Change Your Swimming in Three Minutes
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on April 3rd, 2014

Do you have three minutes to spare?

Not just any time. Specifically the three minutes just before you enter the pool, or any body of water.

If you do, try this: Sit or stand wherever you’re comfortable. Then breathe through your nose, counting down 20  breaths.

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Each time you exhale, think: 20 . . . 19 . . . 18 . . .

Try to think of nothing else, but the act of exhaling and the number you silently  ‘breathe.’

When you reach One, enter the water and begin your practice.

The first time you try this,  set a single goal: To focus only on a relaxing and complete exhale.  Leave a small ’empty’ space –lungs and mind–before the next inhale.

The second time, slow your breathing, slightly but progressively, as you count down. See if that leaves you feeling more relaxed and calmer.

The third time, notice any stray thoughts (other than breathing and counting) that occur. Practice letting them go and returning your focus to where you intend.

As you begin swimming, check in on the following:

  • Do you feel more relaxed physically?
  • Do you feel a little  calmer mentally–perhaps a bit more detached from whatever you were doing before coming to the pool?
  • Are you a little less distracted, more able to focus on the skills or sensations you’re aiming to improve?

If so, you’ve begun mastering the most important swimming skill of all — the ability to notice, to become more self-aware.

In 10 days or so, I’ll share the next level of this skill.

8 Responses to “Change Your Swimming in Three Minutes”

  1. Caty Franco says:

    I consider this excersice you suggested
    a clue before swimming. It is very common
    to jump into the swimming pool without
    relaxing, and start swimming carrying the
    office stress, the rush we have from the traffic
    and much more.
    When I swim it takes me a time to feel I
    relax and concentrate. Being in the moment is
    not an easy task. Thanks for sharing

  2. Iván says:

    Beautiful!!! Not only for swiming. 😉

    Looking foward to read about the next level.

  3. Saad says:


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  5. Tayla says:

    Relaxation and self-awareness in the water should definitely be something we teach children when learning to swim for the first time, especially in Australia where swimming is one of our most popular sports and past times. Having experienced the ultimate ‘panic’ in the water when first doing school beach swimming lessons, I would definitely support this initiative, as there is no worse feeling than entering the water feeling nervous and panicky. I would argue that this could lead to an increased inability to swim, especially when faced with open water conditions like rough waves and strong currents.

  6. Ellie says:

    I’m not a very good swimmer myself but I find if I swim laps then I will have to do some sort of relation before hand so I don’t shock my body too much. Swimming laps is a difference exercise that I don’t do as often as I should but the relaxation techniques can help with breathing and people that have difficulties with this.

  7. […] my previous installment in this three part series Change Your Swimming in Three Minutes I suggested setting aside three minutes at the beginning of practice-in most cases before you […]

  8. […] a 3 minute breathing exercise**. (See Coach Terry’s breathing idea on his […]

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