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How Do Strong Swimmers Relate to the Water?

A young swimmer in yellow goggles and a yellow cap floats on their back in a pool. A text bubble on the left, set against a blue and white graphic background, reads "How Do Strong Swimmers Relate to the Water?.

Hi everyone, it’s Mike from Gold Medal Swim School. I have been thinking lately about how swimmers play in the water. When I get together with my buddies I swam with or with other coaches, we get in the water and swim and we inevitably do things I’ve noticed to be different from others. How swimmers relate with the water is an important part of how fast they can be and how lifelong-oriented they can be about the water.

This brings me back to the year 2000 when I was coaching at the Olympic games in Australia. Several of my swimming comrades and coaching friends got in the pool one day. We were going to do a big workout together, but there was a lazy river there and we inevitably started playing in it. Some of these friends were gold medalists, some had swum at the collegiate or Olympic level, some had coached at the Olympic level, and yet when presented the opportunity, we chose to relax.

I’ll tell you most people would swim and try to get a workout in, but not swimmers. Instead, we started figuring out how to glide in the lazy river. We started figuring out how to put pressure on the water and hold our position in the lazy river. And all the little fun, kind of playful things we did, it was all about being with the water instead of fighting against it.

A lot of times when I watch kids in our lesson program, they will literally sit on the surface like little tiny jellyfish or they’ll push off the wall and see how far they can go. These are things swimmers do to relate with the water instead of working against it. You can even try it in your bathtub at home. Watch your kids float. Watch them on their back. And talk to them about relaxation.

We are looking at the idea that swimming is about a relationship with the water instead of an opposition of forces. Great swimmers, safe swimmers relax in the water. They enjoy the water instead of always feeling like they have to get something done. So we as parents, as coaches, or as swimmers ourselves, let’s spend 2018 working on enjoying the relationships we have with the water. Bubbles, ring bubbles, submersions, laying on our back - things that make us feel like we are a part of the water instead of foreign entities. I’ll see you around the swim school in 2018.