Friday, August 14, 2009

Oh YES, I CAN Swim

Leah over at Creative EveryDay has a great post on learning to swim and asking how we ...can learn apply the experience to our grownup selves.

I learned to swim..
I was 18 and one week from eloping to marry.
I wanted to swim, but was terrified .. to a point of hyperventilation even talking about it. We are blessed
in South Louisiana with lost of free waterways. Most people here can swim when they are toddlers .
My Father grew up on a farm located about 1/2 a wooded mile from the most gorgeous sandy beaches on the banks of a fast moving stump studded dangerous river.
A river that could rise well above flood stage and wreak havoc with the surrounding area.
It was where we went for family picnics and I loved to play in the sand and hang my feet in the water and grip my Fathers back when he would take me out in the deeper water.
When I was Seven he decided I needed to learn how to swim. after all , he and his 7 siblings were all thrown into the river at 6 and told swim or sink.
We attempted the "duck your head under the water" a few times and I screamed and ran out of the water and sobbed I was scared.
This infuriated my Father,
so he pulled me back out kicking and screaming and told me to STOP blubbering, at which I started screaming
"I don't want to swim"..
he threw me out into the middle of the river and didn't rescue me until i came up for breath the second time..
to my Mothers horror.
Not only did I not learn to swim that day, i didn't get back in anything deeper than knee deep pool, pond or tub ';
I had a friend who was a lifeguard and he said he could teach me.., I joined is 5 year old class in a public pool that was divided with a chain link fence to section of the
kiddie side from the swimming side,.
I was six feet tall in a 4 foot pool,,.. I had to do the" head under the water " exercises on my knees.. I was too apprehensive to be embarrassed. I learned to side stroke, backstroke, butterfly stroke and float like a balloon. I never made the "real " dive off the highdive that was required to get a Swimmers Certificate: but I at least jumped off of it.
I have been swimming until a couple of years ago when I developed anxiety problems ( long story, ..caused by a damn MRI).. but learning to swim after the terrifying experience in the river taught me that.. I will never again let someone scare me into forgoing something that I really want to do
I may not conquer this current problem, and it's okay..because


La Dolce Vita said...

Just found your blog while out surfing and although I don't know you I am sending you lots of xxxx's and I too was thrown into water, so I can relate to this, I guess I just dogpaddled my way and have no fear of water but I don't love swimming either. strange the lack of compassion toward children at least when I was a child. blessings to you! caterina

Kavindra said...


I love your being 6 feet tall in a 4 ft deep pool and doing it anyway. Double courage there.

I can't tell you how many people I have heard with a similar story about being thrown in the water. I had a friend who was slightly nervous even walking over bridges because of that. It's wonderful that you took the matter into your own hands and made powerful meaning of the experience.