At the end of some of my swims I set up my GoPro to take video of myself. I put it on a ladder against the wall then swim back and forth in front of it. It’s fun to do, plus I learn a lot by seeing myself swim. I ususally do it at the end of the swim after I have practiced a specific aspect of the stroke. I do this to check myself. Occassionaly what I see does not match what I feel. This still surprises me even though I have seen myself on video several times. My stroke feels good and I feel effortless in the water, but there is always a little something or moment it can go awry over time, so checking in keeps things on the kaizen path.
When viewing my video I can be judgemental. So, I have to realize this going into it so I look at the video with an eye on the facts. Objectively. Is the arm sloping up-yes or no? Is the nose pointing down-yes or no? The swim is as it is (and the body is as it is in this moment, too), neither good nor bad, this is what my stroke looks like, this is what I am doing. I accept the facts. Then I can ask myself: Is this what I want to be doing? Where can I make changes? What is working?
Aha, now I know what to do, what to pay attention to to adjust and what to maintain the next time I swim. From seeing my swim video, I can use this information to give my next swim practice shape, I’ll know where to direct my attention.
My next swim I make adjustments, and notice moments where the change might feel a little awkward. The awkward is awkward because it is new, but it is a sign that I am doing something different. If it felt good or the same then I am not making any adjustments. Awkward might be a better movement, but because it is different, the muscles are doing a new pattern, it might not feel right, yet. So, awkward is a good sign! Embrace it.
As I swim there are moments where I feel I have made a change then I don’t, I went back to my old pattern. I have it for a few strokes then lose it. Practice, practice, practice. It is a never ending thing, to dial it in. If I don’t pay attention, things can go awry as I mentioned earlier. Just the way it is. I practice, then I video to check in with how I did. Accepting the fact that I will never really arrive where things are perfect and therefore I never have to pay attention again isnt’ going to happen. But, having someting to always attend to is what makes swimming, practicing swimming so much fun!
Effortless swimming takes effort. Kaizen swimming requires attentive effort.
Here is a simple meditation practice I use:
May I be strong
May I be kind
May I be confident
May I swim with ease!