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An underwater picture of a wave rolling overhead.

Secrets of the Deep: Why We Love (& Need) Swimming

12/10/2014, 5:00am PST
By Kelvin Cech

Part 3: Everyone needs an escape sometimes.


For busy hockey parents in Vancouver, Edmonton, Fort St. John and Mexico, sometimes the prospect of spending another early morning in a hockey rink is just too much. 

That’s why transplanting yourself into a completely altered environment is a trend that’s slowly catching on in busy hockey markets all over the country.

Last week we talked about the specific benefits of jumping into the pool every week. 

This week we’re talking the mental effects of those benefits, the secret ways our subconscious mind is repaired and rejuvenated by being totally submersed in the water. 

1. Weightlessness

We’re often burdened by the weight of the situations in our lives. Our schedules, the schedules of our significant other, the burdens we place on ourselves to get our children to school, to soccer, to whatever it is they’re doing next.

Swimming releases us from those burdens, literally and figuratively. Floating beneath the water feels like transforming into a new person. The atmosphere itself changes, self-loathing and doubt is left behind and new possibilities open up once we’re back on land. 

Swimming is the ultimate re-starter. 

Jenny Landreth is the writer of a book called Swimming London. Jenny is obsessed with the first few seconds of a new lap, much the same way hockey players are obsessed with their first lap around the rink.

“When I'm in the water I'm elementally myself, floating free of any worries, self-consciousness or physical discomfort. What's your reason for pestering the pool?”

Jenny Landreth, the UK Guardian

2. Push Your Boundaries

Ever feel like you exist merely to serve someone else? 

Don’t get me wrong, most of us live a life of luxury relative to much of the world, but ignoring stress because you generally have it pretty good is still unhealthy. 

With that caveat, here’s a truth that’s as cold as jumping in a lake in the middle of November: taking up swimming equals taking back your life. 

Swimming forces us to confront our own fears in a primal way while absent the fears of those around us in our life. For instance, the fear of not being able to breathe. Swimming confronts the very nature of the human condition. 

Achieving the simple act of regulating your breathing can have enormous effects on your ability to control the aspects of your life outside of the water. 

3. Restart Your Mind, Body & Soul

James Nestor is an avid free-diver and the author of Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, And What The Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves.

James believes that there’s an entire universe of knowledge awaiting us below the surface of the ocean. For James, the journey below the water is akin to the journey below the surface of our subconscious. To him, floating free underwater, whether it’s the Pacific or the West Van Rec Centre, is a spiritual experience that teaches us about our body and mind. 

Diving to the bottom of the ocean for 15 minutes without any equipment might not be the quickest (or safest) way to an emotional and mental overhaul during a busy hockey season, but it does illustrate the way in which a new environment can re-set our brains and remind us about what’s important. 

Plus, there’s always a hot tub to look forward to afterwards. 


photo credit: Sunova Surfboards via photopin cc

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