For 30 years, I have successfully managed to dodge birthday pool parties, avoid weekend invites to the lake, and weasel out of spending any of my afternoons floating down the river on innertubes. This was and always has been my normal. I’ve never understood why people enjoyed jumping into large vats of water alongside a series of random strangers, who you may or may not have seen before around the neighborhood. Getting water splashed in my face was more of a hazard to my contact lenses than it was of any entertainment to me—and let’s not even talk about the dried out, frizzy, rat’s nest that becomes my hair afterwards. But while it’s easy for me to come up with any excuse in the world to get out of joining in on these aquatic activities, truth-be-told it’s kind of an important life skill that every person should know. So now, I’ve decided it’s time to take the plunge—and dive head first into what has always been one of my biggest fears… This Summer, I am finally going to learn how to swim!
Aside that dramatic intro, I love how easy I seem to make this whole excursion sound—when, in fact, I’ll surely be one of the greatest challenges my future swim teacher has ever faced. I’m going to be their Moby Dick, their Great White Buffalo, or any other animal that symbolizes some sort of impossible feat. I’m telling you-- if all this ends in success, people will be singing their praises for years to come. I’m not kidding—those who’ve attempted to teach me how to swim in the past can attest—I am, what you might call, a “special case.” Of course, it doesn’t help that I was kicked in the face as a kid while hanging out at the pool with my Aunt. I just remember falling backwards and looking up as I sunk further and further down under the water. The only thing I knew how to do at that point was hold my breath, so that’s exactly what I did—luckily my Aunt jumped in soon after to pull me out. Unfortunately, that was all it took for my body to lose all buoyancy abilities for good! Just kidding…. but not really.
Honestly, it’s not that I never wanted to know how to tread water or travel to a side of the pool deeper than 5 feet, it’s just never been a possibility for me. I sink. And when I say I sink, I mean I’ve tried to learn how to swim about 7 different times in my life, and the farthest I’ve ever come to floating is on my back. This was thanks to my 8th grade swim teacher who, by the way, was missing half a pointer finger on his right hand after a bad encounter with a shark, had made it his definitive goal to get me to swim before the year was over. Well…that was back in 2001—my swim teacher’s final words to me on the last day of school were, “whelp, if you fall in, just roll over on your back—hopefully you’ll float.” Thanks, Teach! From there, I’ve had various family members, friends, and even friends of friends try their hand at getting me to become one with the water… and sadly I’ve failed them all. I might as well have concrete for feet.
So, what, you ask, is stopping me from just throwing in the towel on this whole juncture? Well, it could be the harsh truth in knowing they don’t sell arm floaties for adults, and my niece isn’t willing to share hers anymore—Or-- how it might be a lot harder for me to catch a Summer tan if I’m wearing a life jacket in my backyard pool. There is, of course, the realization of how lame any island vacations might be if I can’t go snorkeling, try surfing, or swim with the dolphins. Not to mention, If I’m traveling on an airplane that has to do an emergency water landing—I’m screwed! I’ve seen Tom Hanks in Sully—I know what’s up. These are the things I think about when deciding whether swimming is worth another shot or not. So, with that, beyond any reasonable doubt, I have decided to ultimately check this one off my bucket list and permanently say goodbye to those Dora the Explorer arm floaties for good. But don’t worry—I’ll be documenting my progress along the way—because trust me, this will be entertaining. Okay then, *takes a deep breath* here goes nothing…