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She was right

March 11, 2011
by Erin B

Last week at my first training day in the pool, I talked to a nice lady who said that swimming got easier fairly quickly.

She was right.

Let’s be honest here, I am NOT instantly a GOOD swimmer.  I am still just barely a non-drowner.  But today I am a noticeably better (to me) at not drowning.  Although, I’m not sure the lifeguard would notice the difference.   My first time in the pool I could not swim from one end to the other without stopping.  I could flail my way across the pool and cough and sputter to the other side, but it was only swimming in the most vague sense of the word.

The difference it that today I had an easier time managing my breathing an was able to actually give some thought to my stroke.  The nose plugs helped a little but not as much as I had hoped.  I am used to exhaling through my nose as I swim and the first pull when I tried that I was so shocked that it didn’t work that I lost track of what I was doing and gulped water and crashed.   Fortunately, I was in the shallow end and just stood up coughing and sputtering and spraying water all over the place.

Yeah.  I’m THAT kind of graceful.

On the up side, the part that IS better is that I can get all the way across the pool to the other side with our putting my feet down.  The first day I couldn’t.  AND when I get there I just need a minute to get my self sorted out into the next lane for the return trip.  Monday, I had to stop at the far end to pant.  Now I can make it to the far end and back (one lap) before I have to stop and pant.  I am still the worst swimmer in the pool by a long shot, but I am better than I was.

I still wonder what the heck I’m doing in there.

I’m still too stubborn to give up.

I know swimming is going to be my weakness on race day.  I know I’m not going to place in the top 97%, my goal is just to finish.  What scares me is that if I can’t swim the distance, I can’t just stop for a breather.

The worst part is I already have swimming baggage from lessions as a kid.  For those of you familiar with the Red Cross swim program of the early 1980’s, I made it to level Red and worked my butt off to pass so I wouldn’t be in the same class as my little sister.  I did pass the first try, but the instructor said I may have passed but I “wasn’t ready” to advance to the next level.  I’ve never been sure what that meant to her.  Occationally, I wonder if there was a height requirement or something since I was the shortest in my class.  What it meant to me was that when I tried to talk my mom into letting me move on to the next class, I was repeatedly told I wasn’t good enough yet.  How do you argue with that when you are 10?  All my (taller) friends were at least at the next level or even two or three ahead of me.  I felt like I would never catch up, so I just quit trying.  I took level Red two more times until my little sister passed and was allowed to move up, but by then I was two to four years older than anyone else in the class and really didn’t want to be there.

I know that I will say small thoughtless things to my girls that will be their baggage for life.  I’m not sure you can avoid that no matter how carefully you parent.  I just hope that when they try to talk to me about it, I can actually listen to what they are saying.  Part of what motivates me now is that absolute hatred and despair that all forms of gym class caused me a child.  I don’t want to be the victim of bad physical education anymore.  I don’t want the label of “small weak kid” to be stuck in my head anymore.  I want to be able to do these things to be able to support my girls if they want to do them.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sis permalink
    March 13, 2011 4:22 pm

    AMEN sister! As someone who is tough and sturdy, but NOT athletic, I also carry the scars of being the one who got pushed aside in volleyball by a taller girl, one of the last ones picked for the baseball team because my short legs didn't run fast (but I could hit! somehow that always got overlooked…), and the one who, in general, wasn't assertive enough for team sports. That's why I'm loving running. It's just me, my feet, and the road.

    Keep working! I'm eager to see how well you do, because I know you're going to be awesome!

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