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Swimming Pace and Happiness

I am learning how to swim. Even though I grew up with a pool, I never really learned how to swim using the correct strokes. So I thought I would get off the treadmill and get in the pool! I have taken about 6 lessons and probably swim once a week. Currently, I am trying to perfect my freestyle stroke. My instructor has been working with me on increasing my endurance and being able to swim longer. Last week, he had me swim 75 meters–without stopping. For those swim novices, that is the length of the pool 3 times. Me being me I swam as fast as I could for the 3 laps because I was so afraid I wasn’t going to be able to finish it. By the time I got to the edge, I was completely exhausted.

When I reached the edge, he asked,

“Did you enjoy that?”

And I said barely catching my breath, “No, that was awful”

and he replied, “Of course, because you were just trying to finish it. You weren’t enjoying the challenge.”

Then he explained to me his philosophy about swimming:

“It isn’t about the destination or getting it done it is about enjoying the strokes and just having fun with it”.

“If you slow down your pace you can go further and might actually enjoy it!!”

Wow–who would have thought swimming could be such a great analogy for life–and happiness. Frequently, we go at a breakneck pace trying to get somewhere or figure something out, and then we finish the day, week, month exhausted. Rather than just enjoy the pace.

For the rest of my practice time, I tried to slow my pace. I admit it was new, it was frustrating, it was a challenge. But it was also more fun, I wasn’t dying at the end of each lap, I was able to swim continuously, and I was aware of my strokes. I finally began to see swimming not as this awful sport that hurts my lungs but as a sport that when done correctly uses my whole body and allows me to glide through the water. Since I wasn’t so focused on being exhausted, I could enjoy myself.

This is true with life, when we slow our pace, we can focus on the things that matter and maybe even glide for awhile. Try it. Slow your pace and see what happens.

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