Yippee! Yeah! Leaps in the air! Now that I have finished my victory dance, I can’t wait to share with you how I broke my own mental barriers last month. For years, I have envied people who could swim length upon length in the pool without stopping. I was usually gasping for breath within 3 lengths and had to stop and yet people who appeared heavier and less fit than me went on and on. It was a mystery!
The puzzle for me came together with the help of 4 people who unknowingly taught me valuable lessons and helped me along in my quest to swim without stopping!
Lesson 1: Make efficient use of time above water to breathe in deeply
My friend Lavleen Riar taught me to breathe in deep when above water and breathe out inside the water. Previously, I was trying to do both in the short time when my head was above water and was consequently reducing my intake to only 50%. When I started practicing this, I went from 1 length to 3 and still quit after doing 3 continuous lengths. What was I doing wrong?
Lesson 2: Little tweaks in technique can accelerate your speed
At SHARAN‘s 21 day retreat in June 2014 where I co-facilitate, I met Ramesh Hirani, a hobby sports coach who loved helping people to get fit. He helped me improve my stroke and I was able to increase my speed and felt much more confident. I was also tiring less and could go upto 6 lengths now before having to stop. People back home started complimenting me on my stroke. They found it elegant and effortless. Thanks Ramesh for your invaluable tips. However, I was still gasping at 6!
Lesson 3: Go slow to go further!
Due to popular demand, SHARAN repeated their 21 day programme in September 2014 and I could swim in their gorgeous pool again. This time my friend Millie Mitra came as a co-facilitator to manage the kitchen. Every morning she would swim in the pool doing non-stop lengths before her daily kitchen duties.
I would admire that and ask her secret and she said, she goes really SLOW. I asked if I could swim with her and match her pace. So we agreed to meet at 7.30 one morning and I swam keeping pace with her. After 3 lengths, I felt uncomfortable and wanted to stop and saw her swimming real slow. OK, I told myself, I can go that slow some more. Once, I overcame the barrier, I realised that I could continue at that slightly elevated heart rate that was bothering me earlier, so I kept going with her.
Millie’s goal was to swim 42 lengths which would make it a kilometre each day. That day, I kept pace and did 42 lengths. It was an exciting moment for me to have overcome the hump of discomfort which had held me back for years. Every time I wanted to quit, Millie would kick my ass and tell me to keep going. I am so grateful to Millie for this timely and much needed kick!
Lesson 4: Challenge yourself. You are your only competition!
The fourth person of my personal swimming puzzle is Daksha Hirani (w/o Ramesh Hirani) who came for our September retreat. A recently turned vegan fitness enthusiast and marathon runner, she was motivating everyone to achieve their personal best! On the final days, she arranged a “swimmathon/ marathon” for each participant to push their own limits and achieve their personal best.
I started at 5 pm and informed Daksha that I would be swimming 50 lengths. An hour later when I completed 50, I found that I was not tired and could keep going. At 75 lengths, I asked a co-swimmer if I should quit as it was getting late and she said “No. Keep going.” A few minutes later, Daksha came and gave me these waterproof headphones and I was listening to lively pumping music right there in the pool. Well, I don’t know when I hit 100. It was too soon as I could keep listening to the music and keep going but it was going to be dinner time and we had to go!
Gratitude for all my teachers
For me, it was a most thrilling and exciting moment to have completed 100 lengths or 2.5 km in the pool! Essentially I went from 1 to 3 to 6 to 42 to 100 and realised that all the barriers were only in the mind. Thanks to all my lovely teachers and coaches who helped me along the way. I am eternally grateful to them for helping me achieve my goal of non-stop swimming. I can’t wait for it to be summer so I can practice my new found skills in the pool again.
Your Turn Now!
Have you overcome personal barriers and achieved your personal best at a sport or any activity? Please share your story here to help encourage and inspire others to get motivated to alive their personal best.
If you haven’t done it so far, or want to attempt it in a new area, think about what are your barriers to achieving this goal? What are your personal goals to improve your own fitness? How can you compete with yourself and achieve your personal best? What help and encouragement do you need? How can you get that for yourself? Go challenge yourself and never ever give up!
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