One Fish, Two Fish

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.

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