Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Human Movement Through Water Revisited

I'm a quitter.

I'm learning the Butterfly but have no confidence in success. My swim classmates are picking it up easily and I am still being given the drills of just the arms or the kick. It's a difficult stroke and I am frustrated by my lack of ability to perform it even remotely correctly. So I quit. I am a quitter.

In the middle of the lane, there I am, treading water, scanning the pool deck to check if Donald is watching so I can just finish the lap with breaststroke instead.

This is not a formula for success, I assure you, but unfortunately it is sometimes my modis operandi. First sign of frustration, I become a quitter with a capital K. Then eventually, I take a deep breath and struggle through the little tiny details and mechanics of the steps toward the correct outcome. And then like magic, it somehow becomes easy.

I don't think it will happen with the 'fly' but I hold a nano-nugget of optimism. It's floating around my head somewhere, along with the well of untapped determination to conquer this completely unnecessary stroke.

Sometimes quitting is a good strategy. It gives you distance from the problem in order to find a solution. The trick is remembering to un-quit though as soon as possible. I am not ready to tackle the fly yet though. I'd like to stick to perfecting my breaststroke that has just recently improved. I don't need the fly for the lifeguard testing, but the breast is a requirement. I may remain a quitter on the fly, sorry to say.

These are 'problems' I never thought I'd have where swimming was concerned. As I've navigated the treachery of the YMCA pool, and become a legitimate 'fast lane' swimmer, I've realized that I want to be in the water all the time.

After stumbling upon the beauty of the ASU student rec center pool, it became all the more clear that the career change I needed no longer involved a desk or a 9-5 program. I needed to be outside, near chlorinated water features as soon as humanly possible. The research began in earnest.

The first order of business was whether or not I would need to move to Arizona and attend ASU for the rest of my life in order to swim in that beautiful and bewitching pool. It was that blissful. It called to me; my precious.

But the reality was, the thought of moving away from the beloved city of Los Angeles (my other precious) filled me with dread and anxiety. I don't like dread and anxiety all that well. So on to plan B; find a 50-meter competition pool that can substitute right here. You know, where I already live. (Which by the way, isn't say, Paducah, Kentucky so it's not that tall of an order. But man, that ASU pool had powers I tell ya!)

The first find was the Santa Monica Swim Center. It's a popular place. The class I attended contained no less than 40 or 50 people sharing four lanes and one instructor doling out the most basic of information. I left without confirmation or denial of my technique. The cost was high and the distance far. It was not to be.

Then I found the City pool. Chock full of serious lap swimmers, always conscious of lane etiquette, close to home and two bucks with a library card, this one had potential. (Run-on sentence anyone?) I swam there a couple of times but there weren't any classes where someone could tell me if my flip turns were even being executed properly. They did have lifeguard training programs though but still more research was needed.

I started telling my tale to others and the words LA Valley College were uttered. I protested. The initial research had alluded that this pool was not open to the public. But I went back to Google to ask again.

LAVC it turns out is ready and available to assist you and yours with all kinds of water activity needs. I went to investigate.

Could it rival my precious? Could it even try? I doubted.

I met the teacher and spoke of my feats of pool strength; 120 laps nearly nightly. (Yes, that's non-stop in the questionable YMCA cess-pool) I did not have confidence that this would be the place; I was sure I'd have to keep looking but I signed up anyway.

You know how it ends from here. It's where this story started. LAVC isn't ASU but it's a close second; truly a hidden gem. And Donald has inspired and effected improvements in my freestyle, taught me a continually evolving backstroke; declared me a strong swimmer and ready to tackle the lifeguard training.

What I've learned the most is that I am through with the manufactured crises of the media business where lives aren't being saved and chests aren't being cut open, (although you'd think that was what was happening) in exchange for a career where life saving is truly an actual possibility. I am focused and determined now. I feel as though I have found a purpose and one where I also posses two key factors; a love for it and keen ability.

I vow not to quit.