The strong connection between swimming and writing by Gal Barkan

Blue light and silence. The computer screen is the only light in this time of night. The world is asleep around me, the only ones awake are the dreamers, such as myself. In the still of night the stories come out to play with me. The blue light shines into my eyes as my fingers unnoticeably tap the steady rhythm of my imagination and make everything come alive.

Blue light and silence. Water envelopes me, cradles me, caresses me. The world around me disappear, and the only thing that remains in the steady pace of my strokes, the rhythm of my breathing. When I swim I can clear my mind of worry, of pain, of other people. I can be who I am. I can feel everything. In the water the stories take shape, and everything becomes clearer.

Writing, for me, is a great adventure, one I never know I’m about to embark on, or what shape it will take. Every book is a different universe, a different adventure. U never know what’s going to happen next, so I give myself to it completely and wholeheartedly. When I write, there is no fear. I don’t care what other people would say. I don’t write for them. I write because I have to, because the people in my head, the stories, want to come out to play with me .I write because love asks me to speak for it.

This feeling of being inside and outside of myself, of utter courage and utter abandonment is a rare and beautiful thing. When I don’t write, I find it in the water. Throughout my whole life I’ve been afraid of drowning. When I gave myself to the water there was no fear anymore, just calm, so every time anew I remind myself that I have the courage to laugh at the face of my fears, that I deserve to be loved, enveloped, caressed. I swim.


Gal Barkan, the Israeli author of a successful romantic novel and a short story collection, whose children’s books are being taught in schools, is publishing her new novel, “Toy-Boy”, in English these days.

Gal is also editor in chief of the online magazine “Amour”, where she publishes short stories in Hebrew and English.

Gal (whose name means “wave” in Hebrew) started swimming WEST two years ago, to overcome her fear of drowning and to help her concentration. With the help of Ori Sela, she could swim without fear after only a few practices, and has since then achieved perfect style, if not speed.

Why WEST swimming and why Ori?

This is what she says:

When I write, I need every word to be in perfect harmony, every comma to tell my reader exactly where I want them to take a breath of air. It is the same with swimming. I needed the most professional teacher, someone who has swimming running in his blood, like I have writing. I needed a method where every stroke and movement are perfectly balanced, and someone to tell me when to come out for air.

When you open a book, you can tell after a few pages if it’s a good book, if it catches your interest, if you are going to fall in love with it.

After two swimming sessions I knew that WEST was right for me. I knew that Ori was going to make me fall in love, or, more accurately, fall back in love with the water. Swimming helps me release the tension that comes from long hours of sitting at the computer, it helps me stay free of back and neck pains. Swimming WEST also helps me to clear my mind, to concentrate and wash away the noise of everyday life, to achieve balance, so that my books will bring people the pleasure they are intended to.

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