Swimming Upstream

I spent several afternoons/evenings a week at the pool in Riverview Park this summer.  It is well kept and far enough off the beaten path to keep crowds to a minimum.  We got to know the life guards and some of the other swimmers. 

But I really can't swim.  I mean I can stay afloat and propel myself around the pool using my arms and legs.  I'm also a heck of water treader.  Did you know that treading water REALLY burns calories and works your core muscles? It was a perfect mix for our approach to swimming.  Our main goal was to be cool (temperature) so loitering about the deep end while treading water and doing some occasional lazy laps was just our speed.  I harbor no illusions that there was anything “cool” about two middle aged lesbians splashing about, especially me in my swimming suit with a skirt.  I mean what's more hip than the swim skirt? 

Plus, I was getting good cardio time in with all that water treading.  Which got me thinking about the end of summer.  Our season pool passes were accepted at the Oliver Bath House throughout the fall, winter and spring, but our languorous approach to swimming probably wouldn't translate to an indoor pool, no matter how historic. 

So, I decided to literally take the plunge and sign up for adult swim lessons. 

They began this morning.  I woke up cranky and a little anxious about the class, sure I would be miserable in the class.  And I was late.  Grrrrr.

Our instructor, Mike, asked me to float. Apparently, I was successful and we moved on to basics like kicking which I aced.  Nice.  I also can approximate a freestyle stroke except I veer to the left (I am not making this up).  I don't think Mike understood why his earnest instructions as to how to straighten myself out caused hysterical giggles.  I hope he chalked it up to nerves. 

Seriously, it was a very laid back way to learn that I actually know a bit more than I believed.  Learning how to breathe properly is my challenge, but that's week 3. 

The class was diverse. A few folks could swim, but wanted “stroke development” (again, not making this up). A few were “waders” who wanted to learn to swim. And a few were bluntly terrified and forcing themselves to confront their fears.

It takes a lot of guts to confront your fear of water in the 3 foot lane of the bathhouse on the Southside. I was talking with one woman who was very open about her terror that she was going to sink and die.  I don't have that sort of fear of water, but I have felt that level of terror so I was openly appreciative of her being there.  She was contemplating getting out of the pool, but decided to talk with me instead.  Then she did one last lap on the kickboard. 

So I decided I had to get back into the 5 foot lane and take another stab at “straightening” myself out. 

The real test will be if I can get myself back into the pool this week to practice.  Not only do I need the practice, but it is part of my goal of mixing up the exercise routine with a little Wii, a little walking and a little swimming.  So its as much about showing up to practice as mastery of the skill. 

And being grateful that I have someone in my lane when I face my fears (yes, Ledcat). 


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  • Once you can get straight, then you can begin to think about the proper flip flop — err — flip turn.
    You are right on when you say that the first part of the success for winning is “showing up.” I made a t-shirt with that last year.
    Tip: I like pool toys. Try to find a pair of fins. Also, try a Pull Bouy — pool boy (another joke).

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