Have you ever balance-walked along a curb? If you go too slowly, what is the point? There is no joy in the feeling. If you go too fast, you lose your rhythm. Off you fly, in the “wrong” direction.
Of course, too fast or too slow are relative terms. They depend on factors like your overall health and muscle tone, your experience balancing anywhere, and even your height. Some of the factors are in your control, but others are not.
Swimming is a lot like balancing on a curb. If you are moving along too slowly, it can be boring, which is demotivating. If you emphasize speed before appropriate rhythm is adequately developed, the effort tends to end in flailing and gasping. The particular “flow dynamics” of your body have to be maximized.
The nice thing is that working on form makes a swimmer go faster with less effort. This makes swimmin more fun and rewarding. It doesn’t matter what initial level you are at, if you make any attempt to move in the water, with associated breathing patterns, there will be aerobic gains. If you relax about it while working on the pattern of it all, it can be almost as easy as walking.
Unlike walking, you do not have to change your form once you reach a certain aerobic capacity. Walking faster and faster leads to running. Or painful looking body mechanics. Swimming faster is just an extension of the rhythms and patterns that have been practiced all along. That means that you want to work on good habits from the start.
One of the advantages of swimming in my pool with a current generator (FYI, Fastlane by Endless Pools purchased through Snake River Pool and Spa), is that it is easier to start off relaxed. Not only do I not have to worry about where I am going or turning around at the end of each lap, but I cannot as easily start out too fast.
It has taken some practice to get the feel for swimming in the current and finding the level I could maintain without a feeling of struggle. In a still water pool, this is done as a swimmer naturally slows down after an initial faster start. There is no way to do that if the current keeps flowing at a fast level.
While I was learning these things, I also learned to relax on a whole new level. Relax, feel the pull of each stroke, and work with the rhythm that has to happen to counteract the current flowing against me. Now, I find myself sometimes daydreaming while I swim. This works fine, as long as I remember not to attempt a breath at the wrong time because I forgot that I am swimming!
I have found that as I test new speeds now, that my rhythm doesn’t change, but my pull does. That means that I am not dealing with as much variation in the breathing cycle. Sure, I have to take in and expel more breath, but it feels like familiar. My muscles and my lungs are used to that particular constancy and there is much less to adjust to.
I still consider myself very much an average swimmer in ability, but from what I’ve heard, I am more relaxed than average. I think in the final analysis, that puts me ahead.
(I do not have any advertising connection with Endless Pools and do not receive any commission from Snake River Pool and Spa)