Swimming Lessons

My relationship with exercise is complicated. Exercise and I, we break up. A lot. It loves me, I don’t reciprocate the love. Yet I can’t ignore the immense value that moving gives my mental health, not to mention the love it gives my heart. I have had a pretty consistent walking habit, I did Couch to 5K run twice, and I have occasionally stepped into gyms or done a few classes. I love yoga but don’t currently practice. About a year ago I got back into the pool. I say back because it feels like where I belong, where I have always belonged. At first, it was inconsistent, and over the past few months, it has become a daily practice. I wake, I swim. In coaching, we learn that what embeds growth and what makes a habit stick is reflection. Asking why it works, asking what we learn, and exploring the quality we inhabit.  So here, dear readers, are the lessons I have learned from swimming.

A promise is a promise

If you set an intention to swim 20 laps. Swim 20 laps. Anything over that is a bonus. But keep the promise.


Swimming has taught me the power of calm, regulated and rhythmic breathing. There is no other choice, breathing is part of the stroke, it is fluid, it propels me.


It is possible that the pool is the only place where I experience silence. No podcasts, no talking, no music. Just the splash of the water, the sound of my breath, in and out. Pure.


For my body. The feeling of my body, floating, feeling it fly, weightless in the water, no judgment, just the love of my body moving, doing what it does. Full acceptance and gratitude for my body moving through the water and getting me from one side to the next. Love.


Oh, the peace, the quiet, the simplicity of being alone.


Thoughts come and go under the water. Something arrives, sometimes it stays, and it is meditative. I count my lengths, and occasionally an idea will interrupt the count. Then I do more not less because ideas must be invited. The idea for this blog came to me in the pool. It is a place to birth ideas and create.


Okay maybe I’m not as strong as the guy swimming laps next to me but comparison is the thief of joy and I’m strong enough.  Knowing you’re strong, feeling you’re strong, and being strong equals endorphins.


There is something magical and ancient about being in the water. I am ageless, I am part fairy tale, part human, part mermaid. I defy being human. I am beyond boundaries. I am a little bit mermaid.


It is kind to me. It doesn’t hurt, instead, it heals.


I have finally learned the truth: to exercise because of how it makes me feel, not because I am setting a far-off goal, aiming for speed, a race, a body type. I swim because it feels good. I love the way it makes me feel and that is why it has stuck.

Bathing suits, caps and goggles

Ok, truth time. I only like to wash my hair once a week. I am not a fan of wearing a bathing suit. My goggles hurt. And yet, and yet. 

At the end of a coaching session, I like to ask: What is clearer now? What do you know now that you didn’t know an hour ago? So let me try this now, turn the question towards myself. What has swimming taught me?

To be more forgiving towards me, more patient. To embrace what feels good, to let go of other people’s standards, and to be more present with what feels right, to me.

What lessons have you learned from a practice you have?

Thank you, as always for reading. Sam x

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