“Swimming is like meditating while moving. The best of me emerges in the water”, explains Christian Jongeneel, an open water swimmer who, among other feats, has completed the night crossing of the Gateway of India. In total, 40 km swimming in the dark through the Ganges, without a neoprene suit and between strong currents, in a journey in which sharks make an appearance in 20% of the occasions. The funds raised by this man from Malaga with Dutch parents are allocated to the Brazadas Solidarias project promoted by the Vicente Ferrer Foundation in India.
“Swimming is a physical liberation. It makes me enjoy almost as much as when I dance with my wheelchair to a song by Glenn Miller”, admits Mari Carmen Riu, the first Spanish Paralympic medalist. It was in 1968 in Tel Aviv (Israel) when Riu won two silver medals.
“Swimming makes me feel alive”, says Jordi Granada at 85 years of age, after completing some lengths in the lanes of Club Natació Atlètic-Barceloneta. "In addition to marriage and children, it has been the great illusion of my life," says this former player of the Spanish water polo team who still remembers as if it were yesterday when they faced the Netherlands in 1960 in the pre-Olympic ("they won 4 -3”, he says).
Nothing makes me feel alive. Apart from marriage and children, it has been the great illusion of my life”Jordi GranadaPlayer for the Spanish water polo team
“Swimming has given me a lot of physical and mental resistance, as well as strengthening my spirit”, answers María Ballesté, a swimmer in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, when asked about what swimming has given her in her daily life, from the perspective of time. "Sometimes you have a bad week but then you get to the water, swim and feel optimistic and reconciled with the world again," explains the former Spanish champion in multiple modalities (100, 200, 400, 800 meters, 100 butterfly, etc.), between 1961 and 1968. "But what swimming has given me the most is gratitude," he adds.
At her side, Miquel Torres, her husband, nods. He also enjoyed three Olympic Games (Rome'60, Tokyo'64 and Mexico'68). In fact, it was Torres who realized that that blonde and thin girl who wore a foot size 40 and swam in the outdoor pool of the Club Natació Sabadell promised a lot. At that time, Torres was almost as well known as Manolo Santana, after being the first Spaniard to win a silver medal in the 1,500-meter event held in Leipzig (Germany) for the European Championship. He is less well known than he was then. There were no 50-meter pools on the peninsula, so both he and his future wife, Maria Ballesté, prepared the race in an irrigated pond in Rellinars (Barcelona).
Breathe, hold your breath, push yourself and glide over the water, breathe again, and clear your mind and flow with the water, that's one possible definition of swimming
“Having my head stuck in the water for so many hours –explains Torres– has helped me to have a lot of self-discipline and so that some things have seemed somewhat easier to achieve in daily life”, reveals this record holder.
In What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Tusquets), the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami explains that repeatedly performing any act, however trivial it may be (and he gives shaving as an example), contains a philosophy. Murakami started jogging almost daily in 1982, when he was 33 years old. At that time, I smoked 60 joints a day and weighed a few extra kilos. As if that were not enough, he did not feel any attraction to sports, of which he had become fed up at school, much less for ideas of the type: "Come on, let's all go running and lead a healthy life." The fact is that Murakami signed up for a five kilometer race and was as captivated by the sound of his sneakers on the asphalt as he was by Red Hot Chili Peppers. From what the writer later discovered, the success of running lies in connecting with yourself and feeling the satisfaction of giving yourself fully.Read also
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“Swimming has made me feel useful as a person,” admits Jordi Granada. “For many years, I worked like an animal selling fish in Mercabarna from very early on,” says this Barcelonan born in 1936 about starting work at the age of 14. “Being able to swim at the end of the day became a much-needed complement. I worked because I had to work, but swimming is what has made me feel useful as a person", explains the first international of the former Club Natació Atlétic, an entity founded in 1913, at 85. Even now, when he is pending surgery from behind, Granada can be seen swimming 600 meters every day in this centenary club in the Barceloneta neighborhood. His great passion has never left him, to the point of having been a water polo coach and having won several veteran swimming championships in Spain, already at the age of 75. “Many of my great friends come from swimming. I will continue swimming as long as I can because it gives me security”, he advances.Read also
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“When I'm in the water I do what I want,” says Ríu about wearing swimming since he was 7 years old, when he was diagnosed with polio. It was then that the doctors advised her parents to take her to the beach. “At first, I was swimming my style. It was after the summer, when I had to go swimming every day at the Club Natació Catalunya pool, which was then on Travessera de Gràcia. There I learned to swim”, he recalls. “Coming winter came, I still needed to swim, so my parents hired a trainer. I was with him from 7 to 15 years old. One day, seeing me swim, someone asked me if I wanted to go to the Olympics," he recounts about the two silver medals that ended up hanging from his chest in 1968.
Last year I went to l'Estartit and since it is very difficult to get a wheelchair onto the boat, they threw me overboard near the beach and I came back swimming”Mari Carmen Riu
Now, At 69 years old, Ríu swims when he feels like it. “Last year, for example, I went by boat around L'Estartit (Girona) and, as it is very difficult to get a wheelchair onto the boat, what they do is throw me overboard near a beach so that I can swim back. For me, life is enjoying and in the water I can do it”, he continues. "Swimming has helped make everything more fun," he admits.
When someone is submerged in water, blood moves from the extremities to the heart and lungs, increasing the efficiency of the cardiovascular system and having a therapeutic effect. Likewise, when swimming, the water opposes a gentle resistance that forces all the muscles of the body to work to overcome it.
Swimmers say that swimming allows them to escape from everyday life and enter a kind of personal isolation that allows them to connect with their interiority
According to swimmers and swimmers Consulted in this report, swimming allows us to escape from everyday life and enter a kind of sensory isolation that facilitates connecting with the interior of each one, in the midst of the storm of white foam that unleashes the waving of the feet and arms when sliding.
She stood by the bar for a moment, careful not to get caught up in any conversation that might delay her journey. When he seemed about to be surrounded, he jumped into the water and swam..."John CheeverExcerpt from the story 'The Swimmer', made into a movie starring Burt Lancaster
In a story by John Cheever from 1968 entitled The Swimmer, from which a film was made played by Burt Lancaster, one of the characters (Neddy Merrill) wants to get to his house by swimming across the pools of the neighbors in his residential area. To do this, you must avoid the parties organized around each pool. At one of the stops, Neddy “stayed by the bar for a moment, careful not to get caught up in any conversation that might delay his journey. When he seemed about to be surrounded, he jumped into the water and swam." Seen this way, water is still a bubble in which it is possible to avoid any social pressure to live with greater intensity a hobby that, according to what those who practice it, is, in addition to a sport, a way of understanding life .
The thousand and one chronicles of water
The fascination exerted by the oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, rafts and swimming pools dates back to antiquity. Euripides wrote that "the sea restores the health of men." For their part, the Romans bathed in hot water pools and then went to the frigidarium –an invigorating cold water bath– which closed the pores and left the bathers feeling like new. In the Roman Empire, military training for young people included swimming and bathing in the Tiber river. Without going any further, Julius Caesar was described as a skilled swimmer who managed to escape from the Egyptians in the battle of Alexandria, in 48 BC, by jumping into the sea. The samurai also devised a wide variety of swimming techniques to float for long periods, ford impetuous rivers and surprise the enemy. To do this, they gave primacy to grace and elegance, with leisurely movements that reflected phenomena such as ripples and waves, in such a way that the body and the water could move harmoniously as if they were one. Countless scientists and thinkers have rocked their ideas in the water While stationed in London between 1757 and 1775, Benjamin Franklin, for example, swam daily in the Thames. Cold bathing was a very popular therapy at the time, which led the inventor of the lightning rod to bathe naked regularly throughout his long life. As for the poet Lord Byron, in 1810 he swam across the Hellespont – the dangerous strait of more than six kilometers known as the Dardanelles – from the Aegean to the Sea of Marmara, swimming with the tide from Europe to Asia. Byron, Tsui tells in Why We Swim?, was obsessed with swimming. The deformity he suffered in one leg severely affected his gait. "I delight in the sea," he wrote, "and I come out with an effervescence of spirit that I never feel at other times." Byron fantasized about having been a merman in a previous life and after his successful crossing of the Hellespont, he gave birth to Written After Swimming from Sestos to Abydos, a satirical poem. For his part, the British naturalist Roger Deakin stated in Water Diaries that the Swimming has a transformative Alice in Wonderland quality: "When you enter the water, it's like a metamorphosis," he observed. The late neurologist and author Oliver Sacks acknowledged writing books in his head while swimming. Also Henry David Thoreau got up very early to swim while writing Walden in a cabin located 30 minutes from Boston. He described it as "a religious exercise" that helped him live slowly and allowed him to direct his inner life. “Renew yourself completely every day; do it once, and again, and always ”, can be read in Walden.