swimming and me: lesson 1

Do you have that big secret you are really embarrassed about? And you try to avoid all sorts of conversations about it? Well here is mine.

I cannot SWIM.

I am 32 and in a month’s time will add 1 more year to that figure. Swimming is a life-skill they say. It’s compulsory in some countries for children to learn swimming before they leave primary school, it never was in India.

With the guilt of a sinner, I avoid conversations about water and don’t go on holidays that expect even basic swimming skills. In fact for someone who loves travelling and does so really often, I never look for a swimming pool at hotels. I think I actually avoid hotels with swimming pools. When people say “oh lets stay there its got a lovely pool”, I shudder, sigh and sink low. Self-protection, I comfort myself.

I have just one friend who doesn’t know swimming (to my knowledge, others might be hiding like me). She is scared of water. I don’t even have that excuse. I   l o v e   w a t e r.

Then why don’t I know swimming? It’s complicated. I learnt swimming as a child growing up in Pune, “till you could float” my mother says. And then one day the classes stopped. I don’t know why – I have some vague memories that the pool was dirty, or I cried too much! Soon, I was in college and still a swimming virgin. ‘Adolescence’ and ‘first time in a swimming suit’ were two opposing forces, didn’t happen. I did nothing to change it – sometimes if you aren’t actively learning something, people think you already know it. Don’t they? With every passing year, it only got worse.

Some of you out there might say, what’s the big fuss, go and learn. You’re never too old. If I was 50+, then I would be doing something maha-bold by going out there and plunging into the unknown (drown-able unknown at that). But at a ‘young’ 32, it’s not that big a challenge. That’s what you’re saying right?

I think, the fear, embarrassment and shyness about looking horribly fat in the swimming suit are factors even at 32. I might even say the pressure is way higher at 32… you have much more to lose than at 50 when anyway the battle is going the other way and the biggest fear could be that you’ll never learn! 😀

I did purchase a swimming suit three years ago and I’ve made multiple enquiries but never learnt. Everything changed when I signed up for classes on Sunday. The sudden drive? I’m off on a trip to Australia and New Zealand in 2015 and I want to be able to swim before that. And the added benefit that I might just lose weight too!

My first class was yesterday. Fortunately A was back early from office and came along with me – almost parent and child like. It was a biryani of emotions – fear, embarrassment, panic, shyness and a little bit of joy that I was finally stepping up. But the main emotion – fear! I felt more frightened than when I jumped off the cliff before paragliding. Phew…

I sympathised with all the children who were crying, shouting and screaming for their mothers. I wished I could too! The water did go into my nose; I coughed and spluttered about, I came close to telling the coach that I would never be able to. My legs were paining, they refused to kick above the surface of the water, and I just couldn’t understand how to breathe. But I loved the water. Went home relieved… I was done!

Done? hmmm… I have 15 more classes to go and today I have class in 2 hours. Those familiar signs of fear are creeping up on me as I write this post.  I know I need to learn. Just so I don’t miss out on great pools like those below…

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Happy swimming everyone!

10 thoughts on “swimming and me: lesson 1

  1. Bhavani,

    I completely identify with you.

    I don’t know to swim either.

    The Difference is I’m very uncomfortable in the water – it’s cold, I get cramps, I drown in 3 feet and I can’t breathe.

    This year I’ve planned to break this karmic cycle of avoiding the water (maybe I died drowing in one of my past lives phew!) – it’s 45 degrees hot in the North and I will be getting into the pool this weekend myself.

    So when you worry about swimming – if it helps, know that there are others out there too with the same feelings!

    Best wishes for your class today and think of the dolphins – and have fun! : )

    Happy swimming! : )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hey bags, thanks for commenting. reassuring to know that there are others out there 🙂
    all the best with you breaking away and swimming. maybe we can plan a trip to a hotel with a GREAT pool and make that our target! 🙂 (maybe visit teendu in singapore – does she have a nice pool?)


  3. I think Ashwath can also relate to this…..I remember we put him in Adyar Park Sheraton for classes and Murthy thatha who accompanied him for 2 or 3 more classes came back to say that we are really torturing the child as he kept howling in the pool…..then we stopped…..not sure if he learnt swimming later !!!…. Did he reveal anything 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. he did go back after post grad and learnt. he came yesterday and swam for the entire one hour that i had class.

    i must say he never mentioned howling in the pool – ahhh i will get him for that! 🙂


  5. Not sure if this is helpful as I am a good swimmer but when someone is immersed in water and if they keep moving their arms and legs – not spasmodically, they can’t sink. When this is done systematically, it is called treading water…sometimes it can be referred to as the doggie paddle. Movement in water will keep you afloat. This may help address the fear. Then you can tackle the technique of swimming. Swimming for me, is like being returned to the womb. I become one with my surroundings and feel light and free. Good luck and I do admire that you are facing your fears!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, Bh.. I don’t know how to swim either & love water..but it’s because I pulled in by waves in Kannur..me & my mother actually & she didn’t know how to swim either. And I tried to swim with my mother clutching onto my legs..so..ya..still go to pools..but I think I need classes. So, thank you. Maybe I will also start! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. nina, yesterday was much better. i practised breathing and so felt way more confident at the end of the lesson. today is class 3 and my coach’s expectation is that i make it across without the float. phew. but i am enjoying it… love the feeling of the water and stuck around in the pool for one more hour after class last evening… so, i can understand why you love it so.

    nishita, yeah. go out there and get that class. if not for the basics, learn some cool stroke and glide like a fish in water. i’m doing this i think more as a fitness regimen. works for me given my knees are already getting a little wonky… best exercise in the long run, or so i’ve heard!

    and both of you: thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. i love comments… 🙂


  8. hey bhavani….i learnt swimming when i was 35!! that’s the time, naman turned 5 and was about to learn swimming. i thought to myself….i would hate not being in the pool with my kids…i so wanted to be a part of all the water fun and holidays in the coming years! So got myself enrolled along with naman…..and went through all the emotions you have talked about (seems like the most daunting task ever in the beginning!). Finally, after 3 weeks I learnt how to swim underwater….but for some reason, till date, I can’t swim with my head out :(. Every year, I tell myself, that I am going to get rid of this last little fear of mine, but no luck! But despite that, am quite happy with my ‘underwater free style swimming’….at least am able to
    enjoy all the pools when we travel….and also make use of the pool in our complex! I totally agree that swimming is the best exercise in summers…….so refreshing, yet bringing in an exercise regime with it! Naman is a water baby…the best swimmer in our family of four :). Have just enrolled navya in swimming….its her second class today….and i think she too will be good at it…..making me the most basic swimmer in our family in some time! But that’s cool…happy to be in water :)). All the best for your classes…..its only going to get better and more fun!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. tanks nidhi! 🙂 its been steadily improving… and i am not that scared about the water anymore! i made my way across the pool yesterday… though, every time i had to breathe i stopped. today is the day to put it all together. fingers crossed 🙂


  10. Really nice to read this! Happy you’ve learnt it!

    Yes, both you and Bharat got such a bad cold and lung congestion. It was because of the Law College pool, where students didn’t have a proper shower before entering etc etc my mind said!!
    But I still can recall your happy face , running down to get into the pool – though your coach really made you both just kick and bring your body in level with the water level . . .
    Bharat used to hate it and I got such dirty looks from him.

    Then if you remember, I put you both in Tilak tank pool, because it was a natural pool and people said one doesn’t get cold. You went for 2 days, but I felt scared because it was deep on all sides!!
    So your swimming lessons stopped! ^_^


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