I haven’t joined in with #MagicMoments over the summer, I just had to step back and enjoy my last summer with Monkey before he starts school on Wednesday. But something happened on Friday night, something that for me is such a huge personal Magic Moment – swimming success.
As regular readers will know, I’ve been learning to swim over the last few months. You need to understand my total terror of water. It’s taking time, but I’ve come such a long way. This is the woman who hadn’t put her face in the water, ever, 5 months ago.
I can now swim half a length of breast stroke in one go, I can put my face in the water, goggles are fab!, I can do back stroke for half a length – love it, I am still struggling with front crawl. But the deep end – getting out of my depth – brings panic, I struggle to breathe, it has seemed to be totally beyond me.
I’d not been swimming for 3 weeks, Daddy P had taken a week off with us, I had an issue with my eye and then we had the dreaded lurgy. So I went back on Friday night, pretty much expecting to be useless. 3 weeks for me and my brain is a lifetime. Yep, front crawl – just not happening. So I decided, I could either continue with that and get more depressed as the evening went on or stick with breast stroke. I decided on the later, I wanted to get my limited confidence back and just feel better in the water again.
So I spent half the lesson doing just that, and I could see progress, swimming breast stroke away from the ropes and edge of the pool. I could see that I might be able to go a little over half way. But I stopped at the point I knew I’d be on tiptoes. The deep end of the pool might as well have been a million miles away.
I was thrilled for my friend E. He had come on so well in the 3 weeks I’d missed. He was swimming lengths. I was so happy for him, he started lessons before me and we’ve really helped each other through our swimming lessons. Wow! Well done E.
Then half way through the lesson our instructor decided it was time to challenge me and C. Time to go down the deep end – time to tread water. We both have water issues, we both felt sick. I could feel my heart rate increasing. Ok, I want you to hold your arms by your sides, legs straight and go under the water and hold your breath. You will bob. Ok, that’s like telling me to bury myself alive. I tried a number of times, for me I did quite well, even if only for a couple of seconds! The whole idea of being completely under water terrifies me. But treading water, I could do that. Ok, I was scared beyond belief when I could see myself drifting from the safety of the edge. Heart rate increases, feeling sick. Right Mary, you can swim, you can lean over in the water and reach out for the side of the pool. You can do this, my instructor said. You really can. Ok, can I? I( could do it easily in my depth, please brain stop working! Let me do this. I flipping well did it! It was a start. Ok, I wasn’t far away from the edge, but far enough not to be able to grab it. I tried it again and again. Yes, I’d made another huge step forward.
I thought that would be it for the session. No, I was wrong. Right Mary, I’m taking you to the end of the pool, you are going to swim all the way back. You can do this. What? No! Trust me, you can do this. I am right here, I will help you if you struggle, but you won’t, you can swim. Thank god they don’t have cameras in the pool. There’s me right at the end of the pool. Hanging on to the side with one hand, ok how do I get that arm out front to swim without drowning? I can’t do this. Yes, you can!! How about treading water and then going? Yes, try that. Could I do it? Treading water right at the deep end? Yes I did, and then I was swimming! I was swimming in the deepest end of the pool. Keep going Mary, don’t stop, get to the end, complete the length.
I was flipping knackered when I touched that wall, but I’d blooming well done it, I had swum a whole length, for the first time in my life. I had swum from the deep end for the first time in my life. My fellow learners were clapping, my teacher high-fived me and yes, me being me, I burst into tears. This swimming success has been something I’ve dreamed of since Monkey was born. Something I honestly, truly, never thought I’d be able to do. For me, it’s my Mount Everest. Daddy P doesn’t really get it, if he’d known me 20 years ago he really, really would.
It’s just the beginning, I have to do it again, but I’m hoping my brain will fully compute by next Friday’s lesson that I’ve done it once, I can do it again. I need to work on the breathing, work on the technique, but swimming success is in my sights. Real progress, and as a nice, total aside, I achieved my swimming success on my hero’s birthday – so, yes, in true James Hunt style, I celebrated when I got home!
If you can’t swim and have young children, I really, really hope that this post might give you the confidence to overcome your fears. Find out if there are adult swimming lessons in your area and book them! Honestly, you are not alone, people of all ages come together and the support you find is awesome. If I can get to this point at the age of 46, having not even ever been able to blow bubbles in the water until very recently – then anyone can do it. It’s never to late to learn and will open up a whole new world for me and my son in the years to come. It’s a life skill that we all should have.