Swimming Lessons: Reflection, Relearning, Renewal

Recently, I figured out that I took my first swimming lessons 55 years ago.  Yes, I was 10 years old when I started at the YMCA in Decatur, Illinois.  Once I got over my fear of the water, I had a good time swimming, and I really liked to swim.

Once again, I am taking swimming lessons.  Sam, the trainer I work with at the gym, is also a swim coach, so I joined a class where he coaches participants to improve their swimming skills.  Here I am, again, taking swimming lessons and loving it.

What I have come to realize through these swimming lessons is that, in the process of swimming over the years, I developed my own approach to swimming, which may or may not have been helpful.  Most of my time in the lessons now involves unlearning the bad habits that I developed over the years and relearning the proper way to swim.  I had become a non-reflective swimmer, so didn’t even realize that I was developing swimming techniques that were not helpful.  

Sam pays close attention to detail and has given me some great pointers that are improving my ability to swim more effectively.  Through his coaching, I am improving my stroke and my kick.  My stamina is increasing, and today I swam further than ever.  One of the others in the class even commented as to how my swimming has improved.  I have a long way to go, but I feel good about the progress.

As one swims the length of the pool, one has the opportunity to think.  As a result of the reflection, I have concluded that swimming lessons are a lot like life.  Sam, as a coach, is helping me to reflect upon what I do and he is teaching me particular skills that will help me achieve my goals.  

As I think about the connection of swimming lessons to life, I have come up with the following thoughts:

  1. One can continue to repeat the same things over and over again, developing unhealthy approaches and ineffective methodology and never even realize it.  My swimming stroke and my kicking were neither effective nor efficient.  No wonder I was losing my breath.  Life is like that.  We repeat the same unhealthy behaviors, over and over again, and wonder why we are not being effective.  We live with ineffective methodology (eating, drinking, sitting, etc.) and wonder why we don’t get different results.  Complacency takes over, and life moves into automatic patterns that go nowhere.

  1. In order to move out of complacency, one needs to reflect upon one’s actions and assess the effectiveness of what one is doing.  Failure to reflect not only keeps one from growing, failure to reflect causes one to decline in one’s ability to be effective.  My swim coach directs the reflective process, and I have come to realize, as a result of his coaching,  what I need to do to improve.  Moving forward in life requires that we have a team of people who will speak to us in love and coach us in the way of life.

  1. One needs to recognize that sometimes one’s own reflections are not enough.  A person can become blinded to personal actions and behaviors, needing someone on the “outside” to help identify what is missing so that changes can be made.  Each of us needs a coach.  A coach notices the details and coaches for change.  After just two weeks, I can feel the difference in the way I swim.

This is a year in which I have identified wellness as my key objective.  As I look at wellness, I think in terms of spiritual, physical and emotional.  I know that I have work to do in all of these areas.  Also, I have a coach in each of these areas, because I need people to ask good questions that I can use to reflect.  In addition to the coaches, I have a team of people with whom I walk who also can ask questions and speak to me with truthfulness.  I am blessed beyond measure.


  1. Who are the people in your life who are asking the questions?

  2. Who are your coaches?

  3. What do you do to keep from sliding into complacency?

  4. What are your growing edges?

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