Getting My Sea Legs Back

17 Jun
It's still difficult, but I've got to 'just keep swimming.'

It’s still difficult, but I’ve got to ‘just keep swimming.’ Courtesy of Tumblr

I never really learned how to swim. Like, I never had real swimming lessons. During summer camp as a kid, we would go “swimming” every day. Really, it was just a bunch of kids splashing around in the pool. Some of our counselors would try to help us learn, but for the most part they were just teens flirting with one another while a bunch of kids created pool geysers with their cannonballs.

So, I’d get in the water and try to float, and not drown. I’d try to kick while floating, and not drown. I’d sit on the kickboard in the water and practice treading, and not drown. Until one day I jumped in the water not realizing what depth I was jumping into. And I nearly drowned.

Obviously I didn’t, but some instinct kicked in that day and I was able to keep kicking myself to the top, splashing like a maniac, but still keeping myself afloat. That was the day I tried to swim…actually swim.

And it worked out. Slow and steady wins the race and I was able to bob like a bouey without taking in any water. I learned how to swim under water. I learned how to float on my back and eventually swim backward (my favorite way to go). And then I learned to frog stroke followed by freestyle. Well into my 20s, I was swimming every summer. I strengthened those muscles. And I loved the water.

Flash forward almost 15 years and I’ve lost me sea legs. I’m equating it to riding a bike. Because if you haven’t ridden a bike in some years, you’re more than likely gonna fall over the first few tries.

That’s essentially what has happened to me as I’ve tried to reacclimate myself to the pool. It all began about a month ago when a friend from work invited me to go swimming at the local pool. I’d wanted to try it for a while, so it was nice to get the motivation.

Nervous isn’t a strong enough word to describe my feeling walking toward the pool. It’s an Olympic-size pool with several lanes. You have to share the lanes with others, meaning half a dozen people at any time could be trying to pass you up. It’s a bit daunting to try something you haven’t tried in years in front of a few dozen people with the thought you could drown.*

But fear won’t stop me from getting in a good workout, so into the water I went…with my kickboard. For the past five weeks, I have made great use of that 18-inch piece of foam. I’m strengthening my hips and thighs (great for running) and burning calories in the process. Get like me!

Eventually I’ll move on to arm strokes. I tried it a couple weeks ago, to very little success. You don’t realize how much energy you exert using all of your limbs to propel yourself through a body of water until you get a few feet and get out of breath. But I’m learning, and that’s the point.

I will own the pool one day. Until then, hand me my kickboard.

* I know I won’t drown, for two reasons: a) there are three lifeguards at the pool and b) it’s only four feet deep. But I have a real fear of not being able to breathe, so drowning is really not how I want to go.

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One Response to “Getting My Sea Legs Back”

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  1. Swimming Safely | I'm Skinny, Now What? - June 24, 2015

    […] forward to present day and me still trying to get my sea legs back. I’ve thought a lot about this in the past week as I’ve watched a world grapple with […]

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