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SWIMMING AS ‘MOVING MEDITATION’

Use mindfulness in your pool training to transform any open water swim into an art form, says Terry Laughlin

In 2006 I swam in the 3K open water event of the FINA Masters World Championship. Held in San Francisco Bay, it was the most interesting event I’d ever swum, because it exposed the field of several hundred swimmers to three distinct sections, each presenting different challenges and opportunities.

We were sent off in waves five minutes apart. I was in the seventh wave – men in their 50s. In the first kilometre, we swam across a calm, sheltered bay. The main choice presented was how far to dolphin off the bottom before beginning to swim, as the course was quite shallow for the first 50 metres. My own approach was informed by watching earlier heats to observe how the lead swimmers handled this.

In the middle section, we entered a narrow channel, 800-metres long, lined with boats tethered to the walls. I’d swum the course a day earlier to familiarise myself and had made a plan to navigate by breathing bilaterally, keeping the channel walls equidistant. This minimised the need to lift my head and look forward.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

One of the things that keeps me going through the winter is my daily outdoor dip, whatever the weather or temperature. A few years ago this would have been considered pretty odd behaviour by many, but opinions seem to be changing as outdoor swimming and cold water swimming is featured more and more in the media. Indeed, a group of sea swimmers now feature daily on the BBC in the short films between programmes! Find out the story behind the swimmers in our news section. Elsewhere in the magazine we hear from Beth French about her close encounter with a shark in the Molokai Channel, we meet English Channel swimming legends Kevin Murphy and Sally Minty-Gravett and gain an insight into what happens when a swim goes wrong from Mickey Helps’s story of his unsuccessful two-way English Channel swim. I have really been enjoying Terry Laughlin’s series on mindfulness in swimming, which he brings to a close this issue with a look at swimming as ‘moving meditation’. It is a really interesting element to introduce to your training sessions. If you haven’t decided what swims you would like to complete in 2017, check out our event listings. And remember, events are not just for competitive swimmers – a race is only a race if you race it, otherwise it is just a lovely swim. We have some exciting news to share about H2Open – turn to page 27 to learn about our big plans for 2017 and how the magazine is changing. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming.
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