It’s safe to say ever since then my relationship with water has been pretty meh. Growing up, instead of doing the backstroke or doggy paddle in the deep end of the pool, I piggy-backed off my dad and big bro. At the water park I was too scared to go on any of the ginormous slides because I was worried I would drown once I reached the bottom. The beach was by far the scariest. I could be carried out with the current into the middle of nowhere. The ocean looked so boundless I could just disappear without anyone noticing. I made sandcastles instead.
During summer camp one year I had swimming lessons every single day and never made it passed “guppy” level. I remember wearing that awful red wristband that said I could only hang out in parts of the lake that were 2-feet deep. Worst of all the lessons didn’t help one bit. While all of my friends from the “loser end of the lake” graduated into “gold fish,” I just flailed around like a maniac until I PLUNKED to the ground.
Years later, I still can’t swim. I have zero finesse in the water. I can float . . . sort of. The only thing that has changed is: I’m not afraid. Years of exhaustively trying to learn something I just can’t figure out how to do made me less scared. I’d plunk my head in and out of the water just to get used to it. I’d hold my breath to see how long I could. I’d tell myself, “It’s just water–it’s not trying to kill you.” Being less fearful made me realize the current isn’t going to carry me off if I’m just standing neck deep in the water. Water parks are safe enough for people who can’t swim to go on the rides. I can actually have fun–in the water! I don’t have to miss out!
Nothing bad is going to happen as long as I know my limitations. Don’t go too far out. Don’t go where it’s too deep. Don’t be afraid.
Can you swim? How old were you when you learned? Let us know in the comments.