Learning to Float

Wednesday’s Workout (NO CAP)
3-3-3-3 (heavy work sets)
Power Cleans

As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes:
10 KB swings (24/16)
10 push ups
10 jumping lunges

…and coming Thursday (NO CAP)

Franklin Hill
3x3rd Lamppost (140m)
2:30 rest between sprints

4x2nd Lamppost (100m)
2:00 rest between sprints

5x1st Lampost (60m)
1:00 rest between sprints
If you know me well, you know I never learned how to swim. If you know me really well, then you’ve probably heard some of the stories regarding my attempts to learn how to swim. People invariably upon hearing of my swim ignorance proclaim ridiculous things like, “Oh, it’s so easy!” To which I retort, “I don’t even know how to float!”

Well, this past weekend I floated for the first time in my life. 850 pounds of Epsom salt certainly helped, but I floated.

I was enticed into trying out a sensory deprivation tank. A few companies here in Portland offer ninety minute “floats” in the tanks for a minimal fee. The benefits listed are long and I didn’t doubt them, but I was quite nervous about the actual floating part. Whenever I’ve made an attempt at a swim lesson, the sensation of floating freaked me out. I don’t like water in my ears. I don’t trust to put my head in the water. And so on and so forth. I also frequently get vertigo when I can’t see a horizon line, so the idea of floating in a dark tank was pretty daunting.

But I did it. I hung onto a pipe on the wall for a while. No way of knowing how long. I had earplugs in, so all I could hear was the rhythm of my breathing. Then I decided to just hold onto a ledge at the side of the tub for a while. I practiced relaxing my neck and letting the water creep up on my face. Then I finally let go. Everything started spinning and I sat up with a splash, pawed at the walls, and reoriented myself. It’s actually not easy to sit upright in water that salty. And then I went through the whole process again. Logically, it was very silly. The salt water was eleven inches deep and the tank was shaped such that I couldn’t possibly change direction without bumping into a wall. But logic and emotion and instinct are not necessarily companions.

At some point I completely let go, physically and mentally. I just floated. And I thought, “Huh, this is why people like floating.” It was comfortable. It was relaxing.

I must have fallen asleep. I remember waking up with the thought, “You need to get out now. Get out now.” Before I was even conscious of what I was doing I was standing outside the tub. Somehow in my sleep, the lizard brain got triggered again and I got out of the tub. “What am I doing out here?” I thought.

And this is the best part.

I crawled right back in the tub, with no hesitation, flopped on my back like I was jumping in a king bed, and went right back to sleep – floating on for another thirty minutes undisturbed. And that to me is the triumph. I don’t know what health benefits, what meditation experience, or whatever sort of transcendental thoughts I was supposed to have. But I floated, without a care, for the first time ever in my life, and that’s a win.


Leave a Comment