INTRODUCTION
(Two extracts from Learn to Swim Before You Get In, by Joe Lee Griffin, PhD)


Swimming is wonderful exercise. That is, it is wonderful exercise, if you are reasonably skilled, relaxed, and not stressed by unfamiliar surroundings, performance anxiety, or worries about your safety. If you are struggling with yourself, can't breathe, and get tired after one trip across the pool, swimming is not YET wonderful exercise for you.

I believe you can learn to swim well and that, as you associate with me through this book, you will come to believe that you can learn to swim well.

The core of this book is the learning games, exercises to connect you with yourself and your body. The games give you what children who learn to swim get by playing in the water; the skills that make it possible to learn to swim.


Swimming is like walking, a function of your nonconscious mind. The best swimmers learned as children and don't know consciously how they learned. Even advice from a skilled coach may be best suited to athletes with unconscious skills and not to you. There are many gifted teachers who can help you, who are supportive, relaxed, and caring. There are also caring people who want to help, but give advice that doesn't help. Your best expert is within yourself. If you try what you have been advised to and it feels easier, simpler, and more flowing, then the advice was useful. If it doesn't feel that way, assume the advice was off, not that you are off.

Repetitions are recommended in the learning games. Note that these are pleasant, easy, flowing repeats, not repeats involving struggle, muscle tension, discomfort, or insecurity. Skilled athletes often seem to be working hard, staying at it. I believe that the best athletes enjoy the sensation of their functioning body, even at high load levels, and prolong practices for that reason, as well as because of achievement goals. Most of my students need to enjoy repeats of smooth, easy, simple motions, because they lack the physical learning talents of the most gifted athletes. In other words, if you struggle and work hard at your learning, you are likely to improve your struggling skills, not your swimming skills.


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