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Swimming is… Fun?

Is swimming fun?  Yes… No! Maybe? I’m clearly torn. And my legs are worn out. Such is the life of an adult learning to swim, I guess.

So I signed up for a swim class and I’m 30 years old. And I’m guessing I’m the youngest one in the class which is a huge shock to me for some reason (although there is one guy who appears to be one of those nationalities that just looks young forever so I have no idea how old he actually is. He could be 20, he could be 40.) Otherwise, there’s a grandpa (not sure if he actually has grandchildren but you get the mental picture), a grandma (see grandpa), and 3 others who I’d guess are in their 40s or 50s. And me. Funny enough, for my first class I arrived right on time, and when I looked around helplessly and one of the other instructors told me to stand with the rest of my classmates, I received a few surprised looks. I guess they weren’t expecting someone as young as me to be in their class, go figure. The benefit of being in a class with a bunch of older people though, as I’ve experienced many times before, is that they are incredibly friendly. Especially the grandparent-types. I wish my generation was half as friendly… but I digress. Almost immediately George, Yvette, and Purdeep (names have been changed to protect the innocent) introduced themselves to me, and I learned the rest of the names shortly thereafter.

None of them had any problem remembering my name because, and I’ve experienced this many times in my life as well, my instructor has the same name. And she also spells it with an H. Oy. AND, as she enthusiastically told me almost as soon as I introduced myself, she has the same bathing suit as me! Joy of joys. Nothing against folks who also have the incredible fortune of being named Sarah with an H (as it should be spelled, naturally), but I like my name and sometimes I don’t feel like sharing. Like, for example, in situations where I’d prefer to rename nameless as I flap and flail pathetically in water just above my waist. I’ve had to share my name my entire life, as I’m sure some other popularly-named folks can appreciate. But here, in my adult basic swim class, anonymity was to be my ally! I can be so naïve sometimes – of course in a class of 7 and one instructor I should have expected to see another Sarah. If only I had been named Apple or Blue Ivy. I blame my mother… but I digress.

I was pleased to recall, in that first hour of “blowing my nose” underwater and attempting to float without my butt sinking, that playing in water is fun. In all honesty my fun may have been slightly augmented by the fact that I was a tad advanced compared to my fellow learners, some of which were too scared to float and needed a lot of help from Instructor Sarah. I’m certainly in no position to criticize a fear of water, but their need for a little extra attention allowed me some time to myself to remember an easy comfort with floating and gliding that I honestly haven’t felt in a long time. There’s something very childlike in our association with water play that I could see even in Grandpa George’s face as he splashed around and “floated” with his toes skimming the bottom of the pool. Even though the majority of us are in the class due to a fear of water, we all took to playing in it as quickly as riding a bike; that sense of community, I think, is the ultimate source of our enjoyment.

I’ve also realized, after only a few classes so far, that part of my fear of swimming resides in my inability to breathe out through my nose. I’ve always just breathed out my mouth and used my fingers to plug my nose whenever I go underwater (I never need to use that hand for anything else since I’m never actually swimming, after all). But needing to glide, face-down with my arms stretched straight above my head, meant my nose was free to take in as much water as possible, and the ensuing panicked spluttering drew the attention of all the adults there watching their children. I was embarrassed, but I quickly turned and focused on the advice from Instructor Sarah and tried again. I’m sure I looked pretty funny afterwards as I screwed up my nose to try and plug it without using my fingers, but frankly I was more concerned about the pain that comes from inhaling pool water.

As Instructor Sarah says, I need to be able to breathe out through my nose as well as my mouth, so that’s what I’ve been trying to focus on so far in each class. It’s been slow going and literally quite painful at times, and combined with concentrating on kicking from my waist and lifting my arms straight out of the water, it’s a lot to remember to do all at once. Still, I’m ridiculously proud of a growing confidence I can feel in my water skills, and I can’t believe that I’m actually excited to go to class. I even had this silly thought after last class that I could someday be like my father-in-law who swims laps almost every morning. Crazy, right?

Yes… No! Maybe?


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