I was reading Wendy's post about facing your fears. One of my biggest fears is water. Don’t get me wrong. I bathe and everything like that. It’s bodies of water that I tend to stay away from. Then, of course, there’s the whole bathing suit issue. That in itself is freaking scary. But back to the water issue. Growing up we didn’t go to the lake very often. In fact, I think we went twice. My parents couldn’t afford to pay for swimming lessons so I didn’t learn how to swim in either case. There was a town pool that I went to a few times, but mainly to sun bathe. If I did go in the water, it was only at the shallow end.
My high school had an indoor pool, and for some reason, it was a requirement to learn how to swim to graduate. Why they thought this was a necessity, I’ll never know. The pool looked huge to me. Maybe not Olympic size, but still. Big. Freakin' big to a non-swimmer.
I absolutely HATED those nine weeks of swimming. It wasn’t bad if it was the last class of the day, but if it was the first – it was tough to get your hair just so in the five minutes you had to change before the bell rang. We had to wear swimming caps (this is a LONG time ago) and we’d use all different tricks, like putting our hair up in a rubber band, then put a plastic bag on our head, then Vaseline around the edge of our face, then finally the cap. The Vaseline was used to create a “seal” so as not to let any water inside the cap. Maybe if we had these bathing caps, they would have worked better.
Or at least take the attention away from the sad state of affairs of the bathing suits. We had to grab whatever suit was available, and usually they were too large and often had holes in them. We had to cleverly tie knots in them to prevent body parts from falling out. It was a real bummer if there was a fire drill during swimming. You HAD to go outside, wrapped in a towel. It was SO embarrassing. Could you imagine? AND the boys swam in the NUDE. Yes, absolutely true. Now THAT is embarrassing! I’m sure there was a LOT of shrinkage involved!
Hmmm, where was I? Sorry, I had visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. Oh, yeah, swim class. We were excused from swimming if we had our “friend”. Sometimes our “friend” visited us more than once a month. The teachers didn’t seem to notice. We could sit on the bleachers and do our homework, or just sit and gossip, while the other poor saps had to get wet.
Wednesdays were “Free Swim” days where we could do whatever we wanted in the water. One day I took a small kickboard and kicked around the pool. Somehow the board got away from me and I was in deeper water than I anticipated. I started going under and a classmate came to the rescue. She put her arm expertly under my chin and towed me to safety. I stayed close to the 3 feet after that.
I was in the Beginner’s Class. To pass the class I had to jump into the 9 foot section, swim to the 5 foot, turn over, and do the back stroke all the way back to the 9 foot again. I was scared out of my mind. I had no choice but to take the test. I put my nose plug on (what a looker I was) took a deep breath, said a silent prayer and jumped in. Amazingly I passed the test! I thought it was the end of my swimming days.
Unfortunately, this meant the next year I was put into Advanced Beginners. Oh-ho, we’re moving up now. Mrs. Ditmer, the gym teacher, had us all line up on the side of the pool, from 9 feet down to 5 feet. She told us to count off 1, 2, 3, 4….1, 2, 3, 4…..1, 2, 3, 4….etc. I was a number 1. Then she told all the number 1’s to get into the water. Did I mention that I forgot my nose plug? Yeah. So I’m shaking like a hairless Chihuahua on a cold winter night I’m so scared and I get in the water. Mrs. Ditmer tells us to tread the water. Sooo, I’m treading the water. My head is above water, I’m not drowning, life is good. She comes walking along the side of the pool and tells me that I’m treading water the wrong way. That I need to spread my arms out more. Well I’m thinking, “hey, it’s working, isn’t it?” But, I listen to her and start doing it the way she tells me to. Suddenly, I start to go under water. Then I begin to panic. My heart is pounding. I start coughing. Save myself, I think! So I grab the heads of the girls on either side of me and PUSH THEM DOWN to help me up out of the water! Yeah. You don’t ever want to be around me on a boat if it goes over. It's every woman for herself. Mrs. D had to get the big hook out for the drowning sissy girl in the pool. Funny how I don’t remember anything else from that swim class. It’s all a blur to me.
So being how I almost drowned twice, I definitely am afraid of water. I don’t even like walking near the deep end of the pool. If I go to the ocean, I will only walk in MAYBE up to my waist. I am so afraid of the waves. I was afraid of tsunamis even before they were popular. When we camp near the ocean, I lie awake at night worrying that a big tsunami is going to come and wash us all away. Do you think I have issues or what?
I envy people who can just dive into the pool and swim laps. I just don’t think it will ever be me. Or at least in this lifetime. Unless I miraculously turn into one of these.