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isobel
April 13th, 2009, 02:51 AM
I posted a version of this on the non-swimming related posts, but I'm posting here again because I'm trying to figure this out more specifically.

I want to swim faster but I want to do other stuff in my life. This week I went to hear Emily Elbert at Berklee College of Music as part of its Rock and Pop night (she is awesome!), practiced speaking bad Spanish with a neighbor, but this was fun nonetheless, went to an African dance class and then walked from this class to the pool, where I proceeded to swim wearing a T-shirt and tights for drag, which is supposed to help me improve my catch. At home, pretty wiped out after dance/drag swim combo.

I want to see if I can get faster and stronger as a swimmer, but this takes much dedication. I am not of the elite variety but qualify for distance events at nationals and probably at long course nationals. So I want to train for long course nationals.

But I don't want to be obsessed. My exercises to keep my arms attached to my shoulders, my back in line, and my knees strong take me about an hour. I'm supposed to do them every day. I give practice my all and generally am a noodle for the rest of the day. I have a book project due that I have procrastinated because of "fatigue" from swimming (nice excuse).

Swimming makes me happy but I want to do other things. It's sailing season, for example. And tennis is fun. And doing more creative work is a goal. Is it possible to be well rounded and not be obsessed with swimming, but still get stronger? As in, a lot stronger? Without devoting all my spare time to it?

I do seem to have plenty of time to watch America's Next Top Model, Gossip Girl, other trashy TV. I'd like to read more books and ditch the TV. That will be tough.

Sleep also is a goal. Hard to come by. I do continue to write my soldier (never met) in Afghanistan and realize I have no reasons to complain about anything in my life, given what she is up against.

Still, balance? Swim speed = intense swim focus? I swim four times a week, about 14,000 to 16,000 yards a week.

ande
April 13th, 2009, 10:26 AM
figure out what you want and go for it.
Think about swimming & swim when you're at swimming
then live your life away from the pool

marksman
April 13th, 2009, 06:56 PM
You may be able to fit in morning workouts.

I find that my time from about 10pm to 12 midnight is usually wasted watching mindless television programs, and I'm better off just getting to bed early, getting up at 6am, and putting in an hour in the pool.

Maybe this will be a way you can engage in other activities during the day, without them being disrupted by having to get to the pool by 5pm.

jim thornton
April 13th, 2009, 07:27 PM
I think the answer to your question is obvious. You've practically answered it yourself!

Simply get Emily Elbert, your Spanish-speaking neighbor, your African dancing class partners, and your soldier to join your swimming team.

Get one of the swim MP3 players and listen to great literature via books on tape during swimming practice, pausing to chat during breaks in the intervals.

You can also listen to books on tape that discuss sailing, tennis strategy, and summarize the plots of recent episodes of your favorite tv shows.

Embrace your swimming obsession. Do not attempt to bring the swimming pool to Isobel's world. Bring Isobel's world to the swimming pool.

The answer is more, not less pathology; more, not less, focus on your swimming!

Actually, Ande's advice is superb. Balance, perspective, a nice life: I daresay such advice is second only to mine.

ViveBene
April 13th, 2009, 07:32 PM
Ditch the TV. Not hard.
I would second focusing on swimming while swimming, then put it out of mind the rest of the day.
If book project is your living, is it being relegated to second place?
I have written some books. I can't do anything else while writing - no other work or regular exercise commitments but walking.
Perhaps you are in the stage of circling your book project.

isobel
April 13th, 2009, 10:52 PM
Embrace your swimming obsession. Do not attempt to bring the swimming pool to Isobel's world. Bring Isobel's world to the swimming pool.



Well, I have been wanting to do a performance art piece at the pool (aside from my meet performance art 400 IMs). So I could combine some of my creative energy there. Just have to find willing swimmers/dancers.

Can't ditch TV. Obviously must create reality show where swim team lives at pool, has me making them do dances, they create alliance to vote me off, someone feels bad so buys me a Boston terrier puppy, they allow me to stay, I make an incredible documentary about the true world of masters swimming, I become very rich, I pay for Mr. Thornton's health insurance.

Ya.

pwb
April 13th, 2009, 10:54 PM
...
I want to swim faster but I want to do other stuff in my life...

I want to see if I can get faster and stronger as a swimmer, but this takes much dedication. ...

But I don't want to be obsessed...

Swimming makes me happy but I want to do other things. It's sailing season, for example. And tennis is fun. And doing more creative work is a goal. Is it possible to be well rounded and not be obsessed with swimming, but still get stronger? As in, a lot stronger? Without devoting all my spare time to it?

I do seem to have plenty of time to watch America's Next Top Model, Gossip Girl, other trashy TV. I'd like to read more books and ditch the TV. That will be tough.

...

Still, balance? Swim speed = intense swim focus? I swim four times a week, about 14,000 to 16,000 yards a week.

I don't think you're much different than the vast majority of us on these forums or in this crazy sport. Life is (IMHO) about a multitude of experiences and is not (IMHO rich enough if only) about the pursuit of excellence in a singular activity.

However, life is also about balance, trade-offs and setting realistic expectations relative to the effort you're willing to put into any single activity. Pursue all of those things you want to, but set goals relative to the effort going into each.

For example, I want to do very well professionally and sometimes get a twinge of "under-performer's anxiety" when I remind myself that the CEO of my company (a ~$3B global services firm) is a few years younger than me ... but I know the sacrifices it took for him to get there and know that I'm not willing to make those sacrifices as doing so would preclude my other interests.

Now, as for my thoughts on swimming:


You're swimming enough QUANTITY already to go faster
Focus more on two aspects of QUALITY

Technique -- you'll see more gains more quickly by getting more efficient/effective in your strokes than by doing more yards. Get critiqued and video'd; think "perfect stroke" as much as you can in your workouts; seek as much feedback on your technique from your coaches, swimming friends, etc. as possible (and then apply it back in your training)
Speed -- once you have honed your technique, spend more of those ~15K yards swimming fast and less swimming slow



It's really that simple ... (harder to do, but that simple in direction)

SwimStud
April 13th, 2009, 10:58 PM
Do what makes you happy.
Live within your means.
Enjoy the now, not yearn for the then.

Life is the journey.

:2cents:

isobel
April 13th, 2009, 11:09 PM
Now, as for my thoughts on swimming:


You're swimming enough QUANTITY already to go faster
Focus more on two aspects of QUALITY

Technique -- you'll see more gains more quickly by getting more efficient/effective in your strokes than by doing more yards. Get critiqued and video'd; think "perfect stroke" as much as you can in your workouts; seek as much feedback on your technique from your coaches, swimming friends, etc. as possible (and then apply it back in your training)
Speed -- once you have honed your technique, spend more of those ~15K yards swimming fast and less swimming slow

It's really that simple ... (harder to do, but that simple in direction)

Very good advice. I find myself thinking "I can't go sailing because then my arms will be too tired for swimming" (this is very true!), or after practice I find myself sinking into my bed instead of working (freelancer) because I have swum my butt off, and there are all these great drills on this forum, and great ideas for swimming faster, and good ideas for technique, and, well, you get the idea. I get tired.

I've gone to morning practices a few times and I am toast the rest of the day.

I wasn't like this before I started masters swimming. Hmmm. Is it an addiction?

Warren
April 13th, 2009, 11:35 PM
If you really love swimming and want to do it all the time, thats fantastic. I love swimming and training but then I started drinking a whole lot and pretty much stopped. I'm in college, not on a college team and we don't have a club team. But after college I'm going to need masters swimming to change up my rutine. So I really don't see your problem with loving swimming. I think thats a good thing that you feel that way.

orca1946
April 15th, 2009, 02:29 PM
In all things , you must find balance grasshopper1:D

Mookie
April 15th, 2009, 08:54 PM
Apologies up front for my heresy, but swimming isn't important.

Keep it all in perspective, and focus on what makes you happy. I swim because it keeps me healthy and I like my team mates and that makes me happy, but other than that, it's meaningless in the big sceme of things.

spell_me
April 16th, 2009, 01:30 AM
I find it hard not to be obsessed with swimming myself--swimming is never far from my thoughts, even though I have plenty of other interests, and also a family which I am obligated to give my best to: heart, mind, and soul. When I'm at the pool, I really love to work hard, and I know what you mean about feeling like a noodle all day. That makes it hard to give my best efforts to the other parts of my life. I have a few strategies that help me.

Music is such a great motivator; there's a thread about great swimming motivator songs right now! Well, sure I play some "pick-me-up" music on the way to the pool to get cranked up for my workout, but I save the heavy duty stuff for the ride back! And any time I need a little more energy and enthusiasm, I turn on some music--even just for a few minutes. It can really help me shift gears and focus better. (Obviously, you probably can't listen to music while you are writing!).

Also, I try to ride that post-workout endorphin wave as long as I can and use it to get whatever tasks I've got ahead all done.

It helps sometimes to pace myself, to take each day's work like a long race. I have learned when to slow down or speed up a little so as to get my best overall performance in.

Also, I NEVER just kick back and rest immediately after a hard workout. That seems to be a recipe for sluggishness all day.

mj_mcgrath
April 16th, 2009, 12:00 PM
The 5 Keys to Mastery according to George Leonard:

1. Instruction (from a masterly instructor)
2. Practice. "Deliberate practice that focuses on tasks beyond your current level of competence and comfort. When most people practice, they focus on the things they already know how to do. Deliberate practice is different. It entails considerable, specific, and sustained efforts to do something you can’t do well – or even at all. Research across domains shows that it is only by working at what you can’t do that you turn into the expert you want to become." --from the Harvard Business Review
3. Surrender (you can't learn if you already "know" everything)
4. Intentionality (use your mind to imagine what you want to do)
5. The Edge (take appropriate risks)

http://www.scribd.com/doc/257928/-Ma...George-Leonard
--mjm

isobel
April 16th, 2009, 02:10 PM
I like this concept of mastery.

The fine line: when it becomes selfish or self-absorbed or overtakes other important aspects of life experience.

Olympic swimmers inspire us because? Are their achievements meaningless? I'm thinking not. There are values underlying the amazing swims of both elite masters swimmers and Olympic swimmers that push me toward my own level of mastery, inspire me to work hard and give my all to achieve my swimming goals.

But, as many posters have said, balance is key.

Mookie
April 18th, 2009, 07:49 PM
Balance in all things, and decide what is important to you. Swimming has meaning to the extent you want or allow it to.

It seemed Olympic swimming was more entertainment and spectacle to the general public with trash talk, 40 somethings, drug innuendo, suit controversy, French nudity, and the sad denouement of bong hits with a history of DUIs.

I was inspired by the swims, but the incredible achievements of the swimmers were lost on the non swimmers I know.

isobel
April 20th, 2009, 01:01 AM
Actually I think the Olympics inspired a lot of people to join masters swimming.

Now as for the networks that went to commercial breaks during the distance freestyle events so that I couldn't see the whole race and watch what people were doing, that ticked me off, whereas most nonswimmers probably were not so interested in distance strategy.

But the team I have coached, of all levels, was really excited when I proposed we swim all the Olympic events, in Olympic order, as our workout. And they did them all.

So obsession version inspiration... I get very inspired by great swimming, then I get obsessed because I want to see how much I can improve.

I think the earlier advice on this thread, to swim while you swim, then go on with the rest of your life, is key.

There is plenty of wasted time in my life, that's for sure, that I could make better use of. Um, like I could be trying to sleep now, so I will do my laundry tomorrow. And other more important stuff too.

ViveBene
April 20th, 2009, 06:45 AM
Swimming is a magnificent obsession and adds years to your life, so you get back all the time you spend underwater.

:)

CreamPuff
April 20th, 2009, 09:35 AM
Apologies up front for my heresy, but swimming isn't important.

Keep it all in perspective, and focus on what makes you happy. I swim because it keeps me healthy and I like my team mates and that makes me happy, but other than that, it's meaningless in the big sceme of things.

Until pretty recently, I had this mentality too. If a colleague or friend asked about my swimming, I'd often end the story with something like, "It's just swimming," or, "It's just for fun. No big deal."

What made me start to question the "it's just swimming" mentality was when over the past few years several close friends and contacts of mine were diagnosed with different life threatening illnesses and/ or serious injuries (certainly life changing events). Some of these friends are still fighting the battle and others have succumbed to the illness or injury and are no longer with us.

One common link among all these individuals was that they were determined (and they desired desperately) to get in the pool for another swim or another bike ride or another meet/ competition. They would alter their life and schedule (and often treatment) to make accommodations for just a swim. Often, one of the first questions out of their mouths was, "When can I swim?"

Take Marin Morrison for example. She was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2005. However, even after the diagnosis, she was determined to keep on swimming and competing even while the right side of her body was paralyzed and it was difficult for her to speak. With the support of her family, friends, and medical team, she met a dream to swim in the 2008 paralympics games. Although she finally passed in 2009, family and friends dressed in caps and goggles during her memorial to celebrate "Marin's last swim."

Swimming or biking became a MAJOR life priority in addition to being with family. So my question is, is it really meaningless in the big scheme of things?
Perhaps, but now I'm not so sure.

While reading this thread I can't help but think of the saying "Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water" referring to the art of Zen living. Perhaps for some of us, swimming is our "chop wood and carry water." Deceptively simple. Yet extremely important and meaningful in the big scheme of things.

The Fortress
April 20th, 2009, 09:56 AM
I agree, Puff. Swimming can be extremely important to some, and there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

In general, the word "balance" makes me cringe. Obviously, life requires balance because there many different components that all clamor for our time. However, balance and moderation in all things can be frightfully dull and unrewarding. There is nothing wrong with a magnificent obsession. If it makes you happy to immerse yourself in something -- swimming or whatever -- no reason not to do so, if you're not neglecting other responsibilities. If it means you take less classes or watch less TV, is that really a loss? I've had to cut back on other hobbies/interests to accommodate competitive swimming in my life. Right now, I'm perfectly happy with that trade off. Doesn't mean I'll always be, but I can regroup and refocus anytime I want. Obsession flat out beats variety for me.

The "chop wood and carry water" analogy is great, Puff! Mr. Fort is currently sidelined, for the first time in his life, with an injury and can't run. It's absolutely horrible for him.

CreamPuff
April 20th, 2009, 10:30 AM
I agree, Puff. Swimming can be extremely important to some, and there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

In general, the word "balance" makes me cringe. Obviously, life requires balance because there many different components that all clamor for our time. However, balance and moderation in all things can be frightfully dull and unrewarding. There is nothing wrong with a magnificent obsession. If it makes you happy to immerse yourself in something -- swimming or whatever -- no reason not to do so, if you're not neglecting other responsibilities. If it means you take less classes or watch less TV, is that really a loss? I've had to cut back on other hobbies/interests to accommodate competitive swimming in my life. Right now, I'm perfectly happy with that trade off. Doesn't mean I'll always be, but I can regroup and refocus anytime I want. Obsession flat out beats variety for me.

The "chop wood and carry water" analogy is great, Puff! Mr. Fort is currently sidelined, for the first time in his life, with an injury and can't run. It's absolutely horrible for him.

Sorry to hear about Mr. Fort Leslie. I hope it's nothing too serious and that his time away from running is minimal.

When I had to have eye surgery a few years back and the doctors nonchalantly told me that "there is a risk of blindness," I literally swam through my anxieties and fears.

I was fortunate to be able to swim up to the day of the surgery. In retrospect I think that I was so determined to swim as I really recognized that each session could be my last. Without swimming, I was very concerned that I would resort to more self destructive activities which shall remain nameless given my current heightened anxiety levels.

Wounded Moose
April 20th, 2009, 10:52 AM
Balance is a mental state that can only be achieved with introspection and practice. Obsession can be balanced if the rest of your life is not adversely affected.

If you want to swim faster, there are many techniques that can help and you can practice some of them literally anywhere, anytime. Presuming you are awake. Even sitting still at a concert, you can do isometric exercises or breath control drills.

ande
April 20th, 2009, 11:01 AM
Isobel,

How are things in boston?

How not to obsess?

Obsessive people, obsess.

Quit now before you're in too deep,

Don't socialize with masters swimmers in person or online.

If you're new you'll go through the "honeymoon phase"

Join a great USS team, train in the distance lane, won't take long for you to burn out

Train with a team, by a coach, so you can just show up, do what you're told then leave & get on with your day

If you train alone it takes some thought because you need to plan what to do that day

My interest in swimming has changed over the years.

Remember "there is a very fine line between “hobby” and “mental illness.”"

Have a busy life and other interests, if all you have is swimming, you'll think about it (obsess) when you're away from the pool.

It's impossible to tell yourself to not think about swimming.
That's like saying "don't think of the color blue."

Obsession isn't so bad, that's how people become great. They focus their minds and bodies. If you don't want to think about swimming so much (obsess less) then fill up your life, calendar, & mind with other stuff.

Ande

Mookie
April 20th, 2009, 11:02 AM
There are two sides to every coin.

Thomas Paine: "A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice."

Or, you can go with Yeats: "I balanced all, brought all to mind, the years to come seemed waste of breath, a waste of breath the years behind, in balance with this life, this death."

But in the end, it comes down to Santayana: "Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it."

Which is to say, you have to decide. Americans have gotten into a bad habit of waiting to be told what is right or correct, abdicating personal critical thinking. Jefferson is spinning in his grave. :bitching: Rant off.

Chris Stevenson
April 20th, 2009, 11:15 AM
Which is to say, you have to decide. Americans have gotten into a bad habit of waiting to be told what is right or correct, abdicating personal critical thinking. Jefferson is spinning in his grave. :bitching: Rant off.

Interesting that you mention Jefferson...at the entrance to UVa's aquatics center (which also has weights, etc, for the students), there is an engraved saying of his to the effect that two hours daily of physical activity is necessary for a healthy mind.

"Give about two of them [hours] every day to exercise; for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong."

http://wiki.monticello.org/mediawiki/index.php/Exercise

Of course it bothers me to no end that I am giving UVa (or "Jefferson's University" as they so ponderously proclaim) kudos for anything. My wife, a William and Mary alum, is quick to point out that Jefferson actually attended HER alma mater...

isobel
April 20th, 2009, 12:59 PM
Isobel,

Don't socialize with masters swimmers in person or online.

Remember "there is a very fine line between “hobby” and “mental illness.”"

Ande

You make me laugh! Don't socialize with masters swimmers. ha ha ha ha. They are my favorite people, most of them.

Boston is fine. Some other obsessive people are running 26.2 miles today (I think that's the conversion). You couldn't get me to run a block, or "uno cuadro," to reflect otra curiosidad que me gusta mucho. Hay mucha gente en Boston que habla espanol; hablo con ellos cuando they will let me. Not a good idea to talk about your "tricks" with Spanish-speaking strangers on the bus. (I have this great trick where I fold a quarter in a dollar bill and toss it over the tracks at Park Street T Station to the street musicians. One night I did it and suddenly all these tourists were handing me quarters and dollar bills to toss over over the tracks for them. Very difficult to describe in bad Spanish without giving wrong impression. "El truco" finally one guy said who had been pretending to look out the window but was actually listening.)

I swam by myself yesterday and then went sailing. I need to learn my vectors. Kept going up and down the river not IN to the dock. The wind was blowing straight off the dock so the guy at the boathouse told me it would have been tough for anyone to get in. I managed to dock without crashing, an accomplishment. The teenagers at Community Boating love me; it took me 14 times to pass my helmsman test, kind of a record! And the windier it is, the more they encourage me to go out, then I think they time me and take bets as to when I will go over.

Boston is chilly. I love Boston. I love how it looks. I love blizzards more than swimming.

There: I love blizzards more than swimming! We haven't had a good blizzard in three winters. I may have to move to Calgary.

ande
April 20th, 2009, 01:53 PM
hi isobel,

mission accomplished, that's what I was trying to do, but if you talk with masters swimmers, you'll probably talk about swimming & swimmers, thus furthering or deepening your obsession. Masters swimmers are some of my favorite people and best friends.

isobel, now we know you:

+ speak spanish
http://www.google.com/ig told me:
""a table" to reflect another curiosity that I love. There are many people in Boston who speaks Spanish, I speak with them when..."

+ like to sail, even though it took you 14 times to pass your helmsman test,

+ Love blizzards more than swimming &

+ have a trick where you fold a quarter in a dollar then toss it
which by the way I need to see video of your dollar / quarter trick

btw you inspired me to begin the Stupid human Trick Thread (http://www.usms.org/forums/showthread.php?p=177454#post177454) drop by and give us more details
Do you (or anyone else) have any other Stupid Human Tricks you'd be willing to share with us, I know some folks here have skillz?

Ande


You make me laugh! Don't socialize with masters swimmers. ha ha ha ha. They are my favorite people, most of them.

Boston is fine. Some other obsessive people are running 26.2 miles today (I think that's the conversion). You couldn't get me to run a block, or "uno cuadro," to reflect otra curiosidad que me gusta mucho. Hay mucha gente en Boston que habla espanol; hablo con ellos cuando they will let me. Not a good idea to talk about your "tricks" with Spanish-speaking strangers on the bus. (I have this great trick where I fold a quarter in a dollar bill and toss it over the tracks at Park Street T Station to the street musicians. One night I did it and suddenly all these tourists were handing me quarters and dollar bills to toss over over the tracks for them. Very difficult to describe in bad Spanish without giving wrong impression. "El truco" finally one guy said who had been pretending to look out the window but was actually listening.)

I swam by myself yesterday and then went sailing. I need to learn my vectors. Kept going up and down the river not IN to the dock. The wind was blowing straight off the dock so the guy at the boathouse told me it would have been tough for anyone to get in. I managed to dock without crashing, an accomplishment. The teenagers at Community Boating love me; it took me 14 times to pass my helmsman test, kind of a record! And the windier it is, the more they encourage me to go out, then I think they time me and take bets as to when I will go over.

Boston is chilly. I love Boston. I love how it looks. I love blizzards more than swimming.

There: I love blizzards more than swimming! We haven't had a good blizzard in three winters. I may have to move to Calgary.

knelson
April 20th, 2009, 02:16 PM
About a month ago I was at a new swimmers clinic and saw a coach who I see at most meets. She asked me how my week was and I replied "Pretty hard. I've gotten in over 20,000 yards already." She said "well, most people tell me about their family or work when I ask them how their week was!"

So I think I may be obsessed. In my defense this was at a pool, so of course I was thinking about swimming :)

ande
April 20th, 2009, 03:19 PM
Kirk

Yes you're definitely showing signs of S.O.D. Swimming Obsession Disorder
Should it be SCOD swimming compulsive obsessive disorder?

Wonder if there are any meds that will diminish it?
Perhaps a Shock collar?



About a month ago I was at a new swimmers clinic and saw a coach who I see at most meets. She asked me how my week was and I replied "Pretty hard. I've gotten in over 20,000 yards already." She said "well, most people tell me about their family or work when I ask them how their week was!"

So I think I may be obsessed. In my defense this was at a pool, so of course I was thinking about swimming :)

knelson
April 20th, 2009, 03:27 PM
Wonder if there are any meds that will diminish it?
Perhaps a Shock collar?

The drug companies could probably come up with something that would make you violently ill if you smelled chlorine. I think that would probably do the trick!

jim thornton
April 20th, 2009, 04:02 PM
Swimantabuse?

For what it's worth, I think swimming obsessions actually reduce the other kinds of obsessions. And unless your swimming obsession makes you unhappy (mine doesn't; if anything, it makes me happy), then a case could be made that we obsessives may not be able to cure ourselves, but with luck we can channel our mindset into something that's actually pleasant to obsess about!

Chicken of the Sea
April 20th, 2009, 05:58 PM
I agree. Might as well be obsessed with swimming instead of something bad.
:coffee:

ViveBene
April 21st, 2009, 07:53 AM
... While reading this thread I can't help but think of the saying "Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water" referring to the art of Zen living. Perhaps for some of us, swimming is our "chop wood and carry water." Deceptively simple. Yet extremely important and meaningful in the big scheme of things.

I totally agree, and it took me more than two decades to figure it out. In psychobabble, swimming for me is efficacious on multiple dimensions. And I'm gonna keep it that way.

A friend's 3 rules for living:
1. Be reasonable.
2. Feed the cat.
3. (I forget.)

Swimming falls in no. 2: do something every day, regularly.
:)