Guided visualization, mindfulness and meditation are practices used by many endurance athletes. But there will be no one who willingly places himself in such extreme isolation in the open water as will Ben Lecomte in his upcoming transoceanic stage swim from Tokyo to San Francisco.
Lecomte describes his own form of meditation:
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you practice meditation?
Ben Lecomte: It is a form of meditation, I am not sure if it can be called meditation.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you believe meditation can be practiced while swimming?
Ben Lecomte: I use my own form of meditation, specifically when I swim.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How is meditation on land different than meditation while swimming?
Ben Lecomte: In my case, I can practice it anywhere.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Are there specific advantages to meditation on land versus in the water?
Ben Lecomte: At times it might be easier in the water because I am isolated of many distractions I have on land.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you ever ‘lose yourself’ or daydream while swimming?
Ben Lecomte: That’s my goal and why I meditate.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you believe the traditional sensory deprivation of swimming in the open water is beneficial or conducive to mindfulness while swimming?
Ben Lecomte: Yes, I think there is a big advantage in being and practicing in the water for that specific reason. It is then easier to redirect you senses into focusing on a different stimulus.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How can we learn or develop better ways of mindfulness or meditation while swimming?
Ben Lecomte: Repetition is the key for me. The more I do it in the same environment (while swimming) helps me become better at it.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you practice yoga to benefit or augment your swimming workouts?
Ben Lecomte: No, I don’t.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you pray during, before or after your swims?
Ben Lecomte: Sometimes but sporadically, it is not planned.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you have anything else to add about mindfulness or meditation in the water?
Ben Lecomte: What I try to accomplish by putting myself in that particular state is to dissociate my mind from my body. In order to do that I have to involved all my senses and engage them to feel a certain way depending on what I try to visualize and where I want to take my mind. Then when my mind reaches that particular state my body is in autopilot and I swim without realizing it.
Lecomte’s Kickstarter campaign for his unprecedented solo stage swim across the Pacific Ocan is currently underway here.
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