For Me, Swimming is an Escape and a Powerful Lesson in Mindfulness

 

Hello TriSwim! I’m excited to be writing my first blog as one of the new TriSwim Ambassadors.

 

I was swimming at Haysden a few nights ago, thinking about what sort of things I’d like to write in these blogs, and what you might enjoy reading about. It was at this moment that I realised what my first blog should be about – how swimming gives me time to think!

 

In our busy modern lives, there’s so much going on around us. Life can sometimes feel like a barrage of noises, questions and decisions and it can be difficult to take time to contemplate and think. 

 

For me, being in the water and swimming is almost a form of mindfulness, taking me away from the busyness of everyday life. Instead, hearing the rushing of water past my ears, focussing on my technique and thinking about my breathing gives me the headspace to me able to reset and think about things in a more productive way, whether that’s personal life or work. Getting out of the water, I often feel more focussed and that I have clarity on things that were perhaps overwhelming before.

 

I’m currently training for marathon swimming events, which will take about 5 hours to complete. Not only are the events long, but there are many hours that I’m putting in the pool and in the lake in preparation for the events. While I sometimes decide to put on headphones and listen to music to help the miles go by quicker, I also spend a lot of time without the headphones and focussing on the wooshing noises that come with swimming. I often find that more relaxing.

 

A scoping review done by Overbury et al (2023) gave a key conclusion that “open water swimming reduced negative mood states such as tension, anger, fatigue and symptoms of depression and anxiety”. Many of these elements of mental health are things that the NHS say mindfulness can help with. While there are probably other reasons why swimming in the open water improves mental wellbeing, I wonder how much of a contribution using it as a form of mindfulness (knowingly or not) makes. 

 

I hope that, whether your an experienced open water swimmer, or just getting started, you can find sometime to relax in the water and enjoy the changes in sensation that come with open water swimming and use the cold water on your skin, the sound of the water moving past your ears and the rhythmicity of your stroke to give you some clarity of though and relaxation.

 

References:

 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494423001214

 

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/tips-and-support/mindfulness/

 

Best wishes,

 

Pete