When I was a child, I almost drowned at a water park. I was in the kiddie pool when one the workers told us to go to the normal sized pool because I looked too big for the kiddie pool. I wasn’t yet big enough for the normal pools either, but that was where I had to go. I don’t remember much about the incident, but I had a black swimming tube around me and I was slowly walking in the pool. Next thing I knew, there was a drop. I didn’t know how to swim, so I just went down under the water. My parents weren’t watching me because they were in the midst of an argument, but the lifeguard saved me.
I never went to a swimming pool or a beach afterwards, but a part of me yearned to learn how to swim. I remember another vacation with my parents where my dad tried to teach me in a hotel pool. There were trust issues, and I couldn’t get out of my comfort zone in order to learn. Fast forward to adulthood and I spent quite a few days laying on a beach, but never touching the water. I was slightly embarrassed about the fact that I never learned how to swim. Something bothered me about living up to the negative stereotype of black people being unable to swim. On many occasions throughout the years I searched for adult swimming lessons but could never find any in my area.
Thinking back, I don’t know where any of the people I grew up with learned to swim. I don’t even know if they offered swimming lessons at an affordable price in my community back then. Even if they did, I probably didn’t have anyone to bring me because my parents worked a lot. On a list of priorities for our family at that time, learning how to swim probably wasn’t even on the list. Even if a family member or friend was willing to teach me, no one owned a home with a pool to do so. Unless they learned from a family member or friend, I doubt that any of the people I grew up with can swim today. My older brother learned with his friends in a coulee called “Pork Chop” that problably had more contaminants than actual water. I think my dad said he learned after his dad basically threw his brothers and him in a lake, and my mom never learned. I’m happy that things have changed and all of my nieces and nephew learned how to swim in an appropriate manner that involved lessons
What pushed me to learn how to swim were cenotes. Those things were absolutely gorgeous and I wanted to experience them the moment I saw photos of the cenotes in Tulum, Mexico. I missed an opportunity to go to the ATM caves in Belize because I couldn’t swim. Many travel packages come with surfing lessons or beach days, and I never bought them because it would be a waste of money since I couldn’t swim. It was paralyzing my travel life in so many ways.
Another search revealed a few places in my area that offered the lessons for adults. Without even thinking much about it, I registered for lessons and paid a registration fee that I thought was too expensive. It would be a week’s worth of private swim lessons after work at Crawfish Aquatics, and I was nervous and anxious about it. I didn’t expect for the techniques to be difficult. I just needed a trustworthy environment to learn and practice without judgment, so I was hoping that my instructor would be comforting and encouraging.
Before the lesson, I learned that my 8th house is in Pisces so I should be very careful around water. That didn’t give me any confidence. Nevertheless, I bought a cheap bathing suit from Walmart that didn’t hold any of my jelly, and prepared to learn. When I arrived, there was group lessons happening with children all under the age of five. Once that ended, I had my private lesson in an indoor pool alongside three other young children that also were getting lessons with a private instructor. I expected to be the only adult, and I was. It didn’t bother me one bit, and I stayed focused on myself.
My instructor was very encouraging. I had trust issues the first 10 minutes of my first lesson, but it went away quickly. We spent time getting acclimated to the water and learning to use my feet. I freestyled, tread water, and focused on breathing techniques. The lessons were short and to the point. As soon as I got the hang of something, it was time to go. I loved that.
I’m nowhere near a master swimmer, but I’m glad that I have a few techniques under my belt. I’m happy to have accomplished it. Better late than never! Now I’m about to be all over Mexico visiting the cenotes. Paddle boarding and learning how to surf. Okay, maybe I’m pushing it a bit. I encourage everyone to learn how to swim. There are so many resources out there, and many of them are free. It is an ultimate gift.