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Matej Grožaj
Personal coach
Z-Health Practitioner

Why it is important to understand emotions in swimming

Looking at the surface of the water is stressful for many non-swimmers and is immediately manifested by a change in facial expression. It usually always truthfully reflects the inner state of the individual. Slowing of movements, stiffness, speech disorder, change in face color - all this is the result of emotional whiplash, which is usually associated with loss of control of one's own body movements or consciousness. As if at some point our SELF disappeared or retreated into safety. It is the moment when the brain reflexively takes control of our body. Why? Because we exposed him to an extreme threat, which he perceives based on the intensity of the washed-up emotions. When the threat passes, our brain withdraws and our personality resurfaces and takes control of the body. This is manifested by renewed eye contact, a decrease in muscle tension and re-establishment of communication.

The uniqueness of emotions

It is important to remember that emotions are always unique, as is the situation that causes them to emerge. By guiding them properly, we are able to use them to our advantage. Believing that we don't need emotions, or thinking that we can afford to ignore them, can lead to fatal consequences in the water.

The instability of the water environment almost immediately reveals the weaknesses of non-swimmers, but also of many swimmers. Every person who decides to enter the aquatic environment should know how to handle their emotions and learn to control them. Otherwise, the risk of drowning increases.

In practice, I usually meet two groups of non-swimmers, who are characterized by different emotional expression during swimming training.

The first group of non-swimmers is unable to control and regulate their own emotions. In this case, there is nothing serious that cannot be changed by targeted training in the water. It requires properly set training, discipline, time and patience of a non-swimmer.

The second group of non-swimmers often shows no trace of emotion. One would think that he has someone in front of him who has his emotions under control and will progress quickly. However, practice often points to the exact opposite. Emotions are temporarily repressed and their release occurs only with time and at a certain turning point. That moment is usually the transition to deep water. Fear of depth activates defensive reflexes in the form of non-swimmer stiffness. Unfortunately, in the water, this subconscious brain reaction is undesirable for us. In the absence of a supervising person, or coach, a non-swimmer is at risk of drowning. Therefore, it is essential to be a non-swimmer at all times, not to underestimate the situation and intervene in time.

For a better understanding, I would like to give an example from practice. It is an exercise where we try to master breathing techniques in the water with non-swimmers. It is a demanding process that consists of two phases. The first is to sink to the bottom. The second is rising above the water level. Both phases are characterized by a different type of emotions and their intensity.

For a non-swimmer, both phases are difficult because emotions and their influence on his mental and physical state occur even before the dive itself. Many non-swimmers literally experience extreme surges of various emotions. I teach non-swimmers to overcome these undesirable states in training, thanks to which they are then able to control their emotions and immerse themselves.

Emotion regulation

Findings from practice confirm that the successful acquisition of breathing techniques is dependent on the non-swimmer's ability to control his emotions. The first step to success is therefore working with emotions, and this will then make it easier for many non-swimmers to concentrate on learning a new technique.

The speed with which a non-swimmer will progress during swimming training also depends on the ability to effectively control one's emotions. It is therefore important to accurately estimate the emotional state of the non-swimmer before diving. From the point of view of training safety, a non-swimmer can dive under water only after stabilizing his own emotions.

The ability to regulate a certain type of emotion comes after reaching a certain level of mental maturity. It's nothing extraordinary, it's nothing that can't be learned. Both adults and children will learn it. However, in the case of swimming training, it requires sufficient time in the water (everyone's time will be different), patience, discipline, an open mind and a desire to learn.

It is natural that from a certain intensity of flooded emotions, a person partially loses control over his actions. That is why it is necessary to learn to accept them.
It means repeatedly exposing them in an unstable water medium. Any good coach will show you techniques to counter them and how to control them.

The ability to navigate the training process based on emotional state requires time, experience and training. Those individuals who succeed will gain the key to understanding their OWN SELF. The ability to properly direct one's emotions is key not only for overcoming the fear of water, but also for successfully overcoming many life challenges.

Watch out for the ego!

It has no place in water. The aquatic environment immediately punishes us for every mistake. Water entering through the nasal and oral cavity or inhaling water can cause life-threatening complications for a person in the water environment. After emerging, it is necessary to get the water out. If this is not done, it can also have serious health consequences, such as partial brain damage due to the interruption of the oxygen supply, or in the worst case, fatal consequences in the form of drowning.

As in yoga, focusing on your own breath also applies here. For many people, achieving this state is difficult at first. The moment they succeed and dive under the water surface, they discover the magic of the water world.
The water environment provides us with privacy and silence. The moment when non-swimmers sit on the bottom for the first time becomes something special for them. Many discover and others re-experience states of calmness of mind, slowing of the breath and relaxation of the body.
This pleasant experience is closely related to the release of pleasant emotions. It is one of the main reasons why non-swimmers like to return to the bottom. At the same time, it is a good signal that signals the breaking of the barrier of fear and the strengthening of self-confidence in the non-swimmer's own abilities. Nothing stands in the way of discovering the aquatic environment.


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