“3 weeks ago you couldn’t put your head in the water. And now you just swam 3 metres!”
The happy exclamation of G. The guy whom, when I said I’ve always wanted to learn how to swim, found adult swim lessons and signed us up.
(this may have an element of ‘pay it forward’ on his part, as his friend T did the similar for him when he said “I’ve always wanted a tattoo” and booked him in for one. I shall have to do likewise for someone else someday 🙂
It wasn’t what I expected from the start. The first thing that caught me was just How Nervous I was looking in to that clear blue pool.
There were to be four in the learners class. One girl who didn’t show up, an older english guy W (in his 60s), G (as moral support) and myself.
The instructor asked our reasons; W had been out swam by a “young feller” and wanted to learn to breathe right so he could show what he was made of. I had always wanted to learn. And G, when he admitted he could swim and was just support, got chased out of our lesson and into the improvers lesson at the far end. Just two of us so. And bugger it, W could swim!
I couldn’t swim. I’d almost drowned before. Many many years ago I was staying the summer with friends of the family. All the kids in the town went to the river. It’s what you did. I couldn’t swim but I was trying. Some smarty pants kid thought it would be fun to start splashing me (the only non swimmer). Then ALL the river kids joined in. The wall of water was unending. I turned and prayed I was facing the river bank. Walking and suffocating. It seemed to go on forever and the kids – having me on the run – splashed harder. By the time I climbed out I could barely breathe. I don’t remember much after that. Don’t remember how I got back to the house. But I never went within splash distance of the river for the rest of the summer.
That was a long time ago. It feels good to face things as an adult and stare them down.
Week 1: Up and down a half length we go. With various types of float. Bend, stretch, breathe, SPLUTTER, bend, stretch, breathe, SPLUTTER.
My throat Burned. My nose burned. I was frustrated and tired. But I was determined to get there.
(I couldn’t get it. It burned so badly. I was confused. Something wasn’t right. Luckily a co-worker used to teach swimming. Happy days! I was breathing out through my mouth and the water was rushing up my nose. Solution? Take a big mouth breath. Clamp the mouth shut. Breathe out the nose – Presto! Less burning. This sounds all very obvious I’m sure. But it’s the simple things that trip you up)
Standing in the changing booth. After swim class. I’ve a moment to myself so I take it. Deep breathes. Nearly cried.
Why? I went without a float. For the first time. No armbands. No hand float. Just me. I was so surprised. Mostly that I didn’t sink! I don’t know if you could call it swimming per say.. But .. Yay!
Practice the front crawl (? – The one where you move your arms like a windmill). I’m getting so frustrated. Coughing and spluttering. Every time I hit the water I panic and jump up again. The instructor isn’t really helping “what at you standing up for? That was barely one stroke. I want four in a row!!” she repeats this over and over. Drill sergeant style. I’m tired. Bashing my fists against the water in frustration. And I’m getting angrier and angrier with the drill instruction.
I look into the water. I can see myself standing on a cliff…lean forward and fall… Throwing myself into water and pummel forward in a FURIOUS flurry of arms and legs, Roaring forward in my mind and pushing about 2 meters up the pool. It was a Triumph of anger! But was met with a hug of glee. It was great to have someone there to share that moment -thank you G
In the last few weeks doing the lessons I’ve learnt a few things. 1. Goggles are awesome. They take away some of the panic as you can keep your eyes open when you’re under the water. It’s an odd sensation. But quite cool. 2. There are so many out there who have learnt to swim as adults and all of them are supportive and encouraging. 3. Swimming is easy. Breathing is hard. Also, swimming is complicated (it’s like all those different things you try to do learning a bike. Get the balance. Move your feet. Keep your arms steady. Hard until its easy all of a sudden. I’ve just got the stablisers off but I’m still not coordinated). 4. Goggles. 5. You need a good teacher. Someone who’s teaching speed matches your learning speed. I’m getting a different teacher. 6. By the way. Goggles.