Enrich your experiences.
If you lack confidence in water, especially open water, you may find yourself avoiding water-related social events, whether poolside, on the water, or at the beach. Being able to swim competently can change that.
Feel secure in most water environments. Being a competent swimmer increases your margin of safety while active in or on water, such as in swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, boating, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, or water-skiing. And it improves safety for the people you are with as well.
Enter a new fitness realm.
Swimming is great for improving lung capacity and cardiovascular conditioning, easy on your joints, relatively inexpensive, easily accessed in most communities, and can be enjoyed for a lifetime. Triathlons and open water swim events become possible.
Connect with nature.
Most modern societies spend too many hours indoors, away from natural environments, including being out in the fresh air, in a forest, or in fresh or salt water. The Japanese use “forest bathing” as therapy, a concept that can be easily extended to time in open water.
Swimming means leaving your devices behind, and unhooking from a constant barrage of “noise”. In open water, the only sound usually heard is water lapping gently in your ears. The visual experience is also much simpler and thereby also calming, all great therapy for a busy brain.
Become life confident.
As you overcome mental swimming barriers, and develop trust in your ability to manage the variable and uncontrolled open water environment, your sense of self-efficacy will enhance other areas of your life. Strengthening your belief in yourself can make you a whole new person.
Training for the Across the Lake Swim Helped Save My Life
I live in Alberta and was visiting my sister in Kelowna during the summer. After a couple days of watching her practice for the swim I found myself swimming along beside her like a protective dolphin just making sure she was ok–forgetting the fact that she is a much stronger swimmer than I ever knew I was. Even though she had completed the swim a couple times before I wanted to do it with her so she wasn’t alone. In March 2015 of the next year, I signed up to do the swim with her. In June, I received the best news of my life, I was pregnant! I trained three times a week working my endurance up to 2.5km in the pool. We completed our first swim together that summer and it is one of my favorite memories with my sister. We swam together like it was something we had done our entire lives. I joked she was the lucky one who might have to swim through an unwelcomed mess if my morning sickness kicked in during the middle of the swim. I continued to train up until the day before I went into labor. As many pregnant woman experience, being short of breath is common during the third trimester. This was true for me, except when I was in the pool. Swimming was the ultimate meditation and strength building exercise for my mind, lungs and body. I learned how to keep my mind and breathing calm and steady, even when my body was exhausted.
My swim training increased my breathing endurance and lung capacity to an incredible strength, which helped save my life during child birth. My son was born via an emergency cesarean section in March 2016 that almost turned fatal. I suffered massive complications due to the medical team’s errors, which left me flat-lined on the surgical table requiring resuscitation. Prior to that point I knew I was in trouble and was able to focus all my energy on just breathing and staying as strong and calm as possible. I fought for each breath, and was able to pull through the panic without an assisted oxygen mask by using the breathing skills I honed in the pool. The first two days after my son’s birth I was intubated and placed on a breathing tube. The nurses reported that each breath I took was initiated by my own lungs and body, not the machine. I know 100% that training for the Okanagan Across the Lake Swim in 2015 helped to save my life during the birth of my first child. In 2017, my sister and I proudly entered the water again together and crossed the finish line hand in hand. For those athletes who are anxious to take part in this wonderful event, I say to you: Get in the water– you never know how you will benefit from it!
Carla Froyman Parker.