Today, between laps at the local pool, I stopped to observe the women's water polo team. I'm a novice swimmer, and my form needs work. I thought I might glean something useful from watching athletes practice.
I was right! I noticed the tight, efficient movements with which they lifted their arms out of the water and shot them back in. I also noted the quick cadence of the players' strokes.
I applied the same economy and vigor of motion on my next lap, and was rewarded with an immediate increase in the speed and smoothness with which I moved through the water. I managed six or eight short, sharp strokes between breaths, instead of four sloppy ones, and I learned viscerally what swimmers and surfers mean by "pulling yourself through the water."