The second time that I turned back to face inland, the cliffs suddenly seemed a lot larger than before, yet the tide was sucking me back out to sea. Hangover instantly dissipated, I realised that although I liked to go for a swim in the sea now and again, I didn’t actually know what I was doing.
And I’d recently signed up to a triathlon.
Since that over-confident dip off the Dorset coast, I’ve started swimming regularly. Only after five weeks have I realised that my breathing is holding me back. And my breathing is bad because, essentially, I’m nervous.
I’m nervous because I’m rushing home to get to the pool before it closes. I’m nervous because there are some very slick swimmers alongside me. I’m nervous because I thought I was supposed to hold my breath under water, and I don’t like doing that.
Turns out my confidence is low, and my technique totally and utterly wrong.
But with a bit of support, swimming each week, watching other people’s technique (discreetly, for fear of looking wierd), practising things I’ve picked up online, and most important of all, setting some simple goals, I’m beginning to feel more confident and my technique is improving.
I’m making a few mistakes as I go along, like the occasional mouth full of water, but help is never far away.
It feels good to build confidence in something that I’ve been avoiding for a long time. As a result I hope I can bring a bit more empathy to the people we train as part of our business.
My own experience with swimming, and conversations with the people on our Digital Action Plans, make me think there are a basic set of ingredients to building skills and confidence:
1. Making a weekly habit (of whatever you are trying to improve)
2. Setting short-term, achievable goals
3. Having a long-term need, or target
4. Practising technique, with some knowledgable support
Right now I’m still splashing about; out of breath, but in a fairly safe environment, and swimming a little further each week.