Barbara: The delirious pleasure of a new skill

I’ve been promising to talk about my swimming journey since I started here, and I’m going to do that in a minute, but first a moment of illumination.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sacharules/5109722538/in/photolist-8MwEus-fyeKsK-aciAhu-ebxTPY-ebsgwX-eqHhhw-epM2Hv-epM2f4-epM35T-eqHhQu-epM3aR-epM2Ez-epM32V-eqHhwy-bBwG35-bBwEdm-bBwHnL-bBwKPC-dFwgdS-8U5NMN-ckYmbW-d75kVq-d78Fmh-8gyGQc-cPwP2L-ebxTU1-8JD1zm-eqHhUY-eqHhsN-epM29H-eqHhLu-cyBDPf/

Collaroy Pool, Northern Beaches, Sydney by Sacha Fernandez

I can’t even remember when I first started getting in a pool. My father was a big, powerful swimmer and loved taking us to the local pools. I took swimming lessons at the Y when I was about five, I guess, but even then, I didn’t like to put my face in the water. When I was about seven or eight, I dove in a pool, cracked my head on the bottom and passed out.  My dad was watching and snatched me up before I drowned (no doubt the lifeguard would have done so in any event), but it scared the living daylights out of me.  Nothing could persuade me to put my face in the water again.

In tenth grade in Colorado, children are required to learn to swim. I dutifully learned every stroke—back, side, breast—but they couldn’t get me to breathe in the water for freestyle. No way.

Thus it remained for decades. I loved swimming, with my kids, on my own. I’m a strong swimmer, too, thanks to all the muscles from gardening.  It’s relaxing and enjoyable and easy.  I can swim back and forth for hours—back, side, breast.

Three years ago, I decided enough was enough. I was going to learn how to swim a proper free-style. I would take lessons and figure it out and practice until I got better, and then, eventually, I would be able to swim a mile without stopping. Even if it took a decade.

I hired a teacher, who was all of seventeen. She could not understand what I meant when I said I didn’t know how to breathe in the water. I said, “What would you tell a small child who was learning from the start?” That’s where we started.

I didn’t master it in that six weeks. I was too embarrassed to practice in front of her much, and even more embarrassed at my gargantuan slashing in the pool next to smooth lane-swimmers who barely broke the water.  But I practiced.

And practiced. I choked and coughed. I splashed massively and embarrassed myself by stopping mid-lane more than once.  It took months before I found any kind of rhythm at all, and months more before it felt even remotely like something I could sustain.  I tried two-breath strokes. Four-breath. Finally tried three, but that was hard, turning side to side. For anyone who learned to swim young, this seems ridiculous, I’m sure. In fact, swimming is not a simple activity. The brain is absolutely certain the body is going to drown any second.

For awhile, discouraged by my excrutiatingly slow progress, I gave up on swimming and started focusing on other things.  I moved to a new gym and they had a pool outside.  One night, I saw a woman swimming luxuriously at dusk and I desperately wanted to be her.

I started practicing again.  I knew the three stroke breath was the best, and focused on making that work.  I showed up at the outside pool when there were not many people in the lap area, and swam under the open sky. I started feeling the way I had as a young girl and then teen, who would do any chore, anything, to get to the pool every single afternoon and stay there all day.  It was absolute, complete bliss.

Maybe because I finally relaxed. Maybe because I was more comfortable at the new gym being a clutz (there are lots of us there), one evening, just at dusk, I warmed up as ever, and then moved into my freestyle—

And just swam. I forgot about counting or breathing or being careful not to go too fast. I looked at the light on the bottom of the pool and felt the air on my arms and breathed and moved and breathed and moved, and then I swam another lap and another, and then I didn’t care if it was freestyle or side stroke or backstroke, in fact if I swam backstroke, I could look up at the sky and the mountains, and the water stroked my body and I was free and light as feathers.

Bliss.

All those days of practice finally came together into muscle and body memory. Victory!  I still can’t swim very far. I’m slow and likely not that graceful.  But I can swim with my face in the water. I was 50 years old when I took lessons from that teenager, and it meant I had to be a total beginning and make myself vulnerable.

I am inordinately proud of myself.   I have learned a new skill.  I will get better at it, over time. Better and better. One of these decades, I’ll be able to swim a mile without stopping. Freestyle, breathing.  You wait and see.  (Also, I am going to swim in that pool in Sydney, I swear it. Isn’t it fantastic? There is one in a hotel in Singapore, high above the city, that I want to swim in, too. At night. This is also one I loved, a retired 1930s pool in Rotorua NZ, where CR and I swam in the pouring rain.  GLORIOUS day!:

The Blue Baths, Rotorua

 

 

What would you learn if you gave yourself permission to be a beginner and risk looking foolish?  What secret desire lurks in your heart?  

85 thoughts on “Barbara: The delirious pleasure of a new skill

  1. Kieran says:

    This IS fantastic! You’re inspiring me, Barbara! I want to swim, too, but every time I try free-style, I get water deep in my ears. I’ve tried earplugs, and nothing works that well. Do you wear ear plugs?

    Congratulations! I’m so happy for you!

    • Kieran, that water in my ears used to bother me, but I never notice it now. I don’t wear earplugs or a swim cap, but if you do both, it might help. It might also be that it feels weird at first, but the water drains out in a few minutes once you get out of the pool.

    • And if it doesn’t drain out right away, check with your doctor on that, you can always try a little rubbing alcohol. I saturate a q-tip and then get some into my ear. The rubbing alcohol dries faster than water and frequently, at least for me, gets rid of that water in the ear feeling.

    • Kay says:

      Kieran, I swim and I have a medical condition in my ear that prohibits me from getting any water in my ear, even in the shower. My ear doctor sent me to a person who does custom-built earplugs. They squirt silicon into your ear, and you get an instant, perfect, watertight fit! At the time, the doc told me the plug was guaranteed to a depth of two feet, which means no diving, but swimming was no problem. It was a long time ago (that plug has lasted forever), I don’t know how you’d find a person like that in the phone book, or if you need a prescription for the plug. But maybe it would work for you.

      • Kieran says:

        Thanks Kay, Barbara, and Maria!

        Kay, I’m esp. excited at the idea of getting those kind of ear plugs. Thanks for letting me know about them. Maria, I’ve never tried the Q-tip thing–I do keep something in a bottle I bought at the drugstore called swimmer’s ear prevention drops. I still get into trouble, though.

        Barbara, you rock for sharing this–thanks again!

    • Cath G says:

      Try EAR STOPPLES. They are a soft, malleable product that can be used to create a water tight seal around the ear canal. They look like a lump of wax and cotton – just cut a quarter of the piece and mold it to fit your ear.
      Hope this helps.

  2. I love this. And I would learn to swim, because I’m so afraid of water. Living 13 miles away from a pool convinces me I’d never stick with it, even if I found a class. It’s on my bucket list, but I keep moving it to the bottom.

  3. Jenni Mac says:

    I would learn to dance. I love music, hearing it, singing it, playing it, moving to it. However, I never let myself move. I’m very overweight and don’t have any amount of stamina, but last night I played Just Dance 2014 with my daughter. She’s twelve, fit and loves music like I do. For the first time in many years, I let myself move and be ridiculous. One of my goals for the year is to learn to hoop dance. I’m practicing letting go and looking foolish in the privacy of my living room, one disco tune at a time.

    • aunt snack says:

      Once I went out to a bar with a guy upon whom I had an enormous crush. There weren’t many people on the dance floor so I was too embarrassed to get up and dance with him. Finally, he went out and danced alone. After half a song, I figured that if he wasn’t too embarrassed by the fact that nobody was dancing with him, then I could probably survive revealing what a klutz I am. At the end of the evening, all I regretted was how much dancing time I had wasted.

  4. Lois says:

    Good for you Barbara!
    It also took me a long time to learn to swim because I didn’t want my face in the water. Then I discovered nose clips and loved to swim under water.
    When we were moving to the lake I decided I needed to take a lifesaving class. I was in my 30s and feeling young until I took that class with teenagers on the swim team! It was a challenge but I made it through. I’d always wanted to scuba dive so I took that class simultaneously. Some times I would get out of the pool at one college and get to the pool at the other college. After those I took a WSI class.
    I love to swim but I still don’t like freestyle.
    I have to think about what else I want to learn.

      • I’m someone who needs nose clips to swim underwater too. Haven’t done it in years, but I used to do somersaults underwater, which was fun. I still don’t put my face in the water, but I went swimming yesterday.

      • Lee Ann Gilbert says:

        Swimming was what I did every day for pretty much all of my childhood. I remember at the beginning the water in the nose was a problem. When you’re breathing, exhale through your nose. You can do the same thing when you’re doing somersaults in the water. Although I don’t swim often anymore, I dream of swimming frequently. In my dreams, I can breath underwater and swim/fly in the air. 🙂

  5. I’m a fairly slow swimmer, but I can go forever. Swam the distance races in college; never won, but it really is an amazing form of exercise. I had such a steady pace that I would work out with the men’s team as a pacer, the male long-distance swimmers knew how often they had to pass me (pretty much every lap) in order to stay on pace.

    That feeling you had, when everything clicked — I used to get that in the fall, returning to the college swim team after a summer of not swimming much (I know, sounds backwards; I was a lifeguard and swim instructor, but that’s different from a daily swim team workout), and the first day I would feel awkward and miserable, like I’d forgotten how to swim; the second day I would hurt all over; but the third day, in the middle of the warm-up, everything somehow lined up, and it just felt right, and I’d think, “Oh, yeah, that’s how to swim.”

    Oh, and FWIW, if you can master breathing every three (or five) strokes, it really is good for stabilizing your stroke, so you’re being more efficient and streamlined in the water, and your muscles aren’t getting lopsided. It can feel odd for a while, but eventually clicks.

    Gin

    • Gin, you sound like my niece. Never a showy swimmer, but you can clock her pace with a metronome. She encouraged me to do the three breath for balance and strength, and it’s still a little challenging to turn to the right, but I use that three count now as my standard.

    • I realized that it sounded like I hadn’t figure out that the 3 or 5 breath is the best one. I noticed this because Chistopher Robin went back to swimming and liked a 2 breath, and developed muscles on one side, not the other!

      He’s in master swimming now, so developing a new breathing style, too, and has evened out. His impressive muscles are inspiring to me. 😉

  6. Swimming is a form of meditation. When I was going through a life changing event in my twenties, swimming sustained me. I’m out of the habit now, but my children swim competitively. My oldest is a picture of speed and grace in the water. At fourteen, she is impossibly beautiful as she glides–no, hovers down the lane. I’m living vicariously, I know.

    Thanks for the beautiful post.

  7. I love swimming. I just bought a new car and had been a member of one gym, a yoga studio and the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. I am now only a member of the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, the price was right and I love swimming.

    What I want and have wanted for a while is to learn how to ride horses English style. I love the clothes but I also just love the difference it offers from Western. There’s a horse center close to my home and once I get the financial situation resolved again, I will be looking at it.

    I’ve also wanted to take piano lessons again. I don’t have a piano but I want to play again. And singing lessons. I want to sing. I won’t ever be some super star, but I want to practice the correct breathing and lose myself in the moment.

  8. Jen Wyatt says:

    I don’t know how to swim. Now, as the mother of three young boys, I feel tremendous pressure to get them in lessons so they won’t be like me, approaching middle age and terrified of putting my head underwater.

    • Oh, yes, get them in a pool/lake ASAP.

      And just a suggestion — either do NOT stick around for the class, maybe see if someone else can take them, at least initially, or else commit to plastering an encouraging smile on your face and doing/saying nothing but “Good job” sorts of things for the duration of the beginning lessons, until they’re comfortable in the water. Otherwise, your fears will transmit to them in subconscious ways. (I was teaching a bunch of adults afraid of the water, and this was in a lake, on the first day of the class, and I was standing about waist-deep facing them, trying to get them to come in deeper, and a stupid fish bit me on the back of my leg. I couldn’t even swat it away, because I’m pretty sure that if I’d reacted, those adults would have turned around and never gotten in the water again in their lifetimes.)

      I still remember the day I’d finally gotten an 8 yo boy (embarrassed by being in with the 5 yo, but afraid to put his face in the water, so he had to be in the baby class) to dunk his head, and he was dripping wet and dripping with excitement that he’d done it and hadn’t died and might be able to join the kids his own age. He ran over to his mother, who promptly DRIED HIS FACE with a towel, because, of course, a wet face was scary and to be avoided at all costs. Sigh. Took weeks to get his face wet again.

      I know the mother didn’t intend to undo the work, but she was terrified of the water and didn’t even realize the message she was sending. That’s why, if possible, send them with someone else. And learn to swim yourself — that was what motivated the adult students I had. They had kids, and didn’t want to pass on their fears. The adults never got completely fearless, but they did manage basic floating and paddling around without panic.

      • Jen Wyatt says:

        Thank you for the good advice. You’re right about the kids sensing the fear. Can’t fool ’em no matter how hard I try.

  9. carol says:

    I would like to learn how to do the flamingo and the tango. Maybe I could take private lessons just for my own pleasure. I seem to have lost my ability to let go and dance with grace. Would love to take painting and piano lessons again instead of the dabbling I do now. Like you, I would have to take lessons to put my face in the water and swim.

    You are an inspiration to just go for it by being vulnerable and practice, practice, practice.

  10. Eileen A-W says:

    I haven’t gone swimming in a very long time. The last time I got a little panicky which was strange since I used to be a very good swimmer. I dream of being able to glide through the water again but haven’t had the opportunity nor the time. I know, I must make the time and maybe I will soon. I just need to get back into the exercise routine. Taking that first step is huge & a must do for me. I loved reading about your journey Barbara.

  11. JenniferNennifer says:

    I would like to learn to speak French. And yes, looking foolish is one of the things that stops me. I was picking up some words from a co-worker who was French, told a good friend one of my new words, and he questioned my pronunciation. I stopped right there and never tried again. Stupid, I know.

    • Jen Wyatt says:

      Thank you for the good advice. You’re right about the kids sensing the fear. Can’t fool ’em no matter how hard I try.

    • Jen Wyatt says:

      Jennifer,
      When I was taking French in high school, the teacher encouraged us to pronounce the words in a way that might sound foolish or feel goofy to us, saying that if we tried to do it the way we speak English, we would sound stilted and awkward.
      Get some Edith Piaf CDs, Google the lyrics, and sing along. 🙂
      Bon chance!

    • Kelly S says:

      If you have a public library near you that has a subscription to Mango Languages, they have a wonderful selection of languages, including French, and have a nice way of teaching. Plus free to the library card holder.

    • Maine Betty says:

      JenniferNennifer – French pronunciation really brings that pedantic part of people out, I’m not sure why. Maybe because students get corrected in class so often before they get the rules down. I figure if I sound like Pepe le Pew, I’m sounding just about right.

    • Micki says:

      I had a French boyfriend for a few months, and decided that French was just not for me. But, this past year or so, I am suddenly bombarded with French entertainment! One of my favorite comedians does gigs in French (with an definite accent and everything — very scary and very inspiring), and my favorite cat videos by fairesetII are in French — I think it’s by native speakers. I’m pretty sure this has shown up on either ReFab or Argh, but . . . I love it, especially the part about breakfast. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aomzFU_jSQ

  12. I’m sure your friend thought he was being helpful, but we are so very shy when we start learning something new. What if you started with one of those Rosetta stone courses? I used one for Spanish to go on the Camino and it served me well. Not that I could really speak Spanish, but I had words for things I needed to know.

  13. What a lovely post. Very calming. I could visualize you gliding through the water. The two new skills I tried in mid life were, learning the piano, and learning Italian. Well, piano lessons lasted for about two years. Apart from some very simple tunes, I was pretty hopeless. Ha ha. Italian is still in the works. I’ve decided to take it one step further and join the evening Italian classes at our senior center. We shall see.

  14. Maryanne says:

    Barbara, I love to swim, too, I just don’t get to do it as often as I’d like.

    Three years ago I started fusion style belly dance lessons. It’s been a lot of fun and my troupe-mates are wonderful, talented women. Performing with the group has really gotten me to step outside my comfort zone. Which is a very good thing.

    If I had the time, I would love to learn how to play the drums. Who knows, I could be the next best thing since Buddy Rich

    You *can* teach an old dog new tricks; it just takes us a little longer

  15. Gaylin says:

    Such a wonderful accomplishment!

    I can swim but I only go in the water when on vacation – I love water parks!

    I don’t care for indoor pools and here in Vancouver our summers aren’t hot enough for me to feel the need to swim to cool off. I live 6 blocks from the beach but you couldn’t pay me enough to get in that water – I don’t like swimming in salt water and then there is pollution (which they test for, every day). Ugh.

  16. I am a water girl and always have been. I learned to swim when I was four or five because we grew up at the Jersey Shore, steps from the beach and Atlantic Ocean. During the decades of my obesity, I became far too awkward and short of breath to do much freestyle swimming. I’d side stroke or do frog kick while on my back instead.

    I find the water peaceful, calming, supportive, and restorative. Whether I’m in it, on it in a boat or just looking at it, water does me a world of good.

    I also love to snorkel. This is even easier now that I’ve lost so much weight. Looking at colorful reefs with abundant sea life, bright tropical fish and all the wonders under the sea while my strong legs keep me moving through the water brings me great joy.

  17. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Hmmmmm…been thinking ever since seeing this post (BTW, before I forget, good on you, Barbara!). I used to be on the swim team in school, played cello quite poorly as a kid, still play piano, still doing ballet after mumble-mumble years… I have had so many new starts, restarts, and omigod-how-long-before-they-figure-out-I-haven’t-a-clue starts, that I can’t think of anything left that I would feel like a total moron or be really scared trying. Well, singing, but that’s because I have gotten such negative feedback over the years, so I just sing in the car or alone in the house.

    But then I remembered this! I recently decided to take up beading (jewelry making)and being me I taught myself a couple of basics and promptly signed up for 3 (consecutive) days’ worth of master classes at the end of October. Which I almost backed out of. Then just couldn’t cancel at the last second, so went. All of the women there were wearing unbelievable works of art that they had made themselves. The teacher in the course is a world-renowned beader and was on her way to Japan next for courses. I was a tadpole in a pool of bullfrogs — but I was stubborn, the ladies were all VERY nice and VERY tolerant of this idiot who was trying to learn how to read the diagrams, had no idea how to do the basic stitches, let alone the advanced variations on a theme. Sigh.

    HOWEVER, I have completed not only two of the three projects from the master classes, designed and made a pair of earrings to match the first project (necklace), finished the second project (bracelet) and am finishing my own design of matching earrings and necklace to go with the bracelet (for the earrings I had to modify the basic motif!), and have successfully completed another project (necklace, earrings and bracelet) from a design book, meaning I can read and decipher the hieroglyphics.

    And I am absolutely loving it!!! So, yes, I am totally proud of my new skill!

    (Next targeted skill: doll house furnishings.)

  18. I would love to learn to swim with my face under water…I learned to swim in Lake Michigan where Mom insisted that we keep our heads up so we could see the shore and her…I swim 3 days a week, but always a side stroke or a very slow crawl or backstroke.

    My biggest dream is to learn how to act…I’ve always wanted to be in a play, but I’ve never had the opportunity to do that. Husband retires in May, so maybe that chance will come around…of course, I’m not retiring…hmmmm…

    Thanks for inspiration, Barbara!!

  19. I’ve always wanted to take piano lessons but for really weird reasons my parents wouldn’t agree to it. As an adult I kept waiting until I had more money (for a piano) or had more time or whatever so I still haven’t gotten around to it. But I want to.

    I want to take voice lessons, too. I was a good singer as a child and I love to sing now. I would like to be better at it and maybe sing with a choral group.

    Martial arts. Again, something I’ve wanted to do for some time. I took a class for a few months the summer before I left the Oregon Coast and wasn’t in a good position to practice (my apartment was overcrowded and I was too self-conscious to practice down on the beach). I would love to get strong and capable and really kick-ass. I want to be an old lady you do NOT mess with. 🙂 Who can also sing like an angel and play piano to make you weep.

  20. I never learned to swim as a child, and I mean simply enough not to drown. Some years later I figured out how to tread water, but doubt I could do that for long. I still can’t float. I’m simply not cut out for water. I think there’s a deep fear of drowning in my somewhere. It’s also why I’d never scuba dive.

    What would I want to do? Hmmm… I really would like to learn how to sew and crochet. There’s something special and powerful about being able to make something tangible and useful. Maybe someday.

    PS: I read this entire blog before realizing it was Barbara and not Krissie talking. I couldn’t figure out when Krissie had lived in Colorado. *headdesk*

  21. Annamal says:

    I love snorkelling another attempt (I used to jump off the back of my dad’s old boat and snorkell home) and swimming breast stroke but I have never mastered free-style breathing, thank you for inspiring me to make another attempt.

    One day I would really like to swim Alcatraz.

  22. AndreaS says:

    This is very inspiring Barbara. As a Minnesota lake country girl I learned to swim very young. But I still don’t feel entirely comfortable with the freestyle stroke and the breathing. It’s a very hard thing to master.

    This is reminding me about glass blowing. I took a class almost a year ago that was the basics of how to make some really easy stuff. And I think it’s really cool and I want to try it again. But I’m a little afraid to go to the open classes. But I think I just need to go to one and try. Even if I don’t make anything neat, it’ll be good to get more experience so the next time I can make something super cool.

  23. Kelly S says:

    I can swim, not well but putting my face in the water isn’t an issue.

    I’d like to acquire all the skills to be an excellent spy, so black belt in at least 1 martial art, fluent in more languages (Spanish – because it’s practical, French – because all spies speak it, Chinese and Japanese – so I can overhear & understand things, Celtic – because I like the accent), get a pilot’s license, become a crack shot, scuba certified, and have wittier comebacks. I’m sure there are more spy things, but really, I’d like to learn more languages, have at least 1 black belt in a martial art, learn to fly a plane, and have wittier, timely comebacks.

    • Micki says:

      *gobsmacked* You know, that’s a GREAT reason to learn French! I may never be a spy, but it would be lovely to swan around, speaking in French and pretending to be one (-:. (I have to say, the idea is very intriguing, but I have no desire to learn how to overhear “the nuclear weapons are in fifth hangar from the right” in any language.)

      I love, love, love that. Someone should write a language series on that! “How to Be A Spy in Japanese” — LOL.

  24. KimCz says:

    Barbara, I totally love this post. Like Krissie, I picked a word for the year and my word is Conquer. This year, I am really striving to conquer my fears and act on the many things that I need and want to do.

    I’ve studied ballet on and off since I was five years old. Someday I want to dance en pointe. Years ago, I bought a pair of pointe shoes for inspiration so one day I’ll get there.

    I’ve also always wanted to learn how to do a back handspring but at 43 I am thinking I might have to give up on that one. 🙂

  25. Maine Betty says:

    Barbara, I’m very impressed that you had the patience and grit to approach the parts of swimming you were uncomfortable with such method, and accepted that improvement would be incremental. That’s a life lesson right there.

  26. Micki says:

    Inspirational!

    Not being able to do something can really shift your perspective on it. I love the sidestroke, but am not very fond of the freestyle. I didn’t even think that my obesity might have something to do with it — I’ve always been slightly clumsy with it, and put my extreme clumsiness down to lack of practice. But, I know I can do it, so it’s very easy to ignore it and do something fun. I really want to get back into the pool more often . . . .

    I’m testing the waters with Excel right now. Barriers are that it’s not a fun topic of conversation, and also I’m a little afraid it will take a lot of time to learn to do the things I want to do. It sounds boring. But, if I could get a little thermometer chart to do what I want it to do, I would get freakishly excited. First hurdle is to find a good how-to book, I guess.

    • Micki says:

      I think I’m going to just have to set a timer, and mess around with tutorials for 30 minutes three times a week. I need the timer because I was goofing around with it for two hours last night, and didn’t get to bed until midnight. (yawn)

      My sister is an accountant, and she knows this stuff, but asking her for help feels like cheating (-:. She’ll probably do it for me (the formulas, that is), and then I won’t know how to do it myself.

      The problem I’m working on now is that I write in one document (saved each day). I have the cumulative total to input, but I want to figure out how to come up with a daily total — even if I skip writing a day. If B is 0, then C is CX:CY, otherwise, C is . . . CX:CY anyway? Oh dear. It’s 10:30. I’m turning off the computer, and doing this tomorrow (-:.

      Good luck with Excel to you, too, Barbara! And thanks Kelly, for the tip — on my list for tomorrow.

    • Lois says:

      I took classes with some friends so we got to visit and learn. I have a window for my bathroom all cut and edges ground but haven’t foiled or soldered it yet. The classes stopped so procrastination set in, plus I don’t really enjoy the soldering part. But the playing with glass I love.

  27. McB says:

    Such a lovely story, thank you for sharing it! I’m not a swimmer, myself. I can manage a bit, but I’m terribly uncoordinated about it. Actually, I’m uncoordinated about all forms of exercise. And yes, I started as a child. My dad could swim like a fish. My mom could doggy paddle with the best of them. And I could stay afloat, but when I turned my head out of the water to breathe, I sank like a stone.

  28. Sorry I’m late to the party–it has been that kind of week 🙂

    I had some bad experiences trying to learn how to swim as a kid (I was always afraid of being in water that was over my head, and my father was a “throw them in the water, they’ll learn” kind of guy) and never learned.

    When I was in my mid-20’s I lived on a lake, and was determined to make myself learn. I finally got to the point where I could do the breaststroke out to a floating dock and back, even though not having land under my feet gave me anxiety every time.

    Ironically, I love the water. I used to go canoeing and fishing, and even took part in a sailboat race once (I was a teen and insane). I love being by the ocean. But it has been years since I swam, and I doubt I’d last 5 minutes now, but I remember how lovely it felt even to do that little bit.

    Kudos on learning, Barbara!

    I want to learn how to play guitar. I taught myself 6 chords back in college (over 30 years ago, now) and don’t remember them, but I would like to relearn, and learn more. I’ve actually had 3 guitars in my upstairs closet for a year (storing them for a friend), but just never seem to find the time or energy. Maybe this year 🙂

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