How I Faced My Fear of the Water, a Mother’s Story
As a young child, I can remember I loved to swim in the pool or the lake whatever I could get to first. My fascination with diving into a 2-foot pool was never ending, and to this day I still love the initial dive into the deep end. However, I can remember a day when swimming was frightening the year I had almost drown, and my cousin saved me. It took quite some time before I would even go near the water after that sunny afternoon in the Palm Beach County public pool. However, I knew after becoming a parent, and I would have to do something to overcome this fear eventually. Here’s how it all happened.
I’ll back up to tell you I was a pre-teen when I came close to drowning in the community pool. I could no longer keep paddling and was getting extremely tired when I felt my body become heavy and start to sink. There was nothing near me to grab onto, and I didn’t feel comfortable trying to float on my back. After bobbing twice, the water seemed to be more like quicksand, until a hand reached for me and dragged me to the safety of a rubber raft. Choking and eyes enlarged, I swore I would never step foot in the pool again.
Once I became a mother with a child who equally loved to be in or near the water just as I did, I knew I had better do something to ease my fears. So, I booked swimming lessons at the local YWCA, and there I was. Unfortunately, there were no adult swimming classes, so I had to take the beginners class with all the children. Here I was standing in my conservative one piece with all these wet little munchkins surrounding me at the edge of the Olympic pool. Much to my surprise, the coach who taught the classes was more like a drill sergeant and quite brash. Immediately he picked me out of the crowd of kids. Perhaps it was my height that gave it away? Nonetheless, it was at this point that he singled me out amongst my short little peers. “Ma’am, parents aren’t supposed to be in this area. You have to wait outside”. He pointed to the window where you could see the other moms and dads peeping. It was then that I had to muster enough courage without embarrassing myself in front of the other participants. I spoke sheepishly, “I’m not here as a parent,” I said with my head hanging down. “I’m here to learn how to swim.” The instructor quickly replied back “come with me” and motioned for me to follow him.
I quickly followed him with my arms crossed and my bathing suit strap bouncing with my every step. I realized the instructor was heading down toward the diving board which was in 9 ft of water. I was anxious anticipating what would be next all the while knowing this was over my head. I assumed he was going to separate me from the other children although he did not. In fact, he announced, “Can I get your attention, please? Mrs. Weston has agreed to go first class to show you how simple swimming can be”.
As I shook my head nodding no, he grabbed the rescue pole hanging on the wall and then asked me to step onto the diving board. I had no choice, as I looked on the face of every kid in there smiling and eager to learn. As I looked at each child, I was reminded of my daughter. As I was getting closer to the end of the diving board with every step, I felt my heart pounding with nerves. I stopped, and the panic surfaced. It was at that point, my diving board instructor took the long rescue pole and pushed me in!
At first, I was scared, but I started to look around while I was deep and found a peace and tranquil environment down there. For some reason, everything came back to me, and I looked to find the surface. Once I could see the water top, I remembered how to use my arms and legs kicking and moving until I reached the top. Although I did the doggy paddle to the ladder, I could hear the children clapping as they all watched me prevent myself from sinking.
In conclusion, never be afraid to learn how to swim, no matter what your age. You’ll be happy knowing your life entails swimming until your heart’s content. It was for my daughter that I overcame the fear and today we still enjoy our favorite place, which is our backyard pool.
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