Dive, Dive, Dive

10 Dec 2013

I'm injured and I can't run. I can't climb. I can't even dance. This is serious; it's not that the forced inactivity is undermining the transformation of my body, it's that I don't like what it's doing to my mind. I need to do something.

It's that urgency that leads me to the main pool at Seven Islands Leisure Center. I've always hated swimming; it should be easy, but I've never been good at it.

And this session doesn't start out any better. I make it perhaps halfway along the slow lane before, somehow, ending up out of breath with water in my lungs. I stop, spluttering, and hang onto the lane divider for support while I get my breath back. A retiree passes me, swimming slowly but steadily.

I notice that the lifeguard has moved and is now sitting on my side of the pool.

But it gets better, fast. A few attempts later, I'm completing thirty-meter laps without stopping. And after that, I get to the end feeling okay, flip around, and swim back. That's sixty metres continuously; I haven't done that since 2004.

It's very clear to me that it's the running, and the climbing, that's done this. The pyramid works physically as well as mentally. I feel as if everyone else has always known this. The kids at school who were good at ten different sports, always top of everything, it's not that they were ten times as good as me. It's that they were twice as good, and they got the rest for free.

This capability opens the door to huge new areas of exploration. Suddenly, everything is more accessible. This is brilliant.

The other concept I've been developing is the idea of personal momentum. From "I should do this at some point" to feet in the water took less than twelve hours; I looked up locations and times at lunch, and stopped to buy swimmers on the way. It seems trivial, but against a background of long to-do lists (with new tasks always entering at the bottom), full calendars, strategy papers and optimising, it's important.

And I call it "momentum", not "speed", for a reason. Rapid and decisive action begets more rapid and decisive action - and, more importantly, it teaches you that real change is possible and that it can happen quickly. Habits are things that you have proved to yourself about your identity.

Once you start doing this, you do it everywhere. A friend mentioned casually that "we should have a movie night". She thinks like this too, and suddenly the tone of the conversation changed completely as we pulled phones, synced schedules, and blocked in a date. Then, just as quickly, we were back to chilling out on the couch.

It's energising.

I finish another lap, still feeling good, but I'm due at dinner in fifteen minutes. Victorious, I use the railings to take my weight as I climb the stairs out of the pool, and head back to the change rooms, limping.