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Swimming for my life

I’ve been reading about swimmers and their relationship with water; their where, why and how.  I’ve been swimming (forever) and thinking about what I’ve been reading and about my relationship with the water (enduring). My immersion in water, my consensual surrender to something greater and my endurance & wellbeing because I swim.

I remember the time(s) I didn’t trust myself and the water. I was 3 years old and terror struck in ‘lessons’ delivered at the end of a long pole that I snatched at between splashy bouts of air & water (drowning). At this memory, my heart bangs on my chest wall and my belly hollows in a cold flood. My granny rescued me from being taken back to those lessons. All of me is grateful.

Another swim coach / angel redeemed that terror-struck relationship with the water. Mrs. Smith built back trust over months as I blew bubbles into coloured Tupperware bowls in her garden, a safe distance away from the pool. I wore water-wings and walked around the pool’s edge watching other girls (future national champions) fly up and down. Many ‘lessons’ later, I consented to air being taken out of my water-wings teaspoon by teaspoon.

In Ervin & Markides’ book Chasing water: Elegy of an Olympian it says “water organizes itself around feelings”. That phrase (and many beautiful others) stood out for me because swimming is the most vivid experience of feeling & good surrender that I know.

If you come to the water in the tight constriction of fear, you will sink.

If you come to the water as if meeting an opponent, in domination, you will exhaust yourself (and splash a lot).

If you come to the water tentative, you will move slowly, hanging onto lanes and edges. You will (sensibly) stay in your depth, dislike wild swimming and warn others.

If you come to the water and stay in your head, you will watch the clock and take your pulse and follow a training regime. Tick tock tick tock.

The wise tell me that surrender is giving over, not giving up. It is trust-infused, not defeat-riddled. In the dictionary (yawn, I know) surrender is about yielding to power, control or possession – but for me – that definition feels militaristic and missing something quintessential like a reference to flow, bliss, ease, flexibility, or strategy. My good surrender requires a connection with feeling which allows greater bodies of water to hold my small body of water. Surrender enjoins me to her, allows me connection, openness, collaboration, grace, finesse and trust. It’s the magic of partnership not domination. It aligns head and heart, toppling the terrestrial order of head above heart.  

And so, I swim. I practice good surrender to what is, to exploring what I am in relationship with. I swim knowing the water feels me as I feel her. To be able to swim in the shallows is the same skill as swimming in the deep. But … I think there, in the deep, the trust arises from experiences within self, your inner wise knowing.

I’ve swum in so many different places and for so many reasons. I’ve swum dark water, confronting mythical monsters to escape desperate heat. Swimming (in the cold Irish sea) brought me back into my body after an enduring lost period where I was stuck inside my head. Swimming taught me when to stay in my lane and when to get out of the water. I swim alone. And in an unexpected gift of life, I swim with others.

Various life experiences call forth such good surrender – personal growth, loving self & other, acceptance of & connection to our dreams. Surrender and swimming are perennial themes in my life, they won’t be captured (yet) in so few words. 

#swimming #sea #water #lido #wildseaswimming #surrender #chooseyou #transform #alignment #bodyfulness

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