After reading Looney's blog about his SF bay swim, I decided to write my experience with swimming. When I was a girl, every summer we went to visit my grandparents in southern Utah. One summer we learned that swimming lessons were being offered in the neighboring town at a motel pool. My mother enrolled us kids in the class, and each morning a bus would come to get us and take us to the class. That part of Utah is quite chilly in the morning, but I would board the bus in my homemade swimming suit, and carrying a towel.
I was terrified of water, but the instructor had us hold on to the edge of the pool and pull ourselves around the entire edge of the pool in the water, passing under the diving board. I literally had to work to not let myself panic as we passed through deep water. It was so cold that I would shiver the entire class. I remember getting a stitch in my side often too. I think the class lasted for a couple of weeks, but I really didn't learn how to swim.
When I was a couple of years older, I was invited to a birthday party at a local community pool. I made sure to keep in water where I could touch bottom and still keep my head above water. But as I was inching my way along in the pool, some girls floated by on a huge inflatable thing. There were at least half a dozen girls hanging on to it and floating in the pool. They didn't see me, and accidentally floated over the top of me. I went under and did all I could to fight through the legs to get up out of the water. I have a distinct memory of seeing legs all around me, and of hitting at them to get out from under the floatie. Then I passed out...
The next thing I remember is a girl pulling me up out of the water, and me wiping water out of my eyes. The lifeguard saw none of this, so I really credit her with saving my life. I still continued to try to learn to swim, but that experience really did affect me. I never got over my fear of deep water. I did learn to float on my back well, so I knew that in an emergency, I could at least do that.
When I was newly married, and pregnant with my first child, I decided that once and for all I was going to learn how to swim. I signed up for a swim class at BYU. The teacher required that we swim a certain number of miles during the semester. One day, near the end of the class, I was swimming my laps when the teacher walked by. She said to me, "Seeing you swim now makes my job all worth it." I guess I was a pretty bad swimmer when I started the class.
I am still not really a strong swimmer. I still don't really have the knack of breathing when swimming, and tend to swallow a lot of water in the process. But I can swim several different strokes. I still have my fear of deep water, but I can control my mind and swim in deep water when needed. I have worked really hard to not pass on my fear of deep water to my children, and they all have become pretty good swimmers, and one even worked as a lifeguard last summer. I wish I had a pool where I could swim regularly because it really is great exercise!