Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Write Swim Play

Days of Yore at the Pool
Molly, Ben, Emily, 1991
(& Moms -- Kitti & Katy)

Swimming Buddies
Kitti, Lynn, Nancy, 1992

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, if there's one thing I love now, it's swimming laps during the summer. However, if there was one thing I hated as a kid, it was swimming lessons.

At age 5, I steadfastly refused to participate in any way, shape, or form. For example, when the instructor dropped some magnets into the water, in hopes that we little ones would gleefully "dive" for them, I was not about to do any such thing. For a magnet? Was she kidding? Then she upped the ante and tossed in a handful of dimes, but even that was not enough to entice me. Looking back, I can see that the pool in question was perhaps 12 inches deep. Thus an enterprising child could no doubt retrieve a few coins simply by wading out to the prize and reaching in the water, no need for total immersion. But even wading was too much for me. I no more wanted to put my feet in the water than I wanted to put my head under the surface. At their wits' end, I guess, my parents gave up on me, led me screaming and crying away, and never made me go back. Hmmmm . . . perhaps not the ideal parenting decision on their part; but, hey, my childhood is over, right?

It took me only a year or so after my failed lessons to enjoy getting in the water with my siblings and friends. Nor did my limited skill set prevent me from having fun. It just meant that my range of activities was limited by my refusal to put my head under water; and if I couldn't feel the sandy beach or river bed or bottom of the pool under my feet -- panic attack!

Finally, at age 32, at the very same pool where I now swim laps during the summer, I enrolled in a series of lessons for the adult beginner. No one but me signed up for this class, so I was the lucky recipient of two weeks of one - on - one instruction, for an hour per day, with a very patient woman who knew how to diminish all my fears and basically convince me that I already knew how to swim if only I would just do it.

The following summer, upon the completion of my Ph.D., one of my Swimming Buddies congratulated me on what she referred to as the major accomplishment of my 30s. She was surprised when I told her that, no, it wasn't finishing graduate school that defined my 30s to me, it was learning to swim! The doctorate had been the goal of my 20s; and although I was thirty-something by the time I finished, I still counted it as the major accomplishment of my 20s. Even when it took a bit more time than I had originally foreseen, I was never in doubt that I would finish.

On the other hand, if someone had told me at the beginning of June 1989 that, by mid- August, I would be able to swim without fear across the deep end, I would not have believed it! Yet, it happened! Now that was a major accomplishment!

Major accomplishment of my 40s: resuming piano lessons in a valiant struggle to make up for my misspent youth . . .

. . . and of my 50s: the discipline of writing regularly every day and at long last organizing all the material that I have been storing up in my head and saving in dozens of notebooks since I was 16 years old. Took me long enough!

I guess that's how life is sometimes. We wait and wait, and then we act.

Additional Swimming Pool Blog Posts

August 11, 2012: "Swimming Pool, Swimming Pool"

August 9, 2012: Feed Your Brain

August 28, 2011: "Back to School"

August 18, 2010: "Write Swim Play"

June 22, 2010: "Summer Rerun"

September 15, 2009: "Buoyant"

August 13, 2009: "Moisturizer? Yes, Please!"

July 28, 2009: "Summer Afternoon, Summer Afternoon"


  1. Photo Permissions From My Pool Friends:

    1. Darling Kitti: I would be proud to be on your blot - er, blog - just don't use my Right Name.

    2. We'd all be flattered to be included!

    3. Now, about that hot tub scene...what on earth were we drinking?

    P.S. My son Sam asked me the same question about the drinks -- haha!

  2. I know it sounds like an exaggeration, but when my spirits are the very very lowest, if I just jump in the pool, I feel like living again, reborn, like the whole earth is just unbelievably, unfathomably good. It really is a spiritual experience.
    (see gmail 8 / 3 / 10)