07/04/2014 by Carl Reynolds
You begin to swim in cool water with either a sedate stroke to ease out the muscles, that by the laws of physics are going to contract in the cold, or you speed off in the vain hope of deluding yourself that it’ll make you warm. Whether it does or doesn’t is, perhaps, more to do with the placebo effect than a physically measurable reality, but each to their own method of beginning a cool/cold water swim.
After a couple of lengths of steady state ticking over, I spot someone who seems to be going a little faster than I, but not so fast that I couldn’t gain on them. After several years of swimming in a clear 100 yard long pool, I’ve become adept at spotting them. I am then faced with a dilemma – chase or chill?
If I indulge in the chase, I can persuade myself that its good training, but…I lose the tranquility. I get lost in the pursuit and forget to look around. Bubbles are no longer fascinating, but an indication of a frenetic flight towards the heels of my intended target.
If, on the other hand, I resist the competitive urge, I continue to swim in a mesmerising and calming fashion. There is, for me, a boundary between being slow enough to absorb the surroundings; and being too quick to notice. I notice the same when driving on a motorway – 60 is a speed to absorb the countryside around; 70+ is a multi sensory plunge into focussed concentration. Anyone else feel the same? Is it a pan human experience; or just me?