Sink or Swim

Regardless of age, taking on something new in life begins with the desire to do so. Then, get up off your heinie and go do it!

 Anybody can swim. Right?

 I’ve always liked mucking about in water and I can sort of swim. ‘Sort of’ meaning I never mastered the art of breathing. Breathing: kind of an important function. I can hold my breath for an eternity, but eventually I have to crack the surface to grab some air.

I wanted to change this. I wanted to learn how to swim-breathe properly.

I wondered if gill implants were an option or one of those porpoise blowhole things.  I needed help. Professional help.

 I turned to family and friends, to strangers on the street and to them I wailed, “Who can teach me to swim?”

“I could teach you,” said Tom, gym buddy-friend- Aquatic Club Head Coach.

 Secretly, I wondered if this guy was any good.

 I was feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious  that first lesson parading out onto the pool deck. Questions splashed through my mind. Was I wearing the right kind of designer swimsuit? How was my hair? Was my stomach flat enough? (Let’s just forget about firm enough.) Serious concerns. And I hoped my first lesson wasn’t going to see me wearing a pair of pink water wings and blowing bubbles in the shallow end with a cluster of five-year old kids.

 Tom began with, “Let’s just do some simple floating.”

 Float? Simple? Who could possibly flunk floating? My Scottish Mum could float. But all women seem to have the body assemblage that encourages floating. The Scottish guys I know (I include myself), our body shape does not compliment the act of floating . . . or swimming. Where’s our incentive to accomplish either? Even in July the water temperatures surrounding Scotland range from chilly to frosty. And if you are stupid enough to take the frigid plunge, the whole time you are frolicking you have to be aware that at any second the jaws of Nessie might close upon you. But what we Scottish men can do well, is sink.

I sink very, very well. Tom thinks it’s just a natural gift. In a race to the bottom I would have beaten the Titanic.

 Swimming in a straight line is proving to be my major challenge. I know the idea is swim from here to there and come back. Pretty simple. I start from here and then veer off into some sort of scenic route, often ripping my knuckles open against the metal bulkhead or entangling myself in the buoy lines. Lifeguards have had to cut me free twice. Tom thinks it’s a blind thing. I think I need a swimsuit with GPS.

 I don’t see swimming the English Channel anytime soon, but with Tom’s guidance, I’ll doggedly keep kicking, improving my swim stroke and most importantly, I’ll keep breathing.

I’ll just keep on breathing.

Comments are closed.