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Swimming to Cambozola

I swam a bit more than a mile today. Swimming in a pool is among the most boring of activities as the scenery never changes and there is no talking with your head underwater. A mile is about 70 laps of the pool. In a way it is similar to a long project. Of course with every project people develop ways of coping.

Most swimmers I know dream up one scheme or another. For longer sets I calculate the fraction complete to keep my mind occupied. Other people count strokes to build a rhythm, but perhaps the most common strategy is to break the session into various sets. If for example you were going to swim 2000 yards you might start with a 200 yd warm-up, then a set of 5 x100yd freestyle, then a set of 10x100yd im then a couple sprints and a warmdown. Going beyond this, you can add permutations of what time interval the set is on and also have the items in the set progress as you go along (ie: 50, 100, 150, 200 and then back down).

Back to the comparison with a project... each phase of the workout is kept under control by some agreed bundle of effort to be completed. The advantage is that unlike being told to just jump in the pool and swim, a set has a beginning and an end. It is actually something that you can finish before you go insane from monotony, and it is something you get a breather after. You get a chance to lift your head from the water and perhaps talk to the other swimmers. A project can benefit from a similar strategy. Setting milestones and taking some time to celebrate them is one way to do this. Having clear goals for each phase can help remove that feeling of "are we there yet?" which is discouraging when the answer is not really known.

Another lesson from swimming is that streamlining is key. I'm perhaps not much stronger or more fit than other swimmers I see in the pool, but I can gain several yards on them at every turn just by pushing off the wall with my arms stretched over my head and my toes pointed. Avoid the unessential and you will be yards ahead as well. Make every movement count.

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