Beth showed me how to “swim” by rotating my hips from side to side with a freestyle kick. At first she turned my hips for me and I let her float me as I turned from my hips, torso, and shoulders — except my head stayed still as my eyes focused on the center line below me. I blew bubbles through my nose and came up for air when I needed it.
The movements clicked. I could do the freestyle kick on my side and I was moving through the water. I was so excited and kept asking, “Can I try it one more time?” I tried it on my left side, on my right. I was so excited, this felt like swimming (without the breathing). I felt like Beth was excited for me too. I didn’t want to stop.
Beth tried having me move my arms too, keeping my hands and forearms soft instead of tense. The arm and hand movements were harder for me to coordinate, but I promised myself I would keep practicing this. Beth helped me see that I was moving my upper arm too soon (one hand should be in the imaginary box above my head before I move the other). The challenges with my arms didn’t diminish my excitement over learning to swim on my side.
After last week’s lesson I went home to my art studio and painted a boneless little mermaid, a reminder to keep my arms loose, to stay comfortable in the water like a mermaid in her element.
In practice this past week, I tried to imitate real swimmers, moving my arms more like a “classic” swim stroke. It made me move faster and felt great. But I wished I knew how to breathe without standing up, like a real swimmer. I couldn’t wait to practice this side kicking stuff.
Just as my lesson was ending, a tiny girl entered the poolroom and ran to Beth, her father trailing her. She looked like the littlest Who of all in Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas — except in a miniature wetsuit vest and swimsuit. She hugged Beth like she had known her for years. Beth bent down and asked, “Are you ready for your first lesson?”
First lesson? That was an attitude! It was a delight watching this child’s eagerness to get in the pool. She showed zero anxiety. Within a few minutes Beth floated the toddler across the pool. The girl grinned and laughed the whole way. She seemed as natural as a little mermaid.
I thought that’s how I want to approach my lesson, my swim practice — with absolute joy and trust.
Dear Shoney: Once a wise sage told me to always begin any new experience with enthusiasm. The vibration in the energy is much higher than that with doubt and fear. ~Beth