Thursday, February 08, 2007

Adult Swim

Did I mention my intent to become a better swimmer this year?

For the most part, I've always hated swimming. I don't mind splashing around in the water from time to time, but I've never enjoyed practiced, coordinated, point-to-point swimming. This started when I had to take lessons as a kid at our local pool, where I was always cold (it was an outdoor pool, and the shower/locker-room facilities were open-air too). Propelling myself through water simply seemed more trouble than it was worth. Even worse was when I had to swim on a team, actually competing in such unpleasantness. Oddly, it seems I should like swimming -- my mom and both sisters have been avid swimmers for decades, and if you believe in astrology (not that I do), we Cancers are supposed to be at home in the water.

In any case, after avoiding the water for years on end, I've tried swimming in various lakes in the last couple summers, and was disappointed (and in one case, spooked) by how weak, uncoordinated, and non-confident I was. I couldn't even bring myself to dive into the water -- flinging myself headfirst into anything seems counterintuitive.

So over the last five weeks I attended a series of eight half-hour swim lessons at Medgar Evers Pool (conveniently located right across the street from Ezell's). I relearned the basics: crawlstroke, backstroke, breaststroke, treading water, and I even did a few shaky dives off the pool's edge. Since the lessons ended last week, I've twice gone swimming on my own, and can feel myself getting stronger and more coordinated with each session. The water isn't as cold as I remember, though it seems I get tired a lot faster. But last night I made that pool my biatch.

In the meantime I dug out an old swim lesson report card (seen above, enhanced with my own artwork), probably from 1973 or '74 (when I was 4 or 5). Here's what my instructor, someone named Nancy Baer, had to say: "Steve is really starting to relax in the water. I strongly suggest to continue with lesson [sic] because he is now starting to lose his fear of water. He can now face float and back float on his own."

Not too shabby.

Final thought: There should be a reality show in which celebrities learn how to swim. Take care of yourselves, and each other.
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