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On Not Swimming

On finding out that I can be happy doing other things. It might be analogous to something...

March 31, 2015

I haven’t been swimming in almost a year. Now, for most, this wouldn’t be such a big deal. But for me…

I was so excited to move to a city where there is a Masters’ swim team. I signed up, paid my dues, and have yet to attend a workout. Part of it is because the practice times are terrible for me and my family’s schedule. But, really, I just have zero motivation to don a suit and cap and goggles and jump in the pool.

Instead, I’ve started doing Yoga. A bit obsessively, actually. If I can get to a class, then I am getting to that class. If I only get to go three times a week, then I find time to do it at home with a DVD. And I absolutely love it, a love that I once only reserved for a handful of activities, and ones that usually involved a pool.

I have been doing yoga off and on for a while now. When I first moved to Kentucky, I was having a lot of trouble sleeping, and found that doing yoga, specifically designed to help unwind and calm down, actually worked. For a life-long insomniac, plagued by the inability to shut my brain down, coupled with anxiety, this was nothing short of a miracle. But because of where we lived, I was limited to doing yoga at home to a handful of videos.

Swimming, it turned out, didn’t actually help quiet my mind, exhaust my body, and ease my anxiety. In fact, it made it worse. At a certain point during the 45 minutes I would try to swim, my mind would wander to dark places, and I would come out of the water more upset than when I dove in. Certainly, it felt good to know I could still swim, still move easily (if less quickly) through the water, but mentally, it didn’t help, and in fact made things worse.

It probably had something to do with the fact that I was swimming alone. There is something about swimming with a team, or at least a buddy. It got me out of my own head. Swimming was never particularly “relaxing” – I was tremendously hard on myself, but I had friends and teammates, family really, whom I couldn’t imagine not spending as much time with as possible. And it had to be the right team; I swam for one semester in college because, well, I didn’t really fit in with the team.

When I do yoga, however, my mind rarely, if ever, wanders to those deep, dark places. Yoga is fun in a way swimming used to be fun, in a way I never ever thought it would be. Yoga makes me happy the way swimming used to make me happy. I like the teachers, I like the space and the atmosphere. I appreciate that there is a variety of types people who are taking the classes with me, but I am not looking from them the same thing I am looking for from a swim teammate.

Summer is coming, and I’m sure I’ll swim again. I still relish the experience of swimming outdoors, in the sun. And I don’t think I’ve given up on ever finding a place, or rather a team, that will make swimming fun again. But for now, it’s just nice to know that there is something else out there, some other activity that can bring me the same joy. I spent most of my life thinking that swimming was forever the only thing for me. I wonder what else I should try…


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