A New Hobby

Swimming lesson number One

Hello Friend,

Hmmmmm. Was this someone’s idea of a joke? This was supposed to be a heated pool. The sign says so. The water says no. It’s just before nine o’clock. My swimming lesson starts in ten minutes, and I don’t think this pool will be warm enough in time.

I withdraw my toe from the water, the big one on the right, my testing toe, and look around. In the sectioned off other half of the pool a woman was doing laps, another tread water, and a man’s head bolted out of the water at equal intervals as he crossed to the other side.

I revised my thinking. Someone has a seriously different idea than me of what a heated pool should feel like.

I decided to learn to swim since I now have the time, being retired and all. I have never learned how despite living right next to a river, in which we played, when I was a child. Maybe we were not allowed to try to swim because there were piranha and water snakes in those waters. At that time, we lived in Orealla, an Amerindian village in South America.

The presence of those critters did not matter to the Amerindians because the river was an integral part of their lives. It provided water for cooking, drinking, washing and it was how they got from one place to the next. Swimming was second nature to them, but not for us city transplants.

This spa-like pool is in a Health and Wellness center. Its clear water is housed within Caribbean blue tiles, aiming to give the illusion of being at the beach no doubt. No murky water, no piranha, no snakes, no slimy things that bump your leg and make you scream. Thank goodness for civilization.

I had all the proper equipment: swimsuit, goggles, swim cap and pool noodles. I also had the will to swim.

It took me many, many minutes to get to chest height in that heated water. The young woman who taught me (tried to teach me would be a better phrase) just slipped right in without even a gasp.

I watched her graceful moves as she pushed off the wall with her streamlined body and showed me what I was supposed to do. My flapping to stay afloat and keep my head above water stood in stark contrast to her. Swim boards and noodles helped a little, very little. I just prayed that there were no cameras catching all this, considering that they are everywhere these days. But if there were, then someone was having a good laugh somewhere. Maybe they would spew their coffee if they did laugh.

I found out that I do not have a tolerance for water in my nose and mouth. And the stifling feeling that goes with it. Goggles and a swim cap protected the rest of me, or it could have been worse. (How did that Little Mermaid manage with all that hair and not end up in a tangled mess?)

I have advanced to floater. I give myself an A for effort. I give my instructor a gold medal for having the patience of Job.

This is one of those cases where the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Someday I might be swimming laps and raising my head up and down in rhythm, but for now, the hot tub is my friend.

Now there’s a place where there is no question about what heated means.