My parents put me in swimming lessons when I was in elementary school, but unfortunately, the chlorine in public pools was too harsh on my skin at the time, and my Mom eventually had to withdraw me from my lessons just before making it to Level 3. As I grew older, I wanted to learn, but overcoming the “shame” of learning how to swim as a teenager was too much for fifteen-year-old me. This past fall, I enrolled myself in adult swimming lessons. I bought a one-piece and a set of goggles and braced myself for embarrassment. I was shaking like a leaf on my first lesson.
I went to 17 of my 20 lessons and I can now make it to the end of a pool without panicking (most of the time). This really isn’t a great feat, but it’s more than I could’ve done 17 lessons ago. If I’ve learned anything from forcing myself to go to swimming lessons in minus 20 degree weather, it’s that you should never let your pride, idleness or fear get in the way of learning new things. Yes, I swallowed lots of water and probably looked hilarious struggling to come up for air, but that’s really okay. I give myself a good laugh thinking about it. My strokes are not perfect, and I still can’t float very well, but with practice, I hope to one day be able to swim… and not just to simply prevent myself from drowning, but to swim well and with confidence.
I decided to take swimming lessons because of my Mom. I choose to do a lot because of her. She was always learning. In the last five years of her life she went back to school just to brush up on her Spanish, to learn French and Mandarin, and even became certified to teach ESL. I remember watching her doing her assignments after work, and diligently going to her classes. I respected her so much for her desire to learn and for her commitment to working hard. I hope to apply the same kind of perseverance towards the the things that remain on my list of things to learn.