Back Story

Coming Clean

swingingI have always thought I learned to swim one hot summer in my grandmother‘s neighbor’s pool. The truth is, I spent much more time in lakes and streams, but with considerably less instruction, so maybe my memory is at least mostly correct.

Except, I never really learned to swim. I’m more competent than capable.  I can make it, in my own fashion, from one end of a pool to another many times, but it is neither pretty nor efficient. I grew up bathing. All those summers off the grid, swimming was as much about getting wet and soaped as anything else.

Dive. Lily dip. Lather. Dive. Lily dip. Rinse. Repeat.

So it was no small thing that I decided to make real use of the community pool this summer. I paced it off and figured that about 35 lengths made a half-mile. Starting, as I did, winded by just 10 feeble lengths, that milestone seemed a long way off. But even with bad form, I quickly added to my daily count, back and forth, still never getting the hang of the breathing.

I like to swim first thing in the morning, when no one else is there. I love breaking the water’s mirror-like surface, the quiet, the soft angling light. I thrash about and no one’s the wiser.

Two friends offered to teach me proper technique, but so far it hasn’t happened, summer schedules being what they are. B., a fine looking specimen with great form who beat me to the lap lane this weekend, urged me to take lessons: You won’t regret it, he promised with a reassuring smile.

And then he dropped the F bomb: forty-six lengths equal a half mile, not thirty-something.

I’d managed 40 that morning. The next, it was 42. Today, 50. To my own delight, the fact — 46 lengths = 1/2 mile — mobilized me. Rather than feeling defeated by news that I hadn’t gotten as far as I thought, I was energized by it. I felt a growth mindset kick in…

Wait ’til I get lessons!




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