“Drowning is the first step”
Swimming is not the most entertaining sport available. Sure, it’s amazing to see Michael Phelps pull of 20 laps in record Olympic history but for the swimmer it’s an open world of muscles interacting with such grace that propels a swimmer across a body of water. I came to terms with swimming after having to endure its costs of being oblivious to the knowledge of swimming.
Drowning had to be the first step in getting me to learn the beauty of swim. Over the summer, my family and I visited some friends and decided to plan a beach trip. Going to the beach was almost always a hassle, getting the chairs, carne asada, and everyone to agree on a plan is trouble, but the trip is always worth it. Once we all met up at the beach all of us jumped in except our parents and my cousin pulled the “help me I’m drowning” prank…… I fell for it. Unlike her I wasn’t pulling a prank. Someone on the shore spotted me, somehow, and rescued me. I was put on timeout for the remainder of the trip. Although the incident was bad, it didn’t seem that way, sure my foot might have slipped and maybe a little water came over my face, but it didn’t feel terrible. “I wasn’t drowning,” was my response to my mom but then again, I didn’t know the definition of drowning at the time. Eventually fourth grade started after that incident and a casual swim team known as Indian hill’s Swim team was accepting swimmers just at the right moment. My mom didn’t even allow her lungs to refill with oxygen before the words, “you’re joining,” came out. Little did I know that the simple act of breathing would be the most crucial part of learning how to swim.
I bought a swim suit that is basically spandex shorts that fit tight from the waist to the knees with a set of googles which were super cool! On the first day of practice, the coach was separating the “veterans” or those who have swimming experience from the newbies. I found myself in the three foot deep end and everyone around me was short but fast. They seemed like fish, in a good way. After everyone settled we got to the lessons. I originally thought swim only consisted of kicking legs and rotating arms, but I couldn’t be more wrong. There’s 4 strokes: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly all having different techniques on how to move your body. The worst had to be butterfly because just as the name suggests, both arms rotate simultaneously while your legs and feet whip as if you were a mermaid/ merman. The basic learning course took over months and how to execute each stroke without hurting yourself was worse because it meant dedicating hours a week while managing to finish homework in time. That was only the beginning.
Breathing came after, it’s not as easy as bringing your head above water and taking in air, there’s more to it. In order to breathe, you have to take a stroke of the water depending on the style of swim you are conducting. In between the stroke, your head has to turn towards the direction of the stroke (left stroke, turn left/ right stroke, turn right) or for breastroke and backstroke you breathe when your head is above water. Drowning was no longer an issue but breathing was.
In order to not lose speed, you have to focus on breathing and take less breathes, ironically. Too much breathing slows you down because it takes more time to breathe, thus more time to reach the wall and finish the race. I joined swim because I couldn’t breathe in water and now I’m being told to not breath, my fourth grade brain had never been more confused at the time. Each lap is 25 yards so we had exercises like “Eight 25’s! And no breathing!” from our coach. The first lap was just…nope…this….this is impossible, why is he doing this? Is this illegal? Yes, it was and eventually it became one of the easiest exercises. Time flew by and today breathing is one of the greatest lessons anyone’s ever taught me.
Speed turned into a skill …somehow. When swimming got easy we started working on how to control how fast or persistent you should be in a race. In order for your body to not wear out in the first lap or the second, there had to be a consistency within your strokes and breathing so that you reach good time. I started off in the 57 second range for the 50 yard freestyle and over time it slowly dropped. First year I finished at 46 seconds, the year after it became 35, and now I’ve hit 26. It’s a work in progress but dropping even 0.01 seconds is absolutely gorgeous.
This literacy on swim took up free time and energy for a simple kid but with my mom being around cheering and celebrating, it was worth it. Of course there were many others in my life that were proud of me like my dad and relatives, but none of them understood the challenge as much as mom. The reason my mom made me join was because she didn’t know how to swim as a kid so me learning ,and eventually getting good at it to the point of where I’m at today, made her just as proud of me as I was or even more proud. Any problem is opportunity waiting to happen. If you chose to let your problems decide your destiny then drowning is the only thing that you’ll ever accomplish. If life decides to take a swing at you can’t just blame them because life is never going to blame you for your failures or accomplishments.