As a kid, I took swimming lessons for several years at the local YMCA. But as an adult, when I swim, it still looks as if I am drowning. My hands are moving, while my body is trying to invent an undiscovered swimming stroke.
A few years go, my husband thought it would be great exercise to swim at the local recreation center. My apprehension no wasn’t so much about swimming, but about putting on the bathing suit. I got over my superficial fear and ventured, with husband, to go for a swim in the lap pool. The lifeguard at the pool, after witnessing my swimming greatness, told my husband, “Your girlfriend is getting better at swimming. She doesn’t splash her hands and feet as much.” I still laugh when I think about that comment.
The lifeguard was right, I slap my hands at the water, aiming for something that I don’t see. While in the water, especially as I near the deep end, half of me is petrified and the other is uncoordinated. Even after years of experimenting with swimming, on and off, I’ve never quite mastered the grace that swimming requires.
I haven’t really thought about it much, until my daughter started taking swimming lessons. In my mind, I expected my daughter to really excel at swimming. She has the build of my husband, long legs, arms that are limber, and a temperament that is closer to my husband’s personality than mine. She is adventurous and isn’t afraid to discover new terrain. I thought she would be eager to jump into the pool and graduate to the next level without much consternation.
It hasn’t really happened that way. My daughter is usually worried about her swim lesson the night before it is actually scheduled. On the way to the swim lesson, she says she isn’t going to do bubbles under the water, while I try to console her as the fearful look on her face appears. Once I manage to convince her to get into the pool, she is already telling the teacher, that she isn’t going to go underwater or float on her back. As the words come out of her mouth, she is crying, her eyes a mixture of tears and chlorine. I realize she detests swimming, but I encourage her to press on.
I think about my own inability to swim. Seventy percent of the world is covered in water and if I had to swim at a second’s notice, it would be difficult. I’ve tried and I realized for some reason, it just doesn’t click.
I know that my daughter is still at an age where she can be molded and there is still time for her to get it.
And once she gets it chances are great that she will love swimming, or at least be comforted in knowing that she can swim. I can swim, but I wish I was a graceful swimmer.
I wish I can swim in the water without fear. I really need to practice and hopefully this summer I can swim…
I am not a good swimmer either – I don’t fear the water I have just never mastered getting through it. I did not learn to swim until I was eight. Which is why I want my daughter to learn now and hopefully have the skills I lack.
We all have our own skill, like swimming, that we wish we could do better (or at all), don’t we? It takes so much character to keep pursuing something we’re just not very good at. Good for you, not just for encouraging your daughter, but for keeping up the swimming yourself. (Should I insert a “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” here? Please tell me you’ve seen Finding Nemo!) =>
I grew up on an island surrounded by possibly the most beautiful beaches in the world. I loved to laze and look around but swimming? Not my favorite activity. Same goes for hang-gliding, bungee jumping or para-sailing. I prefer to be on land. Could be a security issue from childhood but I have no intention of changing when it comes to where my feet go.
I competed on a swim team for a few years and really enjoyed it. Now? I’m not to thrilled about it. I can be a graceful swimmer, I just don’t like to get my head wet. Something that obviously needs to happen if I want to swim.
Pools don’t scare me nearly as much as a lake or the ocean which also happen to be my husband’s favorite hangout in the summer. Eek. Like you, I am putting my fears aside to encourage my kids. It’s rather difficult.
Rudri, your post made me chuckle. Nothing like some good ol’ self-deprecation to make us as readers feel the need to pat our dear friend on the back and say, “I doubt you’re that bad of a swimmer.” 🙂
It is so hard to make our kids do things they fear and it takes a lot of strength to not cave in when they turn their weepy eyes toward us. I hope she warms to it and, at the very least, she’ll hopefully have gained enough skill to feel relatively safe in or near the water.
Great post as usual.
Could you or your husband go to a pool somewhere and just play in the shallows with her? No pressure – just a splash about, take a couple of floats, a ball – a snorkel even. I learned to swim at a very young age and I still remember that cold fear of being told by a teacher to do something like put my face in the water in what is totally alien territory to us humans. It’s no wonder we’re scared. I’m convinced it was the sessions when my Dad swam and played with us in the sea that gave me the confidence that I needed.
I really want Hannah to take swim lessons but Dan is convinced he can teach her himself. We’ll see. My brother almost drowned when he was 4 or 5 and he went on to become his school’s swim captain in high school. There’s definitely still hope for Nandini!
I know that fear, those tears. I am not a great swimmer, but I do love it, and never expected my daughter to be uncomfortable in the water. But she is. However, we press on. Good luck!
Apthi started her swimming lessons two weeks ago. First day she ran to the trainer eager to jump into the water. The next three days she cried, I even contemplated changing the instructor, then she was great, laughing and trying everything. But when the instructor took both his hands off, water into her nose scared her off. Last Friday, I could not see her anxiety, I cancelled the class as it was no fun for her at all. She had taken so many steps (should I say strokes) backwards, it took her three evenings in our pool, to get that fear out. Now she is better. She loves getting into the pool. I am worried how she will be when her swim club reopens next week. Hopefully over the weekend, she will get more comfortable. I feel sad, when she puts up a brave face just to please us and go through the motions.
I am sure these pains of parenthood are eternal, more so for an Indian parent. Today it is swimming, tomorrow it is school, college etc.