When I was younger I had a great fear of the water. Growing up, although knowing how to swim, I didn't have much of a connection with it and couldn't wait for swim team season to be over (the one season I did). Two summers ago a close friend got me to come out to the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. Right away it became a part of my physical routine first on a therapeutic level. That summer I had heightened feelings of anxiety and at the time the pool became the only thing to get me to a calm vibration. There is something about spending time in the water. Being completely immersed in a liquid that is somewhat covering and embracing every piece of your body. Possibly like laying in dirt, it’s as if you are giving the earth a hug. Basking in the all the wonders.
Swimming quickly took over my exercise routine, as a priority at times. Whether I made it for a mid day swim, which is my favorite time to go, or just ten minutes in between rehearsals I would feel as something was missing if I couldn't make it. It was also easy to fall in love when my time carrying out laps happened to be in a pristine outdoor olympic sized pool, not to mention that I live in Los Angeles. In one place, I am meditating, exercising, being outdoors and feeling tons of gratitude.
A few years ago I fell pretty hard performing which left me with a lower back prone to spams. I received incredible holistic treatment from Dr. Max in Los Feliz as well as the physical therapy of sorts I was providing myself every time I would enter the pool. The natural resistance and cardio that comes from being in the water is incredible. The lack of impact, while taking away the “chore” of doing a work out, makes it easy to perform a productive cross training exercise for dance. I believe the same would go for any other sport or art form.
The main stroke I perform is the breast stroke (froggy). Taking my time feeling out every part of each position invites me to enjoy the resistance the water gives. I have started incorporating the sensation of dancing in the water, while I am on my two feet in a studio or stage. Imagining I am moving through a constant matter that never ends adds such an incredible texture to movement. Finding the circles in life and most definitely in dance. The transformation in your transitions will be mind blowing.
Swimming has helped with an incredible amount of core strength growth. Before swimming i was close to having no core strength. Not at all an exaggeration. Corrections of relaxing my ribs, engaging my abdominals, and loosening my neck slowly started to dissipate as my time in the pool grew. My abdominals were engaging during bar without literally any thought. A dream it seemed to develop my leg using my lower abdominals to replace the stress I would put on my hip tendons. Now I have a solid base for my pirouettes, freedom in movement having a core energy source and my body has lengthened and defined effortlessly.
People normally ask me how many laps I swim. Personally I don't keep track. Although swimming is a cross training exercise, it is just that. An add on to improve my athletic build and agility for dance. Being a source of meditation I give myself more of a time limit to keep track of. On average I swim between 20 and 45 minutes. The pool, as is the ballet barre, I have found to be a sort of personal church.
Thank you for reading and please stay tuned for the next chapter of my cross training series.