I have no idea where my fear of bodies of water came from. Ok I do have an idea – but what I realize is my fear of swimming and drowning came from someone else telling me over an over again that I could not swim, that I need to stay away from water. So, in college I took my first swimming class. We were taught how to tread water, how to kick, how to breathe – none of the lessons stuck with me.
Nearly five years later, I’ve decided I need to learn to swim. I was stalling, trying to get people that I know to come and learn – but there was still a financial investment that had to take place, along side a time commitment.
I signed up on my own and we are two weeks into the lessons. There are now familiar faces and everyone is learning at their own pace. First we learned to get comfortable with putting our face in the water. Then we learned to bob our heads into the water. Next we learned to breathe in counts of three out our mouth, and our nose. Once we nailed that we learned to kick (if you kick air you go nowhere- words of the instructor, Dan). Most recently we learned to float front facing (also known as dead mans float). Now we are worked no on back floating.
I still panick a little bit. I’ll be visiting the pool this weekend to get acquainted with back floating. Dan shared his story of how when he was eight years old, someone held his head under water and he woke up on the stretcher. He didn’t step foot back into the water until he was 21. Swimming and playing with water looks like so much fun and then things can change very quickly.
My mom grew up in Haiti, and she knows how to swim. Take her to the beach and she looks like a fish – but since we are in a city, and there isn’t a nearby lake pool or beach, my mom response was always, ” stay away from the water – you don’t know how to swim”. Not very encouraging. After going to a retreat and watching a boy jump into the water wanting to play but nearly drowned, after visiting another country and having someone scream from nearly drowning, after going on water parks and seeing yet another person nearly drown – I got the message. I need to learn to swim.
What really pushed me to sign up, I was talking to a coworker and he shared a story about a couple he knew that went away on vacation for their honey moon. As they are walking along side the beach the sand drops off and goes into the deep end. The person drowned. That will not be me. Swimming is a life skill and depending on where you grow up you may never see a pool.
The cool thing about my class is that it’s an adult learning class. And there are people of all ages. It’s been so much fun and I am meeting new people along the way. Step out and take a leap to face your fear.