Nov 15, 2011

A Reconciliation.

     This post is about a reconciliation.  Not about the kind where you kneel behind the screen and start out “forgive me Father for I have sinned..” although that is my favorite type of reconciliation. This is about a very wet reconciliation. A kind that took years. It has a history. And I think it all started when my mother, taken aback at my dad’s lack of swimming form, swore that all her kids would know how to swim well. Not survival swim, but know all the strokes and look pretty doing it. Lucky for her, the navy life provided swim lessons..thank you MWR Aquatics. Little did I know that organization would soon be a huge part of my future, but you don’t want to hear that story right now. So my siblings and I spent our summers mornings {think 7:30 am} at swim lessons. I hated them. The water was freezing. I always had weird teachers {now that I teach swim lessons, I’m wondering if my student’s think I am weird?!} The classes seemed to go on forever. I just wanted to play Marco-Polo & doggy paddle. In the end, we all learned how to swim. We all survived the embarrassment of being the only 15 year old whose mother still insisted on swim lessons. I think at some point I even spent a bit of time on one of the local swim teams & I really hated that. It was like swim lessons on steroids. I had an aversion to exercise as a child.

     Despite such aversions, I was somehow forced convinced to try out for our high school swim team. Now most high schools kindly protect the self-esteem of all their students, but Maury High was a bit different. Maury’s swim team was their pride & joy and most of the kids on the team had been swimming on the local USAA {competitive swimming} swim teams since they could walk. I spent a couple of months conditioning with the team & trying to keep up. What I had in stroke form, I certainly lacked in endurance. The coach pulled me aside before try-out’s even occurred to reassure me that while I would have been a top swimmer at any other Norfolk high school, I was no Maury Swimmer. I picked up what she was putting down. Somebody with more ambition might have been disappointed or upset or embarrassed but remember friends: I wasn’t too keen on swimming or exercise. So I said goodbye to my much faster, better friends on the swim team and forwent the 5 am swim practices.

     My short stint with the swim team wasn't the end of my rocky relationship with the swimming pool, though. When I was a junior in high school, my parents reminded me that I needed to get a job that summer. Well, we lived across from a MWR pool, I had grown up there, the lifeguards were always good looking & glamorous & my sister had worked there too. So one day after school, me & my pal Whitney went to take the eligibility swim for a lifeguarding class. It was a 50 m. pool & we had to swim a 500 m to get into the class. This is not a long distance for a swimmer, merely a warm-up, but to two 16 year old girls who just wanted a cool job, it seemed impossible. Both of us finished, although not without gross consequences that I will spare you the details of. We both got into the lifeguarding class and tried not to act too immature during the CPR lessons. Every class we had to swim again & it was torture & laden fear of not finishing & being kicked out of the class. Besides, I couldn’t figure out what all this swimming had to do with lifeguarding anyways. I never saw lifeguards swim! They only stood around, twirling their whistle, looking great in red.

     Upon becoming a lifeguard, I found out that lifeguards do, in fact, swim. Not only did we have to swim to make rescues, but we had to swim at our monthly in-services and were supposed to be swimming on a weekly basis in order to continually improve. Every single in-service, before we swam, I would have mini panic attacks & a tumultuous stomach..sure that I would not finish and lose my job. By the grace of God & my strong-ish legs, I always finished. And obviously, I didn’t lose my job. But it didn’t change how I felt about swimming. And those weekly swims we were supposed to be doing? Yeah, call me insubordinate.

     I did outgrow my aversion to exercise though, at some point in college, and I began to like running. After a bit of research, I learned the incredible benefits of swimming. I worked at a pool. I was supposed to be swimming weekly. The pieces just fit. Begrudgingly, I began to swim at work. My endurance was still lacking for any distance longer than 800 meters but I kept plugging away. Somewhere in those couple of years, I became certified as a swim instructor. It was that class that helped me refine my strokes & improve my endurance. And I tell’s amazing how much more you like something when you are actually kind of good at it. It didn’t actually hit me until recently that I enjoy swimming. While I had improved and liked the work-out, I still complained about how boring swimming was, how I hated being cold & wet, whine whine whine. A couple of days ago, while at work, I dove in to the deep end & started swimming. Instead of the shock of the cool water, I thought it felt good. And as I did my flip turn after the first 50 meters, I was surprised at how natural it felt. Suddenly, I loved the quiet of lap swimming, the silence of the bubbles seen underwater. No ear buds in my ears like when I run. When it was time for me to stop, I wished I had more time. Recently when I wake up, I find myself looking forward to my swim. What was happening to me?! Why was I getting all sentimental about a work out?! Was I one of those weird swimmer people now?! Maybe my swim cap is too tight….

     But it is true..I love swimming. And don’t let this blog post fool you. While I wouldn’t mind seeing Maury' High School’s swim coach & showing her a thing or two..I’m pretty sure I actually look like this while I’m in the water:

Pinned Image

{Image from Pinterest..obviously. Where did you think I found an elephant to photograph, friends?!}

     Shocking, I know. A story about a lifeguard who likes to swim. Truly stimulating wonder y’all keep coming around. But I just thought everyone should know. I’ve made my peace with the water. Swimming and I are forever reconciled.

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