The power of reflection

Ocean swimming is a unique challenge.

As we know, unlike the pool, ocean conditions are different every time you enter the water. The size and direction of the swell, the distance between waves, the strength and direction of the wind, sandbanks, gutters, sweeps, tides, water clarity, blueys… the combinations are endless.

This is my absolute favourite thing about swimming in the ocean, and the reason I get massive FOMO if I miss a day – even the cold, dark, rainy, choppy ones when no one else wants to be at the beach. If I missed out, it will never be the same.

The ocean provides us with endless opportunities to learn from our mistakes, test our skills, and develop our surf sense – IF we take the time to reflect.

Unlike following the black line, there is nothing mindless about ocean swimming. Both during and after a swim, we are constantly learning. Trial and error.

From the moment you hit the water, the thoughts are racing:

“Geez, it’s a bit hard to get out today, I should have looked for a rip, I should have waited for a lull, I should have dived under that wave earlier, I should have dived down deeper, I should have seen that second wave coming and stayed under for both…”

Whatever the mistake, the key is acknowledging it and making every effort not to let it happen again.

When swimming out the back, every stroke can seem like a struggle some days:

“Am I sighting as often as I need to swim straight? Am I breathing in the right direction to avoid mouthfuls of water? How can I change my stroke to get into a rhythm? Relax!!”

It’s easy to think about these things when the swim is not going well, but it’s just as important to reflect when it is! Rather than zoning out, think:

“Why did it feel so easy this time? How did I manage to catch that wave? I was in exactly the right place at the right time – now, how do I do that again??”

Acknowledge your successes and try to reproduce them.

When you swim, think about what you are doing and why. Your goal should be to swim with thought and purpose. Reflect in the moment and look at the big picture. Yes, you may have made a few mistakes but look how far you’ve come! There is so much to be learned from every experience in the ocean.

Not every day will feel like the best swim you’ve done, but it is never wasted – IF you take the time to reflect.

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