Learning to swim without stress is the best way to master and improve strokes and technique, says Bluewater swim coach Adam Paulsson (photo credit: Magnus Peterson)

The Adam Paulsson Blog 'Dive In', #4 – it's all about relaxing

Whether you are splashing around in the shallow end of a swimming pool with armbands or swimming long distance in the sea, swimming should all be about enjoying being in the water. That’s why my first word of advice to everyone I coach is to relax.

Young or old, there’s a tendency for us humans to be highly competitive, just look at how the young kids love thrashing up and down a pool racing one another. But, honestly, learning to swim without stress is the best way I know to master and improve strokes and technique, which then translates later on into smooth, efficient swimming styles that will last a lifetime.

One of the most frequent complaints I hear from folks is that pool swimming is boring and monotonous. I disagree. Working out in a pool is the ideal place to take a mental break from everything else going on in your world.

Nothing beats swimming for de-stressing. When you’re in an aerobics or spinning class, you’re constantly being told what to do, usually by somebody with a bombastic voice. When jogging or cycling you’re almost always looking out for a problem to avoid, posed by a vehicle, pedestrians, potholes, grumpy dogs and more. In the pool you are about as safe as you can be from outside influences. And you can just about forget injuring yourself, unless you swim into a wall.

When I swim I find myself mentally letting go of everything after just a few strokes. I melt into the water, feeling how it supports me. By focusing on my breathing, I relax my muscles, allowing my back to lengthen and my joints to soften. The enjoyment of experiencing a flowing, unconstricted movement as you glide through the water is frankly something wonderful, no matter how times you experience it.

After all my years of training since I was a long kid of 8 or 9, being in the water still always makes me happy. When I reflect about all the pleasures that have made me happy in my life, a lot of the images are about swimming in a lake that is covered by a mist early on a summer morning. Or treading water in warm salty seas of a Thai or Malaysian beach. The fact that swimming it is also good for my health and wellbeing – and career – is an added bonus.

Swimming is not just an ideal way to exercise. It’s also a way to forget the troubles you’ve been struggling with on dry land. So, come on, be the water babe you want to be, dive in!