French Linen

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Giving the Swimming Thing A Try

I decided I would at least get myself in the water once before my lesson. So, I approach the pool and take stock of the situation. I read a sign and translate that I'll have to be able to swim the length of the pool 9 times for a quarter mile or 18 times for a half mile. That doesn't sound so bad. And everyone in the pool calmly gliding in the lap lanes is older than me -- some by a lot as my gym caters to the senior crowd. I can do this, I tell myself. I try to remember my swimming lessons from 35 years ago.

And here's what I remember - I was always COLD. As a skinny kid, I had little body fat to keep me warm. I recall both the lessons at the community pool and at my summer camps where I would listen to the instructor (or perhaps not listen) as I continously shivered. Perhaps that is why every year when I would return for another year's lesson, I would take the test, and despite having passed last year's test to advance to the next level, I was put back at the previous year's level. Very disappointing.

At camp this meant that I could never swim beyond the boring area and join the other kids jumping off the rocks into the deep part of the creek. When we went on a hike to a waterfall, I wasn't allowed to slide down the waterfall into the deep area. I was forever a "red" (beginner) or "blue" (intermediate) cap but rarely made it to the advanced levels.

And then, there was a day that is forever etched in my memory. It was the day of my final lesson and test at the community pool. My parents, sister and I were packed in our '70's station wagon pulling out of our driveway when we saw something dead along the road. I wondered why my Dad stopped the car to go investigate the latest road kill. He returned to sadly tell us our dog Tippy was the victim. I cried all the way to pool and all the way through the test. I think the instructor passed me out of pity.

So, my swimming memories aren't exactly positive. As an adult, I don't dislike the water - I can tread water and swim a decent side stroke. It's just not a sport I took to and ever mastered. And, it's apparent that I can't even master putting on my newly purchased goggles as I jump in and they leak. I try and make some adjustments and then decide to just get going. I get halfway down the pool trying to remember a proper crawl stroke but I'm inhaling water and the chlorine is burning my eyes.

Well, the whirlpool in the corner is looking very inviting at this point.

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