03-May-2007

Swimming with the tide

Now that I have finished tom-toming to everyone I know about having learnt to swim, I have realised that my swimming skills depend on some specifics in the environment

I can only swim in a pool

I can only swim by the walls of the pool

I can only swim from the shallow end to the deep end by the walls and cannot dive directly into the deep end

The only reason I don’t feel like a loser when I read these specs is that I have been absolutely terrified of water all my life. My mom assures me that I used to hate having baths because of all the water the process involved (I did have baths and still do regularly). Which is probably the reason she laughs loud and merrily every time I accuse her of not having enrolled me in swimming classes as a child.

So after ten days of dragging myself out of bed every morning at six and sweating it in the pool, I am reasonably proud. This morning, nearly a week after the classes got over, I went to the pool by myself. Pumped and primed I jumped into the shallow side and started to swim breadth wise. Couple of turns later, I decided to try swimming to the deep end. Within three minutes I was panting and hanging to the wall by the side. That is when I noticed the lifeguard standing there. Clearly my uncoordinated hand and leg movement and impressive lack of breathing technique gave him the idea I was drowning. I grinned apologetically and plunged on with regular breaks by the pool wall till I reached the deep end. I started back again and emerged on cue after three minutes. The lifeguard looked at me disdainfully and suggested I should try using my arms better. Chastened I plunged back and started ploughing the waters. The ripples were alarming other people in the pool. I continued, undaunted and again emerged. Our man was ready with another handy advice. Apparently I did not follow a regular breathing rhythm but kept coming out in staccato patches. I had to count to myself so I emerged at some regular count (eg the 3rd count or the 5th count).

By this time I had been in the pool for forty minutes. My math was getting better with the counting, but little else. Still it is a far sight better than not knowing any swimming at all. Perhaps with practice I will look like Ian Thorpe’s sister in the pool. Or at least will one day manage to swim to the piece of floating wood when my ship wrecks.

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