Overcoming the “Staying Alive” Reflex in Swimming

As someone who’s learning to swim rather late in life, I especially appreciate this excerpt:

For a fortunate few–after many exhausting, uncomfortable laps–staying alive concerns gradually give way to swimming farther ambitions. But the actions you perceive as having kept you alive—pulling and kicking—have taken hold in your brain as ‘essential swimming actions.’ And the fact that this style leaves you so exhausted inclines you to believe that great fitness is the key to progress.

I would only add that regardless of how many laps you complete in the pool, those staying alive concerns will likely come rushing back the first time you find yourself in open water and realize your feet can’t find the bottom. And I suspect that nothing but time and patience can overcome that reaction.

One thought on “Overcoming the “Staying Alive” Reflex in Swimming

  1. I’m pleased that resonated with you and thank you for sharing with your readers. The flip side/upside of this is that we have the opportunity to learn and improve for decades–maybe for life! What it takes is to make that your goal in every practice . . . and why not races while you’re at it. Do what it takes to be a better swimmer when you leave the water than when you got in. I’ve been doing that for 25+ years and still have several small but critical skills that don’t yet feel ‘finished.’
    Happy laps!

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