Mental Intervals

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    Admin Mediterra

    When preparing to swim long distances, especially in open water, your body will not stop the swimming motion for long periods of time. Through conditioning, the body will be able to do this. But even the trained mind will be tempted to wander away long before the body has to stop moving.

    If you intend to keep attention on your movements to ensure they remain efficient and effective, you also have to train the mind to increase its endurance of attention. But whether you have really strong attention or not, attention on a certain point will only last so long. So, it is very helpful to practice intentionally shifting attention periodically during the swim. We call these mental intervals, since the the mind will switch focal points while the body keeps moving.

    Though there may be cases where attention needs to stay fixed much longer (like in survival situations) for training and racing purposes, you may aim to hold attention on a certain part of your stroke for 2 to 5 minutes, which is a good amount of time for neural training purposes. Estimate how far you can swim in 2 to 5 minutes and that tells you where you may set your mental intervals. 

    But your strength of attention needs to match that duration also. If you can only hold your attention on the chosen focal point for 50, then you may need to set your mental interval for just a minute. For some skills you can sustain attention longer and for others less. 

    In the pool, you can swim continuously, then decide to switch attention to a new set of focal points after a certain distance. For example, if you are swimming continuously for 3000 straight, you might choose to switch focal points every 200. Mentally, your swim would be broken up into 15x 200 although you would not stop to rest physically.

    5 rounds of 3x 200 = 3000

    Round assignments:

    • Round 1: blend focal points AB
    • Round 2: blend focal points AC
    • Round 3: blend focal points BC
    • Round 4: blend focal points ABC
    • Round 5: blend focal points of your choice

    In open water, where there is not a convenient way to divide up your swim by distance, you can use Stroke Count Intervals instead. For this, you simply count a certain number of strokes and then switch your focal point.

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