Of all the things I’ve missed during the pandemic, swimming ranks high. In the water, all of my worries disappear, and as those worries have piled up at an alarming rate over the past six months while the pools in New York City have remained closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak, I’ve had little recourse to calm my mind.
“With swimming, you’re taken outside of your normal environment the moment you plunge into the water,” Bonnie Tsui, author of Why We Swim, confirms of the activity’s transcending capabilities. “You’re enveloped completely by a medium in which sound is muted, vision is blurred or fogged, taste and smell are limited,” Tsui says. This muting of the senses “encourages a kind of internal retreat,” she continues. “The hushed sound of water boosts alpha wave activity—those brain waves associated with relaxation and creative thinking. Things drift in and out, and you find that you make connections you might not have otherwise.”