Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Swimming uphill

You have all heard the story that someone of the older generation tells when the younger generation is kvetching about how hard life is.

"When I was a child I had to walk uphill to school. Both ways."

I think it is possible they were telling the truth.

I discovered something similar recently at my community pool.

I like to swim in the smaller seventeen metre pool if it is available. There are various reasons for this.

It is warmer.

It is shallow at both ends.

It is beside a huge floor to ceiling window so there is lots of natural light.

Because of the current from the nearby river feature in the adjoining pool area, when I swim west to east in the lane it is easier than swimming east to west. This gives me a good workout as I swim against the current.

Usually this smaller pool is roped off so you can only swim in the lane closest to the window.

The other day the whole pool was available and I decided to swim in a big circle rather that just an immediate turn around at the end of each lane.

And you know what?

If I swim west to east on the far side it is against the current, and when I come up the lane near the window from east to west it is also against the current.

One day while swimming another swimmer stopped me and commented that swimming against the current was like swimming uphill.

And it is. I count my strokes when I swim and with the current I complete the length in 14 strokes. Against the current it takes me 22 strokes. The current works against my glide.

When I swim with the current I feel like I am flying through the water, but when I swim against the current I feel all my muscles working to propel me through the water.

Swimming with the current feels great. It is swimming with ease, gliding with speed, breathing easily, feeling free.

But, lately, I prefer swimming against the current.

It allows me to feel all my muscles. It allows me to experience the hard pumping of my heart, and heavier breathing in my lungs. It makes me pay attention to my balance in the water and the position of my head when I breath on the right side. How is it different than when I breath on the left side? How does using a six beat kick change my forward progress versus my usual two beat kick?

I learn a lot swimming against the current.

But, then again, I already knew that.

I have been swimming against the current most of my life.

I learn the most about my self in this life through the challenges I have faced.

It is hard being human.

But we knew that before we incarnated here.

Hard is how we learn the lessons we came here to learn.

So, I will continue to swim against the current.

And build muscle.

For what is still before me.


  1. I SO need to take a page from your book. I reckon I choose the downhill glide whenever possible... especially with anything physical. I honestly do not enjoy those healthy active parts of life you cherish. I whinge about how much I resemble a geriatric walrus but do nothing about it. Strenuous exercise feels like punishment. And a reminder of all my many inadequacies. I admire you immensely. XxI

    1. Stop that negative talk, missy. You are MY hero in so so many ways.
      And I will get to London while you are there. That's a promise.

  2. Sounds like we could have a party in London :)
    I wish I was a better swimmer. I recently tried some very gentle jogging with my walking. My legs are still protesting. Being at my heaviest weight ever (apart from when pregnant) probably doesn't help. So it's a vicious circle. I need to lose weight so I try and up the exercise which leaves me unable to exercise so the weight stays put! Swimming would of course be better as it's not weight bearing but I hate doing lengths - I hate being out of my depth. (In more ways than one.)

    1. Yes party in London - at the olympic pool???

    2. Lol as long as I don't have to swim in it.

  3. I often feel as though I am swimming uphill, but unlike you, instead of adapting to it, I ggo under sometimes!

  4. oh I go under sometimes....I am feeling that way alot these days.

  5. Hi Mary-Anne,

    I love your analogy of swimming and living.
    Your swimming against the current, where you feel every muscle, need to focus on your balance etc. reminds me of my hydrotherapy sessions.
    As a former swimmer, I can appreciate the subtle differences created by small adjustments of technique.
    Some of my favourite quotes that you have evoked in me are:

    "The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it" - Woodrow Wilson
    (When I acknowledge that I have been swimming 'against the stream' and I have survived and am still surviving, even thriving, makes me feel stronger and capable of overcoming difficulties.)

    "Know how sublime a thing it is, to suffer and be strong" - H W Longfellow
    (When my body is hurting in general, or in the pool pushing hard or struggling to get it together, I can find exhileration by discovering strength and resilience.)

    We also need to remember that it's okay to take the 'downhill glide'. We need to find a balance and respite from our struggles in order to regain our rhythm and momentum sometimes.

    E.g., Like a small child I take great delight in freewheeling down a local incline at speed without apology as I see it as a reward for the slow, arduous effort it took when I was fighting gravity going up the other way!

    1. Thank you for your response. I love these quotes, and I am thankful for your friendship.


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