I have this recurring dream.
I’m with my family on the water in a seaworthy vessel when the vessel ceases to be seaworthy. It becomes necessary to leave said vessel and we all jump into the water prepared to swim to safety. The problem I face is that I’m the only one who can’t swim.
I awake from the dream and realize that although the nightmare is over – I’m still the only one who can’t swim. I also realize that in a situation like that I’ll be telling my husband and my children to go on without me – both literally and figuratively – because me a go dead.
So before the last year ended I had already made the resolution that come the New Year I would begin to learn how to swim. It’s a resolution that I’ve been keeping, every week (give or take) for the last five months. I wasn’t sure how I’d look with a set of wings (arm bands) on, but I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to find inflatable rings in my size.
There are a few things that you should learn when you’re young. Swimming is one of them. The funny thing is that I did take lessons when I was younger, and while my sister and I went to swim classes at the same time she came out a swimmer and I … well I came out almost knowing how to float.
That was one time I wished my mother had insisted that I go back and finish what I’d started because I wouldn’t have been where I am now – fully grown and trying not to sink like a rock in the water. But I’m actually seeing progress because when I’m told to dive to the bottom to get some sand my body does the sensible thing and tries to stay up.
My current challenge with co-ordination explains why I’m not a good video game player and why I prefer the flute to the piano. It seems that I’m better at doing things one at a time, or at least concentrating on one thing at a time. I used to pride myself on being a multi-tasker – but not in this environment. Who can concentrate on kicking your feet in a manner similar to mermaid fins while moving your arms one after the other and pushing the water back behind you as you try to move ahead?
If that isn’t bad enough, learning the breast stroke requires that I pull my legs up, turn my toes out like a frog (a most unnatural feeling by the way), do a karate kick and then snap my legs back together in quick time as If there’s no water between them. This, while my hands sweep out and down the water that’s in my way so that I can move ahead. And my instructor has the nerve to tell me to relax, which I’d be happy to do if I didn’t have to concentrate so much on what all my various limbs are supposed to be doing.
They’ve been times when I’ve ingested what seems like a year’s worth of my salt quotient in one lesson, my legs ache from the multiple repetitions that my instructor insists will build endurance and times when no matter how fast I think I’m kicking, I look up only to find that I’m not even close to my short destination. And can somebody please tell me when I’ll get that “chicken wing” arm position that’s necessary for the front crawl?
I’m not sure if I’ll ever master the butterfly stroke, but I didn’t come into this thing to win any competitions. I don’t need to swim to the island of Sisters or take part in the Shark Bait Swim from Jumby Bay – a race, which by the way, my son successfully completed. I just want to know that when a vessel starts taking on water, I can jump in with a splash and keep up with the rest of them.