Monday, August 15, 2011

Number 2: Learn To Swim

Concentration; It’s why I didn’t learn to swim when I was five and my mother sent me to a very expensive day camp. Not my concentration, while that was definitely part of it, that wasn’t the reason. I mean the, um, what would you call it? A game? “Crack an egg on your head let the yoke drip down, let the yoke drip down…” Do any of you know what I am talking about? (See below for explanation if you don’t).

Anyway, instead of wanting to jump in to the frigid pool for an hour each day for swim lessons, I preferred to sit on my Tropicana Orange Juice towel, which my mother or grandmother no doubt got for free for saving all the proofs of purchase, and would play concentration along with the other non swimmers. I think of this “game” now and it’s really ridiculously pointless. But back then we thought it was the coolest thing. I went to this day camp for at least three summers in a row, everyday attending swim lessons. And everyday I refused to learn how to swim.

Summer camp was not my first time refusing swim lessons.

Four years earlier my mother took me to mommy and me swim class. Being that we lived on the beach with the Atlantic Ocean in our backyard, swim lessons must have seemed like a fabulous idea. My mother took me to the first few classes where I screamed my head off for a while before she finally gave up.

So now I am 27 years old and I can’t swim. Don’t get me wrong I can tread water for at least 20 minutes at time (I know because I’ve timed myself at the gym), longer if my life depended on it. I can easily get from place to place in the pool, but I am tired of looking like a golden retriever doggie paddling with my head above the water. It looks especially ridiculous when I swim laps at the gym next to people with swim caps and goggles who can complete 6 laps in the time it takes me to get to the end of the lane.

Lilly is 19 months old now and loves the water. I am of course going to want her to learn to swim. How can I expect her to learn if I never have? Soon she’ll be saying, “Mommy, you can’t go play in the pool without me because you can’t swim and I can!”  Plus swimming is just one of those basic life saving skill things I should just know how to do by now. Being an adult that can’t swim honestly makes me feel kind of stupid. So this is why I want to learn.

It’s funny that I have a husband who I’ve known now for over six years, who is an incredibly strong swimmer and I still haven’t learned, not that he hasn’t tried to teach me. He just assumed (and rightfully so) that since I am an adult in my twenties I would catch on much faster than say, a five year old. Unfortunately when it comes to anything involving rhythmic breathing I can’t seem to be able to do two things at once. In fact, at the gym, when I lift weights or use the machines, Andy has to constantly remind me to breath. Breathing out under water, in out of the water, turning my head, kicking my legs, moving my arms… it is just a lot to be able to do at once.

Andy and I have been going to the gym for six and half week’s straight now, nearly everyday (I’ve lost 8 pounds so far- he’s lost 35-uhhhh, but don’t get me started on that…). Last week instead of hitting up the treadmill and the machines as usual, Andy decided he would teach me to swim.... More than once that evening he referred to my swimming attempts as that of a “drunk mental patient” (the same term he used to describe my first person shooter abilities while playing Call Of Duty). I am sure I swallowed more water than a small child would while learning to swim (I burped up what tasted like chlorine at least twice that evening- gross I know). However I did begin to get the hang of it. I had trouble opening my eyes under water and then lifting my head out of the water because, for some reason, my first instinct was to then close my eyes when out of the water and this kept messing up my breathing causing me to reverse and swallow large amounts of water. So I kept my eyes closed and swam into the wall at least four times. All in all I made some progress. More than I ever had before. I think the reason for that is because this time, I was really determined.

The following night I went swimming at the gym by myself with some goggles. Being by myself suddenly made me really aware of all the other people at the pool watching me, a grown woman, struggle with trying to swim (and even worse, get overly giddy when I did something  right)- I am sure many of the other swimmers were questioning my mental abilities at this point, but I had to just forget about it and not care. The goggles really helped! I stopped worrying about opening and closing my eyes and about swimming into the wall. I made it all the way across the pool twice (so one lap, but not consecutively). My only problem was I then got so excited that I actually did it that I began smiling and forgot to breath…

I am almost there. I think a few more weeks working on it at the gym and I should have it down. I am glad I have gotten over the feeling stupid part because I can’t swim. Lots of adults can’t swim. I couldn’t possibly be the only one out there. And if I am, then soon the world will be rid of all non-swimming adults. Then my work here will be done.

Above: Age 5, being helped by my grandfather Louis, the one Lilly is named for, at my Aunt Hope's pool.
Below: Age 7, still with water wings, at Ed and Ariella Angert's pool. Seven and still wearing "water wings" and for some reason holding an umbrella...
Above: Age 10 after swimming at my Aunt Randee & Uncle Mike's pool. Uncle Mike would always throw me into the pool. I hated that. It certainly did not help me want to learn how to swim.
Below: Last summer with Lilly (age 7 mos) having a night swim at the condo pool.

Above: At the Dead Sea in Israel this past January. So much fun to be able to just sit there and float... No swimming required!
Below: This summer "swimming" with Lilly (18 mos) at the condo pool.  

Let's pretend you're doing this on somebody named Shaniqua (why Shaniqua? I don't know): Ask her to close her eyes and throughout whatever you're saying, tell her to think of her favorite color, unless it's black. It can't be black.

Crack an egg on your head (slap her head)
Let the yolk drip down (run your fingers down her back)

Let the yoke drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the yoke drip down (run your fingers down her back)

Concentrate, Concentrate. (say this while tapping your hands on her shoulders)
People are dying
Children are crying

Concentrate, Concentrate
Stick some pins in your back, (poke her back with all your fingers simultaneously) Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)

Stick a knife in your back, (make a fist and gently punch her back with the part of your fist with the thumb and forefinger)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Okay, you're at the empire state building, way at the top. You're walking, walking, walking... Suddenly you hear someone call your name. (Call Shaaaaaniiiiqua.... in one ear, then the other) You look up(angle her head up), down(angle her head down), side(turn her head to one side), to side (then the other). No one there. You keep walking. Then you hear it again(call Shaaaaaniiiqua... again). You look up down, side, to side (whole tilting thing again). No one's there. You keep walking. Look, you've reached the edge of the building. look, there's cars below you, can you see them, way down there? Your name again, but you ignore it. Suddenly you feel a PUSH(push her so she steps forward, but not hard enough to push her down)! Ask her what color she thought of and which one she saw when she got pushed. 

When they open their eyes they’re supposed to see the color they were think of… I think it only works if you were thinking of red.

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