Thought for the day
Craig Lambert, in Mind over Water, quoted in Getting Things Done by David Allen.
Rowers have a word for this frictionless state: swing ... Recall the pure joy of riding on a backyard swing: an easy cycle of motion, the momentum coming from the swing itself. The swing carries us; we do not force it. We pump our legs to drive our arc higher, but gravity does most of the work. We are not so much swinging as being swung. The boat swings you. The shell wants to move fast: Speed sings in its lines and nature. Our job is simply to work with the shell, to stop holding it back with our thrashing struggles to go faster. Trying too hard sabotages boat speed. Trying becomes striving and striving undoes itself.
Very TI-like passage.
I'm from Hawaii and enjoy swimming in the ocean several times a week. I think of the ocean as the most glorious dance partner I could ever have. Whether I swim across a lagoon or swim a 2.5 mile route, the ocean will always lead. What I do is pay close attention to what it's telling me that day, that mile, that stroke. Sometimes it's very gentle to me and we partner slow and smooth, sometimes fast and powerful. Sometimes out of nowhere it'll change it's beat, give a bump, a pull...and because I'm paying attention and swim relaxed but engaged, I adjust to the new "tune". And sometimes, it's tricky....it wants to keep me in the same spot stroke after stroke after stroke. No matter what the dance, I do my best to be a worthy partner on every stroke.
I have that book by Craig Lambert and have made reference to that very passage. The near-mystical place of Swing in the culture of rowing was also mentioned in David Halberstam's book The Amateurs.
In the ebook user's manual for the Self-Coached 10-Lesson Workshop I wrote the following in introducing our SwingSwitch drill
In his 1985 book about Olympic rowing, The Amateurs, David Halberstam describes the magical feeling rowers experience when perfect synchronization among eight individuals makes rowing seem almost effortless: “When oarsmen talked about their perfect moments in a boat, they referred not so much to winning a race but to the feel of the boat when it seemed to lift right out of the water. Oarsmen called that swing.”
Lesson Six teaches a drill series we call SwingSwitch. When you get it right, the effortless propulsive power it provides seems almost magical, like ‘swing’ in rowing.
Honu, your passage about partnering with the ocean is equal in eloquence to Lambert writing about Swing. And I know the feeling exactly but have never described it as lyrically.
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