I’m mortified to even admit it. How did I get this way? I’m not sure. I think I have always had a fear of the water. As a kid, I wanted to be at the pool parties with my friends, but I was too terrified of being in the water so I would either not go or I would wear regular clothes and make an excuse. I think I had swim lessons, but I don’t ever remember getting past the “blowing bubbles in the shallow end” stage.If I got caught up in a body of water that was deeper than me, I can assure you, I could not save myself – that’s how bad I can’t swim. I have full-on panic attacks in the water when I can’t touch the bottom.
But 2016 is my year of #doing epic shit; and epic shit must include facing 43 year old fears. Epic shit includes being a great mom that is a role model for a seven year old little girl that can’t swim, has complete panic attacks in a body of water deeper than waist high and can’t get water in her face when she gets her hair washed. I want so much to teach her that it is ok to be afraid, but that strong girls learn to face fears instead of running away.
So here I am, holding on for dear life in a pool that is deeper than I am tall. So many fierce women in my life have told me they couldn’t swim before they decided that they would learn and go tackle IronMan competitions. I suspect that their “can’t swim” definition isn’t quite like mine, but nonetheless, I have been talked in to trying a triathlon.
Observation #1: Holy smokes, swimming lessons are tough to find for adults! Most of what I find when I search in the great googly for swim lessons is for little kids. I can neither make a 2pm swim lesson on Thursdays nor do I want to be shown up by a bunch of four year olds. Those kids are mean! The little bullies would totally make fun of the “big kid that is holding on for dear life and crying in the corner” (aka, me, LOL). So, off I go to googly “swim lessons for triathletes.” Hmmm, they seem a bit more advanced for what I’m looking for. I’m still holding on to the edge, remember? By luck, I saw that DFW Tri Club puts on a three-class beginner program that is designed for real beginners. A quick email to the coach assured me that it was ok that I really couldn’t swim. So I signed up.Observation #2: How did I amass so much stuff just to swim??? In a short time, I have been told I needed a snorkel (so I bought one), a pair of goggles (yep, got ‘em), a kickboard (can I use this thing in the race???), a pair of flipper things (ok, these are really cool), a weird figure-eight buoy thing for keeping my butt up (really? I’d prefer my head up, but ok), and a nose clip (which I found was perfect with that blasted snorkel).
Observation #3: Despite all this STUFF, I’m apparently going to have to get up and down that pool in the race without any of it. This is not good. I tried the little flipper things, and they are awesome! And the kickboard is better than little arm wings so I’d really like to keep it. The snorkel? Keep it. I hate this thing. It’s like breathing through a straw, which has been the cause of many of my panic attacks because it’s like having a bad asthma attack.
So, twenty-five yards at a time, I hang on to the wall and stare at the end, willing myself to make it all the way. With my trusty little flipper-things, I can just about make it all the way down in my own weird little “cat in the deep-end” way. It’s not pretty. I haven’t been able to master the “sing to the fishies, listen to the fishies” method of breathing while moving. For goodness sakes, there are four things going on at once and I’m clearly not able to remember to do them all at the same time! When I move my arms, I forget to kick. When I kick, I forget to breathe, and when I breathe, I forget to pull my head out of the water. I’m a complete mess.
So, I’m looking for any tips and tricks you may have on how to tackle that which might kill me. If you overcame a complete fear of the water to learn to swim, I’m all ears, because “listening to the fishies” is what I’m all about these days.