February 2, 2013

In search of perfection

Some people scrapbook, some people knit.  I, however, often use my “free” time to watch videos and read about how people transition from one event to another in triathlons, of people riding bikes up hills, of people running down hills, and of people swimming.  Exciting, right?  Lately, I’ve been studying the flip turn which comes in very handy when lap swimming….but happens to be totally useless during a triathlon.   I first learned how to do a flip turn when I was about 12 years old – all tolled in my life so far, I have done thousands of flip turns.  That realization alone could be an entire post in and of itself.

So why now?  Why change something that really isn’t needed to finish a triathlon successfully or for that matter isn’t really even needed at all (many people log in hundreds of hours in a pool and never once turn upside down)?  Why spend time on something that I can already do with some proficiency and is comfortable?  The answer: I have no idea – EXCEPT that I occasionally become obsessed with performance of a task and doing it the most effective and efficient way possible.  To work towards having a close to perfect outcome every time.  For example, there’s something very soothing to me in being able to produce a perfectly folded t-shirt….again, there’s enough there for another entirely separate post and probably a little psychotherapy!  I fold a mean bath towel too.
I have no interest in doing everything perfectly.  I don’t even have an interest in doing most things perfectly, but every once in awhile I am compelled to seek perfection.   For some reason, I recently became acutely aware of how imperfect my flip turns were during workouts and I had to fix it.  Suddenly, after 30 years of mediocre flip turns I had to do better.   I’ve always known that my turn on the wall was not great – it was adequate – to the untrained eye, maybe even normal looking.  But I could feel the inefficiencies – too many arm motions in awkward directions, turning too close to the wall, too much body rotation, imperfect but it got the job done.

So fast forward to this week - thanks to YouTube and a little practice, I had not one, but several perfect flip turns.   Arms in exactly the right position, feet landing on the wall with just the right amount of hip and knee flexion, and a very smooth transition back to front crawl position with minimal effort.  Perfect.  Well, they probably weren’t exactly perfect as we all know that excellence is a journey, not a destination….blah, blah, blah….but in my book I am calling them perfect.  I smiled in the water after I pushed off from the wall because they felt so effortless and I had finally nailed the technique.  Like hitting a ball with the sweet spot of a racket or a bat.  The perfect golf swing.  After 30 years, I think I finally GOT IT!
As silly as it sounds, it made my day.  Now if only I could learn to flip the perfect pancake.....

1 comment:

I would love to hear from you!