Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chlorine - It's What's For Breakfast

I've been lap swimming in earnest for over three years now but a year ago I took it to the next level; going to a class with a teacher. Part of that motivation to attend a class was the goal to obtain a Red Cross lifeguard certification. (The other part was to get away from the noobs at the YMCA pool who kept running in to me) I can't say enough great things about my teacher. Even though I am doing the work, he is equally invested in my success. (He even changed my flat tire a few weeks ago!) But that's not what this is about.

Let's keep focus on the beginnings of being taught. I could not backstroke. I was good at the front crawl. My side stroke was pretty decent although rarely a stroke that's used or cared about. And the breast stroke was passable even though I was aware that it needed tweaking. The butterfly was simply not a stroke I thought I'd ever care to learn or add to my repertoire, as you know if you've read these posts.

Unlike learning the backstroke, the first attempts at the fly were misery inducing. I am admittedly a perfectionist, and so not being able to even propel forward while attempting to fling my arms over my head and dolphin kick was the most frustrating thing I had experienced in the pool. We only tried it once; without even saying anything Donald knew it was too soon and we'd have to scale back. Way back. 

Instead we flutter kicked on our backs, on our fronts, worked the arms over and over for that harder-than-it-looks breast stroke. I learned the proper backstroke method; it's now better than my front crawl. I worked on the feet first surface dive until I could make it down to the 13 foot bottom. I learned what streamlining was from the swim club coaches yelling it at their teams and I practiced that (it's a dolphin kick). Mile after mile we swam anything and everything but that fly. 

A month ago, Donald threw in fly arm drills. To my surprise it wasn't that hard to wrap my brain around. And then it was a 100 yard drill of the actual fly. It came easily, not perfect, but I was moving. And like most things rote learning is best. I never expected to be able work this stroke out but here I am. I can do the fly.

I've accomplished a lot of things actually in these last two years that I never thought would be possible to achieve both in and out of the water. And I give all that credit to the water. 
The water absolutely saved me.

It gave me control over my wounded and mechanically failing body. It built my strength. Then that strength and control gave me the will to be emotionally happier because it gave me the purest joy. And that gave me courage to change, to be better and have goals that were new. 

I will never be an Olympic athlete  but I now hold a Red Cross Lifeguard Certification, which includes CPR and First Aid. I can literally save lives. Which will probably come in handy someday, I'm sure.
The water saved me and continues to do so even when I don't want to learn silly strokes like the fly.