So, yeah: swimming.
There was a free swim clinic last month at the same pool where aquafit takes places in the cold, early morning hours. Megan and I went, thinking to improve our swimming skills. We learned as children, and swam every summer, in the chilly Atlantic and the (relatively) warm waters of Maine lakes. I figured it would be easy to get up to speed. For Megan: yes. For me: no.
I’m good at finding things I’m not good at.
Everything was going fine until we had to put our faces in the water. Suddenly, I felt like a steerage passenger on the Titanic. My body was horrified, and both of my brain cells immediately agreed, even though there was a lifeguard right there and I could have stood up and breathed at any time.
Logic is not my forte. Call me the anti-Spock.
I kept trying, even though breathing in the water through my nose and mouth gave me instant post-nasal drip without all the bother of having a cold. The more I did it, the more I hated it.
Megan, the former scuba diver, was happily splashing around like a fish and bemoaning her lack of technique. See what a contrast we are? When she was a little kid and told me, “I’ll catch up with you, you’ll see”, she failed to add “And I’ll pass right by you and leave you in the dust”. Or the pool water.
At the end of the class, they told us that we could take 6 more lessons for the reasonable price of $36. Megan immediately signed up, while I flipped through Glamour and enjoyed breathing the air.
The next day, she took Star to her first Canine Good Citizen class. One of the things they address at the class is fearfulness, which dogs express by growling and barking, and Suzys express by crying (at least inside) and/or running away in horror. The teacher said that petting dogs when they express their fearfulness is rewarding the fear and the behavior, and just encourages them to keep at it.
I realized that not going to swim class with Megan was rewarding my fear. So I signed up, too.
I’m still struggling with the breathing. My brother, who swims 45 minutes without stopping four days a week, tells me that he doesn’t put his face in the water, and if he does, it really affects his endurance. Another friend who is a good swimmer told me the same thing. So it’s not just Me.
Also it’s hard to remember all the instructions (keep your chin down, feet floppy, thumbs should hit the water first) while struggling with the panicky, oxygen-deprived feeling of the breathing. Megan says I’m doing better, but I’m not so sure. I wish I had more time to practice. But I’m glad that I’m trying to face my fears. It’s a lot easier to do with my sister at my side. Like everything else.