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Mindful : April 2014
April 2014 mindful 25 Iswamasakidbuttookitupagain more seriously about six years ago. I’ve run marathons, which put me in good cardiovascula r shape and made it kind of an easy switch to swimming. Now I travel to swim meets all across the country. Being back in the water turned out to be very satisfying. When the grandkids and I go to a hot springs or some other place to take a dip for fun, I can just play—diving under, holding my breath. I love being underwater—it’s the most wonderful feeling. What do I like most about swimming? The weightlessness. Good Technique When it comes to swimming, the number one thing is technique. When I took it up again, my technique was outdated. Now I know much better what I’m doing. WhenIfirstgetinthepoolIweara snorkel, so I can see and focus on my body position before I start thinking about my breathing. When I push off the wall, I make sure my arms are stretched out in front of my head and my body is in a totally neutral streamlined position, so I go through the water with as little resista nce as possible. I check my head to make sure it’s in the right position, with forehead down and chin tucked. I start with arm strokes, and when my arm is above my head and entering the water, I make sure it’s bent at the elbow, with an emphasis on the palm of my hand, pulling and rotating at the same time and pushing all the way back to my thigh. Focus I can only think about one thing at a time. My brain just can’t do more than that. I’ve never thought multitasking was a very good idea. I’m intense, so I can focus. When I was studying in college, there could be a par ty going on behind me and I wouldn’t even know it was there. I like competition, but I don’t have a killer instinct. I love doing well against the clock, and I get great satisfaction beating my best time. But I don’t have that “I’m going to beat you if it kills me” thing that an Olympic gold medalist like Michael Phelps has. I love practicing and improving my ability to move through the water. The women I compete against—holy moly!— they’re fantastic. But I haven’t peaked yet. Competition I was competing in Clevela nd in August and there were two swimmers in my age group who are really good. I thought if I did a pretty good time in the backstroke, I’d probably get third place. I’d be happy with that. So I just went for it. And when I touched the wall and looked up at the board, it said first place. I thought, that’s got to be a mistake! The other t wo were swimming lanes away from me. They couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see them. I had whizzed by them and they didn’t know it, and neither did I. It’s the first time I took first place in a major meet. ●