Mindful Swimming

Jump into the pool with Tonya Nascimento. Experience the rhythm of your stroke, the comfort of the water holding you up, the rush of the water past your ears, the craziness of hundreds of people swimming in circles and spaced just so. Competitive swimmers, like all athletes, can benefit from practicing in the moment.

Photo: microgen/iStockPhoto.com

In a year-round sport with only one championship every three or four months, it can be very easy to lose sight of the purpose for practice and end up just going through the motions. You put so much time into repeating the same movements that you don’t really think about them anymore. You put your body on autopilot and your mind drifts far away from the pool. But how does being so disconnected affect your performance?

Just going through the motions happens when you are physically doing everything you should, but mentally you are playing over the events of the day, worrying about what your best friend or your crush might be thinking, planning what you’ll do after practice or on the weekend, or any number of other possible scenarios that are anything but paying attention to your swimming. Sometimes your coaches cue you into what you should be thinking about. They’ll specifically ask for focus on pushoffs, turns, stroke technique, race strategy, pace, descend, max out, etc. But sometimes it seems like just another boring set. This is when you can practice bringing your mind to the motions.

You can start practicing mindfulness by honing in on your breathing—just…