We enter the meditative state induced by counting laps, and observe the subtle play of light as the sun moves across the lanes. We sing songs, or make to-do lists, or fantasize about what we’re going to eat for breakfast. Submersion creates the space to be free, to stretch, without having to contend with constant external chatter. It creates internal quiet, too. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of them all, was found to have A.D.H.D. when he was a child; he has called the pool his “safe haven,” in part because “being in the pool slowed down my mind.”

…Five hundred lengths in a pool were never boring or monotonous; instead, Dr. Sacks writes, “swimming gave me a sort of joy, a sense of well-being so extreme that it became at times a sort of ecstasy.” The body is engaged in full physical movement, but the mind itself floats, untethered…The enforced solitude is at odds with where we are as a culture. Our gyms are full of televisions tuned to SportsCenter and cable news. We’re tethered to our devices, even at bedtime. With that pervasive lack of self-control, who has the willpower to turn off technology for any meaningful period of time? I submit: Sliding into the water is the easiest way to detach from your phone.

~ Bonnie Tsui, The Self Reflecting Pool

Photograph: Troy Jack



  1. Reblogged this on Voice of Lesbian Senior and commented:
    This I have to search …. I need to untether!


  2. Makes me wish I was a better swimmer…happily tho’ I can untether easily. Put a book in my hands and a gentle breeze trying to turn the pages before I’m ready..


  3. I’ve recently started swimming in the ocean when it is flat and calm. I feel so free and present when I swim.


  4. todessakane2013 says:

    Swimming is a wonderful haven to me to, in fact water in general seems to totally revitalize me. We have some beautiful walks around where I live each one of which comes with a wonderful stretch of water, love it 🙂


  5. This is wonderfully said! The water whether a pool, lake or ocean is such a tranquil place!


  6. Reblogged this on Adventures of Pickles & Peanut.


  7. Never knew that about Michael Phelps! I’ve added swimming to my mental list of Middle Ground experiences. 😉


  8. Untethered, yes! Willpower to turn off technology, yes! Just back from 2 weeks out of the country, electronics-free – totally awesome and totally tough to reimmerse! Thanks for this post, David.


  9. floating through the sensory deprivation tank.


  10. This sounds wonderful and I get the concept, but I don’t swim well enough to enjoy it. (Dog paddling gets tiring… 😉 ) I find my peaceful place in yoga…


  11. Oh, this is it! Exactly it! I’m up to 90 minutes of non-stop laps. It’s the best part of my day—moving with grace and slowing my mind. Of course I’m stealing this. Thanks, David.



  1. […] reblogged from David Kanigan’s Live & Learn […]


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