do’ and ‘Ahh…. Comfy’.
  2. As Terry has taught: Balance, Streamline, Propulsion. All these became easier and more fun after step 1 was in place. I read a lot, watched a lot, rehearsed what I’d do, then practiced, imitating the idol (anyone who’s read The Inner Game of Music or The Inner Game of Golf will know what that means).
  3. Natural breathing. Now I can say categorically that my leap in progress in this area has come from:
    a) Knowledge about tidal volume (flppr’s post pointed to a wiki webpage).

    b) Understanding from working out for myself that I must stop wasting efforts, so relaxed everything and reduced efforts to occasionally (this is funny to me) kick, shift weight, hold the water to slide through, and…. nearly forgot… roll to sip a bit of air (every 3 strokes but if missed some it’s ok to me –like you’re asleep and now and again miss a breath or sigh a big breath).

    c) Removing anxiety. The above would not have worked had I wasted the brain energy in anxiously ‘trying’. It was clear in my mind ‘As I could leisurely move in hand-lead and sweet spot pose for a long time I would be able to also swim for that long –perhaps with more ease and fun as I get to do interesting things like 2-beat kicks and switching sides’.
  4. A quiet mindful mind. Again, a practicing meditator will understand this more clearly than others. Your clear egoless non-judgemental mind is quietly observing and being aware of what’s happening. In bliss.
Why in bliss? Why wouldn’t you be if you’re weightlessly gliding along with contentment? Why contented? Well….with a quiet egoless mind that doesn’t judge/condemn/praise, why wouldn’t you be?

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to Terry, Shinji, Coach Suzanne, Richardsk, Nicodemus (1 length to 1 mile in 2 weeks), madvet (overweight, unfit, and asthmatic, and can swim 2 miles), flppr, and others unnamed here –all of whose writing I read several times over. And of course John Konrads, Rosemary Brown and my local instructor Shelly.

All comments and advice most welcome. A long way to go yet and I wish to keep learning and improving.

Solo Thesailor
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