Swimming has always had more of a sense of adventure for me than other forms of exercise. While it’s fun to share a game of tennis with someone, or to go for a run and see the local park, I guess it’s the unusual nature of being in water that feels a bit more playful to me.
Sure, you can splash around with friends in the pool, and the games that are made possible through genuinely being able to move in three dimensions are really fun. But for me I find it as enjoyable to meditatively swim my laps, up and down, up and down.
I guess that’s a case in point: if I were told to jog from one end of a room and back again, repeatedly, I’d soon get bored. But with avoiding slower swimmers, swallowing water and crashing into the side and the gentle lapping of the waves, it takes on a different function.
I can see that if I were training for a triathlon this would soon cease to be play. Perhaps it’s that the experience is unusual, and that I’m able to apply attention to it, examining the difference in movement, weight and support in the water. Often trying to swim whilst displacing as little water as possible is just as much play as splashing around!
Even in high school, I’d tell my mom I was sick of swimming and wanted to try to play golf. She wasn’t too happy. She’d say, ‘Think about this.’ And I’d always end up getting back in the pool. – Michael Phelps
Ease of play: 7/10
Resemblance to play: 6/10
Potential frequency of play: High