First, the throwback part. Let's check out this page from my high school yearbook. . .
See that picture up there? The one of the girl diving into the pool for the start of a swim race? Yeah. That's me. 1977.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a Swimmer. I took my first swim lessons at age 5, and was pretty much at ease in the pool from that moment on. Some of my best childhood memories involve swim friends, swim team, and swim meets.
I gotta tell you, though. Swimming - for regular exercise - is a bit of a hassle. First, you need to have access to a pool. Then, there's always a lot of "getting ready" time (before and after a swim). And, well . . . there's also the matter of those pesky, telltale "goggle marks" on your face (which seem to get worse the older my skin gets).
When I had to stop running and dancing last year, I decided I might as well deal with the hassles and get back to swimming.
It's been a great decision all around. I love it. I'm good at it. And it's very good exercise, all around. I generally swim 4 times a week -- with a goal of swimming 10,000 yards per week (just over 5 1/2 miles). (It's still a hassle, though.)
Here's my pool. (Just imagine it with people in it.) (Sometimes too many people.) (Just sayin.)
One day, last summer, I noticed an adult woman taking a beginning swim lesson in the adjoining pool (a separate pool, not pictured above). I noticed her, particularly, because you just don't see that many adults learning to swim. She was nervous and hesitant -- but absolutely determined!
Now, swimming is not an easy sport to pick up as an adult. It takes a lot of coordination to get the pulling and the kicking and breathing (especially the breathing) all working together to propel a person - efficiently - through water. (After all, humans . . . were meant for land -- not water!) I am always impressed with - and really in awe of - adults who decide to take on learning-to-swim. I always try to be as encouraging as I can be when I see a new swimmer. (I was also a cheerleader in high school. . . )
So I became Miriam's (that's the new swimmer's name) cheerleader. I tell her how well she's doing and explain that - yes - the breathing is the hardest part. She tells me I make it look so easy. I tell her I've been swimming since I was five. She tells me that she watches me swim to try to figure out the mechanics of breathing. I tell her she's doing great and that I can see improvement every week.
It's like that.
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed Miriam in the lane next to me. She told me she had "graduated" from her swim lessons, and was now on her own. She was practicing in the lap pool, now -- and she told me her goal was to swim one length of the pool without stopping.
She was close. But she always stood up a few yards before she got to the end of the pool.
I encouraged her. You're so close, Miriam! Four more arm strokes and you'll be there!
She took off.
And . . . she made it! One length; no stopping!
When she grabbed the wall and stood up at the other end of the pool, she turned and looked at me. I just jumped up and down with my arms in the air. And so did Miriam.
It was like she'd just won an Olympic medal!
I swam down to meet her. You did it! I knew you could!
She was beaming -- just beaming. Now . . . she told me . . . my goal is TWO lengths without stopping!
I have no doubt!