As I contemplate the next season – summer, I think of summers past. When I was a little girl, my family would go to the YMCA and my two older brothers took swimming lessons. As there is no shallow end in a YMCA pool, I clung to the ladder.
Several years later, we were in between houses and at a Family Conference in Harvey Cedars, NJ. Somehow my mother convinced the powers that be to allow us to stay an extra week at the end of the season until our new house was ready. It was pretty boring with all the families gone and only the staff left. My brothers and I would hang out on the dock by the ocean. They could swim. I could not. They would splash, swim and play in the water. I would sit on the dock with my feet in the water, which was my only recourse. They (being boys and older brothers) would tell me that there were crabs, lobsters and biting fish in the water and the only way to keep from becoming fish bait was to continually kick my feet. It was too hot not to have my feet in the water so I kicked and splashed and kicked and splashed until I was literally exhausted, not to mention petrified of a who-knows-what bite.
When we finally moved into our new home, my family joined a country club within walking distance. I’d show up early every day watching the neighborhood kids having swimming lessons. From observation and sheer determination, I taught myself to tread water, do the backstroke and sort of do the crawl.
I’m not sure why I was never provided swimming lessons. I’ve asked my mother recently. She doesn’t really remember except she thinks I was too young for lessons at the Y and that money was tight after buying their new house. I’m not going to go there. . .
We lived two hours from the Jersey shore, had friends with pools and were members of a country club. What does anyone else entering those teen years do? I faked it! I could hold my own. I excelled at sun-bathing! I knew just how far to go into the ocean. I knew about and respected the undercurrent. I knew which pools had that step around the deep end. It was never a problem. I just compensated.
It wasn’t until my own kids took swimming lessons – I made sure of it! – that I learned one was actually supposed to open their eyes when swimming underwater!
Much later, married, with two elementary school aged children, we bought a house with a big in-ground swimming pool. Apparently I over-compensated in my own mind! But it worked out. I had strict pool rules which were adhered to by all. It became a gathering place for my kids’ friends, which was the intent. And best of all, no one drowned!
Thankfully, we’ve moved. No more pool of our own. Now, with grandchildren, at anyone’s pool where I’m participating, I’m more than careful. Multiple kids in a pool mean multiple adults. If I needed to, in my self-taught way, I could “swim” under pressure. Floaties on my grand-kids, however, are my friends!
Recently, part of my family relocated to Florida where apparently “everyone” has their own pool. I promised them if they bought a house with a pool, I’d take swimming lessons. And wouldn’t you know. . .
But here’s my question: The pool is only four feet deep. Does that count?
Ok, ok, ok. I know the answer. But maybe I’ll just settle for a class in CPR. 🙂