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…
Happy swimming everyone!