Variety, Adaptation, and the Foreign Environment

When I look at a human being, I see a learning and adaptation machine. I think that our ability to alter our form is what sets us apart from the rest of the earth's creatures, or at least is one of the few things that we do in a superior manner. The benefits of variety (which you might call “cross training”) from a psychological perspective are widely appreciated. Coaches and athletes like to eliminate boredom because bored athletes tend to miss more workouts. But I think it goes deeper than that. I think that the human craving for variety is instinctive, and an integral part of our superb ability to adapt and transform ourselves. I believe that by employing variety we can optimize the stimulus that will help us to find the subtleties that lead to truly superior execution, innovate unknown aspects of refined technique, and expand our awareness.

The passive technique approach used in our courses employs variety to develop each of the four basic skills: awareness, rhythm, physical vocabulary and relaxation. It also employs variety as a means of providing the stimulus for integration. While a passive technique approach might be used for developing almost any skill, I think that the unique nature of swimming truly calls for it. At its core, learning to swim requires adapting to a foreign environment (the aquatic one). Beyond the basic challenge of getting sufficient oxygen (no mean feat before you have mastered swimming) so many of the basic motions, limb/body positions, and sequences of movements used in swimming are alien to the human physiology. However, while this perspective sees a benefit in variety for variety’s sake, a structured program contains certain inevitable outcomes that are a consequence of the activities that make up the structure. This course attempts to provide the tools that can be used to create variety, as well as insight into the outcomes that are a product of employing these tools and techniques. While it lays out a set of workouts that are designed to introduce, refine and reinforce the basic skills needed for optimal freestyle swimming, the individual is encouraged to add their own texture to the workout, using the drills and activities in this program, or simply applying the approach and insights used in our programs to invent, interpret and implement other drills and activities. In other words…

Free your mind, and your stroke will follow