I have been reading Stephen Covey recently. He is such a modern genius, I really love his insight. One thing he talks about is the notion of paradigms.

Each of us has many, many maps in our head, which can be divided into two main categories: maps of the way things are, or realities, and maps of the way things should be, or values....We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are, or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of those assumptions. --Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, p. 24

Sometimes with new information our paradigm can change or shift in an instant. It can be called the "Aha!" experience. Covey references Thomas Kuhn's book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions":

Kuhn shows how almost every significant breakthrough in the field of scientific endeavor is first a break with tradition, with old ways of thinking, with old paradigms. --Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, p. 29

Check out this great site where people have recorded their Aha! Moments. Pretty cool.

I have known for some time that my paradigm needed to shift regarding swimming. Actually several paradigms that I have concerning the sport needed to shift. I need to seek new information until I have an "Aha!" moment. I need to listen to many and all opinions until I strike gold. Some of my paradigms:

1) "There is one right swim stroke". In the past when I have talked to people about swim stroke I have received lots of different information. A lot of it has conflicted (head down, head up, head in the middle, ect). I have to change my paradigm. In the past I have let these differing opinions paralyze me, literally. I have been in the pool completely confused with what to practice and the next time it was time to go to the pool, I just didn't go. I have now accepted that everyone is going to tell me something different, that I need to expect this and as a result, listen to all of it. If I am open to all ideas, I firmly believe the right one will present itself.

2) "I'm not a very good swimmer". This has got to change. I swim in a Masters program where I am the slowest person in the slowest lane and it has a way of convincing me that I am something I am not. I swam from Alcatraz to shore, all by my little self, I swam 8,000 meters in the open water in one swim, I can swim. I'm a good swimmer, and I choose to want to be better.

So, the first step. Information. I went to SwimLabs. This was a place that I knew about, but had been afraid to go to because I was afraid of getting yet another confusing opinion. Well, I booked a session, and I just willed myself there. And guess what (Duh), it was awesome.

They have an endless pool and Mike, the owner, worked with me. He has multiple Masters World Records, and he looks at swim strokes all day for a living. Why was I not living on this guys front portch? (Your paradigms can be paralyzing, think about it). So he got me in there and over the 1/2 hour session he got me going with some great tips. The big one is that I drop my elbow, and I don't get my hand under my elbow before I pull my arm through the water. When I drop the elbow, I pull my arm through the water with my shoulder. He gave me some drills to work on this, and I practiced the drills there. Basically I need to think "Get your hand under your elbow, pointing straight down", now, "pull with your core and not your shoulder".

And then he showed me, step by step, milisecond, by millisecond, just what I was doing. Troy was there watching too, taking notes and keeping Annie from misbehaving herself. Troy walked out of there so jazzed (that's big for Troy). He really liked Mike and liked the way that they treated me in the session.

Before I left, Mike packed me up a little CD to take home so I can watch myself over and over. Wanna see? Of course you do! I'm in the green swimsuit with the pink cap.

Swim labs video - Initial shot, left is new, right is old (see the bubbles going everywhere) -some drills in there with video on how to do the drill - some slow drilling - the last shot is my fav, I can see that more power will come

So, it's one little piece. I'll be back at SwimLabs as soon as I feel better about working on this little suggestion. It will be an ongoing process.

One more thing. I wanted to work on changing my paradigm that I'm not a good swimmer. I wanted to work on my confidence a little. So I attended a different Masters. This one with Susan Williams, who has an Olympic bronze medal in triathlon, is a phenomenally fast swimmer, has a nice motherly attitude, and whom I really like. I went to her class, and low and behold I am in the middle lane. It was a little boost for me, plus she believes in the same stroke that SwimLabs teaches and can help me reinforce that.

I'm working on things here. But it's a work in progress. I am moving forward, trying to leave my cautiousness, and apprehension behind. Go big or go home!