As part of my mid-life crisis, I have decided that it is time to learn to swim.
“Relax, be flexible,” Eve the Swim Instructor tells me. “Think fish.” I immediately began to think about sushi, Great Whites, and the yellow-slickered Gorton’s fisherman. Then I began to wonder why swimmers don’t get motion sickness.
“I’m not planning on getting my face wet,” I informed my SI. “I wouldn’t like to drown.” She pondered this, then said soothingly, “I will teach you the breast stroke.” This is progress, I thought. Despite the 3 degrees of Walter, she will be nurturing and kind, she will not toss me in the deep end, she will not be sadistic.
Lesson 1: We work on my flutter kick. “Your kick, while stealthy and elegant, will not propel you forward. I want to see a splash.” Hmm.
Lesson 2: “We’re going to work on rhythmic breathing: face in the water for 2 seconds, then out. And repeat.” Clearly she had forgotten the part about no face in the water . . . . “You did say you wanted to do a triathlon, right?”
Oh yeah. That was my resolution for my upcoming 49th year.
Swimming is not natural; it is, in fact, amazingly awkward. Surrounded by water, directions lose their meaning. Lefts and rights, ups and downs — I have no sense of my body position. Eve tries to explain the frog kick:
“Drop your knees, feet out, slam together and glide.” What???
“Point your feet out like Mary Poppins,” Eve instructs.
“Never saw the movie,” I said, dropping my knees and immediately sinking. Luckily, not too much sinking can happen in three feet of water.
“Really. I had a deprived childhood.”
This swimming thing is clearly going to be a much more complicated process than I had thought.