Terry Laughlin's newest article talks about how some people zone out during activity in order to avoid thinking about pain, distance or whatever. He remarks that he once swam 9 miles with Louie, Louie stuck in his head. Whoa! I guess that's better than Oops, I Did it Again...
In high school and college, I used to play the James Bond theme in my head during fast 50s and 100s, especially in races. If you take the remixed version from Tomorrow Never Dies, it really ups your tempo. Looking back, though, I was probably doing a lot more thrashing that efficient freestyle strokes...
So what do you think about when swimming?
(And be sure to check out the article Zone In, not Out, to Overcome Your Limits for Terry's focal points to think about during the freestyle.)
I'm usually watching the swimmers in nearby lanes and quickly assessing whether they are faster, slower, or about the same. I also think a lot about recent movies that I've watched.
Like a mantra, every stroke, my lap count...or else I loose count.
32, 32, 32, 32, 32, 32, 32, etc. (flip turn), 33, 33, 33, 33, 33, 33, 33, etc. (flip turn), 34, 34, 34, Oooo that babe in lane 5 is HOT, 34, 34, 34, Wait! Isn't this lap 35?
In open water I´m thinking in the technique and also waching the people that is in front of me.
At the swimming pool, counting if I go on the front, if someone else is on the front I´m trying to not touch his feets and thinking in my kick.
But running just telling me ¨make the difference¨
I listen to my swimp3. Each song lends itself to a different focus. Sometimes it's lengthening my body in the water. Sometimes it's keeping my hips rolling in a rhythym. By the end of a ocean swim or when swimming against a current the song just keeps me from thinking of the difficulty.
I just remember two things. When I was swimming long distances in high school workouts, I would work on my Algebra and Trigonometry homework in my head. When I was swimming distances under 500 yards, I remember singing "Born To Be Wild" to myself, over and over. LOL. I guess that shows you how old I am.
Well, J, IDEALLY you'd be thinking about swimming. If you are a competitive swimmer, practice is the place for thinking, that way when it comes to race day your body just runs on autopilot. I tell my kids that they need to be students of the sport in order to be successful, constantly aware of their bodies and their movements. Its funny though, when I'm on deck looking down at them I can definately tell which ones are aware and which ones are singing Britney...
On recreational swims, its definately disney songs that play in my head, especially Little Mermaid!
I used to repeat my lap count as well until I bought the finger lap counter combo. Now I think about future competitions and when I am going to clear the fog from my goggles.
I only recently learned to count down laps rather than up. My lanemate says it motivates her as the number diminishes. It also mitigates the Dumb Jock Syndrome, the increasing difficulty of basic cognitive tasks as the blood flow is shunted away from non-essential systems (e.g. digestive system) to more demanding ones (muscles).
I used to do the Sesame street song for each number: "1, 2, 3, 4, ... 5! 5! 5! 5! Let's sing a song of 5! How many is 5?" (state 5 things 4 times, eg "5 ossified Republicans, 5 amorous Rottweilers") and then "5 (insert flavor here eg Kahlua Boston cream) pies!"
Splashing and clawing my way through the waves here in beautiful San Diego, what do I think about to distract my mind from the tragic shark attacks and how my choppy strokes may be sounding the lunch bell for our finned friends? I think about my beautiful fiance and how she wants to purchase the bridesmaid's dresses and groomsmen's tuxes, and I ask myself why? I mean don't get me wrong it is a nice gesture, but I was hoping to have some nice gifts or possibly a hotel overnight before the big day. Am I wrong to be so frugal on her wedding day? I should just stop fussing and sing a good tune while I scan for smiling sharks. Anything to distract me from the possibility of being attacked. " Well the Shark has, big white teeth -ya, and he keeps them pearly white...."
This is an interesting question. When I was training for running a marathon, I read somewhere not to listen to music because if you're training for an endurance event you have to prepare the mind and listening to music will only last so long. So, if you are needing to train for something that is going to last 4 hours + what's the best way to train your mind? Right now I've been swimming in a pool, and I count my laps in sets of 10. Last Sunday I did a long swim of 200 laps, so 20 sets just focusing on the next 10 instead of getting wrapped up in the fact that I was only on set 4 or something. I am training for an open water swim, and I think I have to do something different to count my laps. Because, at the moment I'm training my brain to focus on counting. When I'm in open water there will be no counting, so it's counter productive to preparing my mind for open water swimming. I do think about my form a lot, and trying to improve it. It's interesting to read what other people have responded to this question. It seems that most people have some kind of focal point they come back to, a stay in the moment thing. I think endurance sports are in some ways an act in mind control than the physical piece, I like to think of them as a "meditation of the will." There are people who swim in the pool with me frequently that are much better swimmers, stronger, better form yet they couldn't swim 200 laps. What I've been working on is the mind control piece and that gives me an endurance advantage.
Good quesition, and I've found the responses interesting. I've found it difficult to stay mentally in a swim, especially lately. It irritates me when I do swim and lose my lap count, but on the flip (turn) side of it, it's truly mind-numbing for me to count lap after lap. Much like some of these other people, I do let my gaze wander to other lanes, but not for long as I have also run myself into the lane rope. Ouch. I have had a diifficult time slipping into autopilot on longer swims like I can with my run or my ride. To combat this, I've begun swimming one lap to the right of the line, one lap on the line and one lap to the left of the line. This way I don't have to count and I can let my mind wander to whatever it goes to and the lap counting goes by itself. Sometimes it wanders to my next meal, or my last meal. . . sometimes it's about my form. . . sometimes it's about my work.
When I was in college I had to take a fluid dynamics class and I had absolutely no clue about what the professor was saying until I got to swim practice. Fluid flow around an object would always confuse me until I was swimming and realized that I was the object and I could observe the flow around me! I would be swimming and realize that the "turbulent eddies" created while swimming out of streamline made me slower. I would play around with swimming with my fingers open, my hands closed, my head down and especially my position streamlining off the wall. It managed to help me get a B in the class and decrease my 1650 time, plus it got my mind off the 3x1650 sets.
3x1650 sets!?! Whoa, I'd have to go deep into my happy place to get through that.
But you make a good point about trying to discover your body's fluidity. Now that I'm out of college and don't swim every day, I almost always feel a little out of whack when I do get in the water. It definitely helps to use the warm-up to focus on how the water is flowing over my body...and why I feel like I'm moving so slow.