Podcasts, intensive listening practice, and water

Recently I figured out a way to “marry” two of my favorite activities: swimming and listening to podcasts. Last year I got a Neptune by Finis, an underwater mp3 player that uses bone conduction (and the fact that you are underwater) to allow you to listen to things while you swim.

Up until about a month ago I had just been listening to music…you know, that special genre of music you have to have playing to motivate yourself to move.  And it was getting stale. Or predictable. Or both.  Yes there was a time that listening to the “House of Cards” theme song on a loop could have made me want to swim harder, longer and faster….but then it stopped.

And then I discovered something: My headset could play podcasts!  I was worried at first that the bubbles and the splashing and such would prevent me from hearing things clearly… but I was delighted to learn that those concerns were unfounded.  My world exploded.  I could have people telling me stories while I swam!  I can now submerge myself in storytelling — I have a snorkel so I never have to surface if I don’t want to and often I don’t 🙂  I become totally absorbed.

I have now taken to putting together playlists based upon the amount of time each episode runs, an slowly pushing myself to (when I can) longer swim times based upon the stories being told.  I can, for example, string together three 20 minute shows when I want to swim longer and I need to keep my brain engaged (whereas a 60 minute podcast might be a too long, didn’t listen kinda thing) .

This + a swimming pool that is often empty in the winter months + floor to ceiling windows that let sunshine (when we have it) in = happiness.  #selfcare

This has also opened my brain to new ways of listening.  I know from this experience that being underwater helps me shut out  a huge amount of external distractions that might otherwise prevent me from listening carefully and thoroughly.  For me it takes the solitude of swimming and it makes it  productive and enjoyable.  I find myself looking forward to immersing myself in words and water on a daily basis. I listen to episodes of Radio Ambulante  and Alt.Latino underwater and think about ways to use them with my students while doing flip turns. I have also discovered Reply All and 99% invisible while underwater. It’s been great.

If  you are interested in learning  about the contraption that I strap to my head, this video (below) should help. I highly recc’d the website swimoutlet.com for buying swim stuff (pro tip: search for “grab bag” swimsuits and get suits for a fraction of what they normally cost). I got my Neptune here too.

Featured Image in honor of Petey our Springer Spaniel who passed away in November at the age of 15. In his prime, Petey loved to swim. We miss him.

Featured image by Seth Casteel from his terrific photo series “Underwater Dogs

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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