Recently I decided to have swimming lessons. I say recently, I made the decision back in January this year (it was part of my New Year’s Resolution), but I’ve only got round to actually booking the course now.
The main reason behind this was from my visit to Thailand last year. I did a day trip on a tour boat around the Southern Islands, which involved snorkeling. Let’s just say it really didn’t go well! Even with a life jacket on, I nearly succumbed to that salty sea water. Needless to say, after around 10 mins of panic attack trying to get back on the boat, all my snorkeling gear came off and I didn’t go back in the water.
Because I still want to travel around a bit and this will usually mean being in water a fair bit, I thought gaining more confidence in the water can’t possibly be a bad thing. PLUS, black people (massive generalisation, but most black people I’ve known) don’t swim well, at all.
I booked myself onto a beginners swimming course. I figured this more suitable than the intermediate course as I’m not even confident with anything other than breaststroke. It’s mostly the water in my face thing that I have issues with….(I had an accident in a pond in nursery, I’m pretty sure most of my fears stem from that).
I was very nervous the first week, as I didn’t know what to expect. I got talking to one girl and realised I needn’t be worried. She was repeating the course after having little success in her previous beginners course. At that point I wondered if maybe I should be ok with the intermediate, but figured I’d stay with it and let the teacher decide.
Week 1: Water safety and kicking
This first lesson concentrated on getting in and out of the pool safely, the kicking motion and how to go from a swimming to standing position in the water. This was done on both our fronts and backs. We also learnt how to float, whilst still grasping the edge of the pool for safety. I felt very confident at this point, as I could do this quite well, and the water was only up to my waist. No sweat!
Unfortunately, I missed the second lesson; week two, as I was bleeding so heavily, I’d have turned the pool into the red Sea. Not cool and majorly embarrassing for me. I was disappointed that I couldn’t even watch the session. The staff said I wasn’t allowed poolside.
Week 3: Breaststroke. Arms. Legs. Technique and a length
My second lesson; week three involved more movement in the pool. I felt like I arrived at my third lesson with a jolt, having missed the previous one. We concentrated on the arms and legs for breaststroke. First we did the arms, then the legs and then coordinated the two together. I was told by the teacher a few times that I was “very good.”
Honestly, I felt struggled a bit with this. I know i said I could do it before, but I’m now very aware I wasn’t using the proper technique! I may be more at home with front crawl – who’d have thought it.
We were then asked to swim a length using breaststroke and that length felt like the longest time ever! I kept forgetting how to do it properly, ha. Towards the end of the lesson, we practiced treading water. I’m fairly confident that if it had to do this on my own, in the sea.. I’d die long before I was rescued!
Week 4: Body positioning and head underwater
The penultimate lesson; week four, we had a completely different teacher. This changed everything as he had different teaching methods. He also said we hadn’t spent much time swimming and he wanted to see if we actually could. He’d been lifeguarding during the previous lessons, so he had some idea of how well we were doing.
He told us his intentions straight away and I immediately panicked. I knew I wanted to try putting my head underwater, that’s why I bought my goggles. I just thought I’d be trying it on my own terms… But no!
I spent much of the lesson with my face in the water, both on my front and on my back. I swam a fair few widths like this, doing a sort of front crawl/doggy paddle. I must admit, I feel a lot more confident about putting my head in the water of my own accord. I just need to learn how to breathe, without panicking, but I realise this will come with time and more practice.
We’ve been told that next week we’ll find out whether or not we’re good enough to advance to the intermediate class, or if we have to repeat beginners. I’ll be crossing fingers and toes! I wonder what else the final week will bring and who’ll be teaching us!