The "Zen" of Ocean Swimming


It was during these long laps at the Ala Moana Beach lagoon that I discovered the "zen" of ocean swimming. Up until this point, all of my swimming experience had been limited to either anaerobic sprints or longer gut wrenching power swims where all you could think about was the finish and your coresponding time. Here, with ocean swimming, in absence of lane lines, markers and other swimmers thrashing about I was on the verge of a kind of swimming where you could truly experience the environment of which you were a part. It was a kind of swimming in which I would find one could actually enter a "zone" similar to that experienced by distance runners.

After running into the reef a few times, I changed my stroke to roll from left to right allowing me to see to my left as much as I saw when breathing on my right. The increased rolling seemed to considerably cut down my drag and increase the glide I'd get with each stroke. On the down leg, with the wind behind be, my strokes could be long and slow while the return leg required shorter and quicker strokes to push through the wind chop which I was now swimming against. These varying conditions combined with my new "view" on both sides during my 2K swims in the lagoon made for an interesting forty minutes which I would later work down to my under-thirty-minute goal!

Around the point when my times were in the mid-thirties for 2K in the lagoon, I discovered the "high" that so many runners experience. Until that time, I had never heard of such a condition for swimmers. It came for me when I was encouraged to swim the Waikiki Roughwater Swim, a 2.8-mile swim along Oahu's Waikiki shoreline. As a suggested practice for the event, a fellow swimmer suggested I start swimming 4K at the lagoon, twice the yardage I had been swimming each day.

To my surprise, doubling my yardage wasn't difficult at all. Instead, what I discovered was somewhere in between the second and fourth kilometer was what I considered to be the swimmer's equivalent of a runner's high! I found that for a period of time after I had been swimming for awhile I would get a second wind then enter a "zone" where my stroke seemed almost mechanical and I felt neither fatigue nor the usual longing to be done with my swim. Instead, I felt I could keep on swimming forever at what was about a three-quarter speed! For the first time in my life, I truly enjoyed swimming.

My new interest in distance swimming made it an activity I wanted to do every day. I found myself going to pools and swimming laps non-stop for over an hour straight and, within four months of returning to swimming, I entered my first rough-water swim and soon after that clocked my first under-thirty minutes at Ala Moana Lagoon.

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