As promised, here is my experience with swimming. It is actually from my personal archives, having been written almost ten years ago.
Yesterday I had my seventh and final swimming lesson. I swam the length of the lap pool and did a surface dive – sort of- into the regular pool. This may not seem much of an accomplishment, but I was thrilled to achieve a goal I had set for myself for my 65th birthday.
I guess I must have been able to swim once: it was a requirement for Tufts graduation. But I never felt comfortable about it. Even more than wanting to swim, I wanted to be able to dive into a pool: it always looked so graceful, so effortless.
Before my first lesson, I tried being more adventurous when I was in the pool with my grandchildren. I mean, I put my head in the water. I just didn’t like getting my face wet: I’m not someone who puts her head back in the shower to let the water cascade down her face. I didn’t like getting water in my ears either.
Growing up I spent most of my water time in the ocean. I find it ironic that I loved the waves and the challenge of not drowning as I was tossed ashore, sand pounding up my suit. Surely this was worse than putting my face in the water in a pool!
So what was my swimming history? How did I end up a non-swimmer?
The summer I was 9 I went to stay with my Aunt Florine for a month. She lived on a lake and had signed me up for swimming lessons. The night before the first lesson, we were walking along the lake shore when a HUGE water rat ran in front of us, directly into the water where my lessons were scheduled. No way. I would not go for the lesson, and I didn’t take much pleasure in the lake , even wading, after that.
Fast forward four years to swimming lessons at camp. I guess I did all right with the basics although I have no memory of that. What I do recall is that in order to pass the intermediate swim test, you had to jump (not even dive) off the high diving board. I stood on the diving board through swim time of one, two, three days, unable to go off the board, and I still remember the fear I felt standing there.
And as for swimming in college. Picture going out with wet hair in New England winter. No hair dryers in that gym! Nothing pleasant about those swims for me.
Upon hearing I was taking swimming lessons, amusement has ranged from mild (friends) to great (my kids), but I felt proud when l dove (sort of) into that pool and swam the length of it. I may never impress anyone with my style or stamina, but I got to check off one item on my list of “Things to Do Before my 65th Birthday.”
Footnote: Several years ago when I was in Turkey, the only way you could swim was to jump off the gulet. (Turkish yacht.) We were anchored off the Sapphire Coast, and I was determined I was getting into that Mediterranean water. I told everyone who would listen how I had failed to get my Intermediate Swimmer card because of fear. But this time I JUMPED. I yelled to my niece, Pam, and several others who were cheering and clapping ,“Notify the Red Cross. I want that card retroactively!”
P.S. I still don’t like to swim.
©Dorothy C. Judd
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