This past Saturday, I got into a swimming pool for the first time in, I dunno, 15 years.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m a runner, and runners say swimming is great for cross-training and injury prevention. I’ve been ambivalent about the idea. I took lessons when I was little, but I haven’t had a reason to put on a bathing suit since high school, I don’t think I’ve ever done proper laps, and the idea of just showing up at a local pool and trying to fit in seemed ill-advised.
But yeah, okay, fine, self-betterment and all, pushing comfort zones, let’s give it a shot. I signed up for an adult beginner swim class.
I showed up at the first class expecting a patronizing instructor to talk a group of us through putting our heads in the water. Instead, the teacher told me to “hop in and show me what you can do.” Ehh? I am taking a beginner class because I can’t do much of anything, right?
Obediently, I performed a spastic crawl stroke from one end of the pool to the other, and I stood panting on the deep end platform for a couple minutes. Breathing in water is hard, man.
“That was good!” the instructor, Deena, told me once I’d flailed back to the shallow end.
[pant pant pant] “Uh,” [gasp pant] “thank you,” I panted. “How do you” [pant pant] “breathe” [gasp] “so you get enough air” [pant] “while your head’s out of the water?”
“This is gonna sound silly,” Deena said, “but you’ve gotta breathe everything out while your head’s still underwater, so when your head is above water and you take a breath, you are ONLY breathing in. Don’t waste your above-water time with out-breaths.”
“Oh,” I said.
“What are your goals for this class?” Deena asked.
I hadn’t thought about that. “Uh,” I said. “Be… able… to do laps?”
“So, like, work on your stroke, endurance, distance?”
“Yes? Yes. That.”
So Deena gave me a kickboard, and I did laps, and it was glorious.