This blog is all about swimming. So, being rather perverse by nature, I am going to talk about NOT swimming.
It is very easy to think that every trip to the pool or dip in the sea is all about swimming. You can concentrate on how many lengths you can do or perfecting a particular stroke. That is fine, but it is also worthwhile remembering that the water is an ideal medium for relaxation. Without the pull of gravity – as you are almost weightless in water – unique approaches to resting the body are presented.
If you are at the pool with friends, just bobbing around chatting is relaxing. I tend to allow my body to float, gently tapping off from the bottom from time to time. Of course, in a deeper pool, treading water is ideal. But to truly relax, you need to stretch out and let the water just carry you. My wife will commonly just lie on her back, letting the currents and eddies in the pool take her where they will. Obviously this does require a little care and consideration for other pool users. As a man, I am unlikely to ever be able to float with no action for a long period. On average, our bodies are built differently [and “vive la difference!” I say] and the slight change in fat distribution means that women have the advantage when it comes to passive floating.
I favour what I call the “star” position: arms and legs somewhat stretched out, face down, gently exhaling. The occasional kick of my legs keeps me afloat and, of course, a pause for breathing is needed from time to time. [I must try this with a snorkel sometime.] I have read that this position is also called “dead man’s float” and I guess that gives a clue to the possibility that the unwary observer might be alarmed by my relaxation. It’s is best to move occasionally!
Doing some Internet research suggests that this position is very widely advocated for relaxation, so I am not the first to discover it. Indeed, there are records of various famous people being recommended it – Doris Day, for example. However, reading these notes carefully, the recommendation is often for floating face up and they still call it “dead man’s float”. Very odd.