View Full Version : The Feel of the Water

July 25th, 2007, 12:06 PM
Hello Everyone,

B.J. Bedford says: For me, I never forget how it used to feel. And I know what it takes to get there, and I just don't have the time or the drive to get there. Anything less leaves me feeling a little dissatisfied, so I just don't do it much.

I think anyone who has started back from a prolonged absence can relate to this. What I remember is a Zen like loss of consciousness that felt transcendental kind of like being out of the body. Like being so automatic you didn't have to be there. I was asked once "how far can you swim?" I had to think about it because I was used to thinking how fast. I said "I don't know. It feels like forever."

I'd love to hear what others feel like in the water or what they remember.
Now I feel like a slow moving blob. Like I'm kind of stuck.
Is there a quick fix that anyone knows ?

Mary W

Jeff Commings
July 25th, 2007, 12:12 PM
Is there a quick fix that anyone knows ?

Mary W

Good luck finding that "quick fix." In swimming, and probably other sports, getting out of a slump or a lull doesn't happen in a day, or even a week sometimes.

You just have to mentally work hard at swimming through the sludge. One day, you'll come out of it and feel like you're a teenager again.

July 25th, 2007, 12:14 PM
The long forgotten feelings. I can almost remember every stroke, fast or slow. I remember banging my hands into the water until I found a better way of doing it. Now I get in the water and no matter how fast I swim it all seems the same. Smooth and splashless.

July 25th, 2007, 12:48 PM
Here is some first-hand experience:

I swam from when I was eight all the way thru college. My last meet was in the summer of 1986. As a grad student I splashed around a bit, but no serious training since then.

In May 2007 I got back in the water - really for the first time in over 20 years - prompted by the encouragement of a former agr-group teammate, and stimulated by the (premature) death in April of my freshman-year college roommate, who was also a swimmer.

The first few weeks back in the pool were brutal. Though it was a long time ago, I have very, very vivid memories of 20,000+ meters/day double workouts in college, of being too tired to go to class and just sleeping in the locker room, and of feeling as though I was in the best shape of my life. So being barely able to swim more than a few hundred yards continuously before my lat's and triceps gave out was shocking. :drown:

But I have stuck with it, and I have even swam a couple of meets over the past few weeks. I am now at the point where "feel for the water" is coming back, and where it actually feels GOOD to do a long pull set, or to swim a lactate set. I have set some ambitious goals for myself for the next couple of years.:wiggle:

So, my own sense is that the Zen feeling will come back, if you stick with it long enough, and are willing to really train to get (approximately) back to the level of fitness you once had.

There is a swim club in Holland whose name/motto is "Luctor et Emergo" - I struggle and emerge. I think that says it all...

July 25th, 2007, 12:59 PM
Ah yes. This topic is close to my heart.

I spent the better part of my 5 masters swimming years (after a 12 year break) searching desperately for the feel of the water that I had as a kid. There were a couple of years where I was doing a lot of :frustrated: in searching for something that wasn't exactly tangible.
"But my 200 fly never felt that bad!?"

As a kid, I felt as if I was part of the water. Effortless. Light. Smooth.
Zen-like. Yes. Felt I could swim in my sleep.

When I started back swimming after the 12 year break, I was in for a rude awakening. Felt like :drown: and then :cane: Was like this for quite a while.
You know when you are searching like a mad women for something and it's under your nose the whole time? Or have you seen your friends search desperately for a significant other only to come across their dream match when they stop looking so hard?

As an adult I believe I've found my "zen-like" or qi state but it's quite different from when I was younger. As an adult, I appreciate it more and I feel more focused and alive (I recognize the state) than ever before. Took patience, practice, and a focus that centered more on the pure feel and pleasure of the water rather than reaching specific goals or times. Wiping my conscience clean (turning mind into a blank slate) and eliminating all negative thoughts so to speak was helpful as well. Adopted the mentality of nothing is impossible and everything is possible. Want to pretend I'm Kate Zigler at practice for a day? Why not?!

Being satisfied at first when that zen state appeared for just one or two strokes. Patience. With each passing week or so, that state would increase. Stopped looking so hard for it. Recognizing that as a kid it wasn't 100% "go with the flow" all the time. Realized that if you can push through the pain at times during a set, that that state will suddenly appear.

No quick fix. But when I changed my way of thinking and attitude while being satisfied with smaller accomplishments (yea! I can breathe every 3 easily), I found what I was looking for a whole lot quicker. The bonus is, once you find that feeling, the speed is right there with it. Often it pops up when you least expect it.


July 25th, 2007, 01:06 PM
Wow ! Thank you for the encouragement. The thought of doing anything near like the 12K in two workouts when I was at my best is not something I want to do. While feeling great in the water is wonderful to me it's not worth that much. I don't want to give it up though so I am doing stuff like working with weights and yoga, running stuff that lots of top swimmers today have incorporated.

No one has answered my question though. What does it feel like when it feels great ? How would you describe the sensations ? Do you feel like you are cruising through the water, floating, ect. For me I loved the feeling of feeling disembodied, like I could daydream away a 1000. Of course when it got too painful to do that I was there in my bosy with the pain.

Anyone experience something similar or something different ?

Thank you for the responses


July 25th, 2007, 01:15 PM
When I'm feeling good, I can feel the water on my fingertips. It feels easy to be smooth and efficient and there is no sensation of fighting for speed.

Karen Duggan
July 25th, 2007, 01:48 PM
I remember not thinking about anything during my best swims ever. Everything just clicked and I knew I was going as fast as I ever had. Swimming just felt effortless. My stroke was "perfect" and I just went with it.

Getting out I remember not hurting at all, not being out of breath- awesome. I was on such a high. However, once I got in the warm down pool, I started breathing a little heavier :)

Sorry, no out of body experiences or anything!

I do notice that before some of my better swims, I tend to yawn behind the blocks.

July 25th, 2007, 02:00 PM
I remember not thinking about anything during my best swims ever. Everything just clicked and I knew I was going as fast as I ever had. Swimming just felt effortless. My stroke was "perfect" and I just went with it.

Sounds sort of like "runner's high". I haven't felt that in years and years, and haven't ever felt that while swimming. Someday perhaps...

Skip Montanaro

July 25th, 2007, 02:45 PM
That 'feel' is not unique to swimming. When a person does a lot of excercise for a couple of years with the right technique, that 'feel' comes at a stage. I think it is sort of a gift of God to the person for the sake of the efforts and devotion for something. I have some friends did some serious basketball, voleyball, rowing, etc. at their youth and they all talk about that 'feel'. I am not lucky enough to do any kind of sport seriously at those years and I do not understand what kind of a feel it is.:cry:

July 26th, 2007, 10:20 AM
S(he)-Man - Yes, "part of the water" kind of feel is what I'm after. I'm going to stop thinking about what I don't have in the water and start thinking about how good what I'm doing feels. (I just finished The Miracle and believe that by what you think you draw more of the same. Think lack of and you get more lack of.)

Chlorini - "water on the fingertips" is also a good focal point for me as I am working on my catch to increase propulsion. I love your name chlorini reminds me of high school when my friends and I made names up for each other the best was clitoria and we good not stop laughing.

Thanks all for the encouragement and responses


July 26th, 2007, 09:14 PM
Like swimming down hill. Almost like body surfing.....very rare, but I do feel it once and a while and I savor it.

July 26th, 2007, 09:22 PM
I nearly squirt orange juice outta my nose... thanks alesal.

As a youngster, I had a coach yell (must have wanted to get home or something) at me because I swam after they all were done... I felt I was 'in the zone.' I hated to quit when I felt that way. There was no pain, a little daydreaming, and no disruptions... well, if it weren't for the coach. After a few years off, I've been back into the grind (since May) and love the way it feels. When in the water, there's nothing to think about other than the way the water flows around ur body and how it can be affected. It's quite stimulating, I think.

July 27th, 2007, 08:01 AM
I can tell you that speed doesn't always have to do with this feeling. For me, it was more about just feeling in tune one day with my stroke, my body, the water, and a joy in being there in the water at that moment. It was during a relatively low-key swim too, not one of my longer ones. And I wasn't swimming fast by most standards, maybe a little faster than my normal pace. I'm training for a long open water race, so I've been doing swims where I try to hold a steady pace and improve the speed more with stroke work than sprints (I do some of those, but they aren't the focus).

But at one point, I had a lovely "this is all going so well" feeling--somehow connected to my body, the water, the stroke, everything. And I just relaxed and enjoyed it.

But I pretty much always enjoy my swims, sometimes more than other times, and some parts of some swims more than others, but for the most part, I leave feeling better than when I started. Same with running. I don't so much look for any feeling to happen, but enjoy it if it does, and otherwise just feel grateful I can do all this stuff, since a lot of women my age don't have the time or inclination or are having a lot of health or weight problems. And I've had my share of running injuries that have me seething that I can't run. I'm really glad now that I have the swimming, because when running was my only sport, I'd really seethe inside when I had injuries. I have fewer running injuries now, but I also know I am not stuck if I get injured, because depending on the injury, I can switch over from one sport to the other. So naturally that makes me happy!

July 27th, 2007, 08:34 AM
Like swimming down hill. Almost like body surfing.....very rare, but I do feel it once and a while and I savor it.

You nailed it. For me, it's like ridng a wave. I feel long and balanced, like I'm gliding on top of the water -- downhill.

I know I'm there when my freestyle gets to the point where I can feel these sensations:

- full body rotation and glide effortlessly to full extension
- reach and scull to really feel the water with my hands and forearms
- rotate my forearm keeping my elbow high until I reach my catch point
- use my arm and hand as a single paddle to pull myself over the water
- completely balanced in the water throughout the whole stroke

Yeah that's it! It's been so long...

It usually takes me 8 to 10 weeks of hard freestyle training to get there. Problem is...I'm a breaststroker. Since I started competing again, instead of just working out, by week 10 in a season, freestyle's taken a back seat.

As for breaststroke...well, I've spent the last 3 months starting from scratch learning the wave...So I'll have to let you know on that count.


July 27th, 2007, 10:55 AM
Thank you all for the respones. It's got me thinking about the feel of all the strokes. For me the way butterfly feels when you are strong anfdhave it right is the best ! I remember a set or 200s once and it felt like flying.
Very Cool !
Joe, Made me smile that you appreciated the humor. I hoped not to offend anyone.


July 27th, 2007, 02:33 PM
Hello Everyone,

B.J. Bedford says: For me, I never forget how it used to feel. And I know what it takes to get there, and I just don't have the time or the drive to get there. Anything less leaves me feeling a little dissatisfied, so I just don't do it much.

A bunch of years ago, BJ was doing Swim Across America in Portage Park pool. (Lake Michigan was closed due to bacteria.) I don't think she had done much training, but she could still do a 100 fly at the end of her 1500m swim, just to goof around.

I'd be happy if I could get to the point were I could swim 100m fly without a garbage truck parking on my spine. But I do remember being able to "zone out" in high school and still swim fast, which I have not been able to do as a Masters.