Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Bruce Lee
Even as a young person I loved the water. I couldn’t wait to learn to swim. When we would go to see family in other states, especially in the summer all of us children were in a pool, lake, or pond. I remember like it was yesterday when I learned how to push off the side of the pool wall and glide across the water. I loved how the water engulfed me and rose overtop my body. It was exhilarating! My aunt was a beautiful swimmer, and she was the one that taught my sister and I the beginning aspects of swimming. My sister and I spent hours pushing off the side of the pool. I remember how we would wait for a small piece of wall space in the pool to open up so we could practice. We would be in the pool until our lips were blue, and our teeth were chattering. Our mom would advise us to get out of the pool since we were so cold. We would say as our teeth were chattering away “We are not cold”, but of course we were. Laying on the hot cement pool deck would warm us to the perfect temperature to go back in the pool to do it all over again.
My sister and I talked our parents into swim lessons the next year. I remember how I thought it was harder than it looked. How do people make it look so easy? When we would go back to see family we were a little better than we were the year before. My sister even decide to swim with her a cast on her arm. She really almost drown in the deep end of the pool. If it were not for our aunt that taught us the art of pushing off the wall, my sister would not be here today. As she was going under the water I remember that the last thing to go under the water was her cast. She really was trying not to get it wet. Boy, did her arm itch after it was dry…good thing she found a comb that she could fit between the plaster cast and her arm.
I finally learned how to swim well. Admittedly, my stroke looked more like a call for help than someone trying to swim. Once I got the high school, I was a appalled when the swim coach told me that I was only in intermediate swimming. I even had to stand on the tiled floor of the deck and practice my stroke by looking up at the wall, and following the grout line with my middle finger. It really did help. Honestly, I didn’t know how I looked when I was swimming. I thought I looked super graceful and like an Olympic champ. Now, I had someone telling me how much I looked like I was about to drown.
I went on to being a lifeguard, obtaining my Water Safety Instructor Certificate, Synchronized Swimming Certificate, Coach Certificate, Adapted Aquatics Certification, I had almost every certification in aquatics one could get, except SCUBA. Being in the water was so freeing. Overcoming the cold was always my biggest obstacles once I became a teenager. To this day, I hate cold water, unless I am drinking it. Once in the rhythm of swimming my mind feels free. It’s so liberating!
As I start a new chapter of my life, I have had some time to be grateful for my family outings to other states, spending time with my cousins in the pools, lakes, and ponds. Being grateful for my aunt, taking the time to show us how beautiful and fun pushing off the side of the pool can be. Sometimes the love for something so simple can change your life, being in the water made me the person I am today. The memories of being a lifeguard, teaching so many aquatic classes, those memories are ones I cherish so much. It really brings a smile to my face every time. This only reinforces the desire to have swimming again be a part of my life.