I was ready to row. I had set my April goal – sign up for classes, get on Town Lake (Lady Bird Lake? the Colorado river? that watery spot south of the Capitol?), and row my little heart out. I had looked at the class times – twice a week, two hours each class, and for three weeks. In my mind, I had already joined my new crew where we bonded over our individual learning hurdles, and then in that last hour we finally got “it,” and really came together as a team. We would probably meet-up afterwards to celebrate – likely somewhere mid-town, where we’d a little too loud over a breakfast taco or two. Beer might be involved. We’d exchange numbers. Then we’d plan to meet-up the following week. We’d joke about competitions – old ladies like us, and then Amanda (my imaginary mascot of our gang) would start to make us actually believe we could. We’d find each other on Facebook, and start sharing our lives.
I love this imaginary gang of people – so supportive. Amanda is really the best.
On the rowing website it said, “watch the safety video before signing-up,” and like any good lazy soul, I immediately saw the 45 minute run time and scoffed. I mean 45 minutes of safety? Couldn’t they just nutshell that into: “Don’t hit each other with oars,” “Watch where you step,” “Try not to drown”?? I’ve blown that video off for weeks, but the day I was about to sign up, I finally forced myself to comply.
Ten minutes in, and something became clear, I was a hazard to my future crew besties, and myself because I can’t swim.
Let me clarify that a bit. I can air-quote “swim.” I can get from point A to point B if we’re talking the standard width of a kiddie pool. I can swim underwater, dog paddle, and even float on my back a bit for short distances. What I cannot do is be dropped into the middle of the ocean, or let’s say a lake (be it Town, Lady Bird or otherwise), and expect to survive more than seven minutes. Add to that the stress surrounding how I’d likely end up in said water: the boat tipped, me upside down, my feet locked in place, have to release my feet, get out from under the boat, tread, right the craft, then hopefully pull myself into it while remaining relatively calm. In other words, I can’t swim.
The video promised a swim test, and that I would likely need to tread water for about 15 minutes. Treading water is something I’ve never mastered. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was the only kid at my elementary school who never passed the Red Cross Level 1 class. I’ve also nearly drowned three times. When I say that, I mean it literally. I had to be fished out of the water once by an adult who happened to see me go under, a friend grabbed me as I was being swept away by a current, and well, there was the other time where I’d slipped out of a float, couldn’t get my face above the water to get air, did a 3-2-1 countdown (universal sign of drowning, or so I thought) as I’d seen on Bugs Bunny, thankfully found the pool ladder, and then sat on the edge of the pool coughing water out of my lungs. Granted all of this happened before I even turned 10, and truthfully most it happened before I had turned 6, but where some would see this as a rallying cry of, “I need to learn to swim!” I saw it more as a, “I should always avoid deep water! Maybe I’m a hot-tub girl!”
Anyway, those two thoughts were clearly at odds. I want to row! I can’t swim. Something had to give.
So, today I went to my first beginning adult swim class. It was FANTASTIC! (And a bit exhausting – and Jenn, I janked my shoulder a bit, but I’m watching foam-rolling videos right now, so go me?? It’s like actual rolling, but with my eyes. Like you’re probably doing now.)
The teacher was absolutely wonderful and exceptionally patient. Mid-class she stopped another coach and introduced us, “Beth, this is Sam. At some point, I’ll be sending you with her to work on what to do if you ever find yourself in the middle of a lake. You’ll learn to tread as well as other survival techniques.” I’d clearly made my “I’ll die in open water” and “I’m currently a danger to myself and others” points quite well. Go me!
So, my new thing in April? Swimming, and I’m pretty excited about it. Good thing since it’s probably my May, June, July, and every month thereafter thing. BUT, glass half-full, the weather might be cool again by the time I actually get to start rowing, and maybe my future crew will have some fun stories from their summer to share. I just hope they don’t mind me holding the team back like this. Save a taco and a story for me, ladies. I’m doing my part to keep us safe.
You got this Boof! I think if you’d just watched the whole video, I mean all of it right to the end of the credits you would’ve seen the foot note that said, “if you can’t swim and you fall from the boat, Hugh Jackman will rescue you and then gently wrap you in a rescue blanket and make sure you weren’t traumatized…. I’m pretty sure. Did you watch it all the way to the end?
Also congrats on the swim class! =) If ever you wonder if a swimmer could be more painful to their instructor I’ll come along with my very good form that no matter what they tell me to do results in the same pace of swimming I get with the dog paddle. Come on Hugh, I’m dying here!
Shoot! I should have stayed to the end. They probably keep a list of all the people who make it to the end, then send the list to Hugh Jackman so he knows to load up on warm blankets and reassuring hugs. I bet he even has a whole arm/chest workout routine designed to really provide the best/warmest (and non-creepy, of course) hugs. He really does give back to the fans.
Thank you for making me smile (and making me go back to the Hugh Jackman hug photo, which is the best).
Love you, Pooh!
Any time! ❤❤❤
Such a fun read. I like how there is just enough self deprecating humor but I read the bravery between the lines. Atta girl! 🏊♀️🏊♀️🏊♀️🚣♀️
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Thank you, Sheila!!! My goal is to one day be half the bad-ass you are (or I’d settle for 1/3). You are amazing!
HA HA – they probably do keep a list of who makes it to the end of the video!
Swimming isn’t an issue – but do not ask me to float…just doesn’t happen. My mom was a Red Cross instructor and we lived at the local pool all summer from 10-12 and 2-4 every day all summer. It’s what kids did: ride bike to pool and meet everyone there. There teen girls lolled in lounge chairs/on beach towels as the rock and roll blared ( and complained if they got splashed…but I digress. Every secondary school in this area had pools and every kid was scheduled for at least 6 weeks of swim classes every single year. There were school swim teams and meets at high school level. The thought was that we all live near water and should be able to not die. Then people complained their girls hated to get wet hair ( not to mention the makeup issues) and probably school insurance company suggested also new school not have pools. So they don’t – and so many kids never learn to swim – even the ones born in the area.
Oh, well, Cheers for you having good sense – swimming is wonderful…and you can row on with it. (Yow – underwater with feet locked in…shiver…even if I can swim!) You got courage (and lots more stories ahead!)
Oh wow! My mom was a swimmer, but not at that level. (Actually, she was an athlete who loved and excelled at many sports, and then got a nerdy kid who just wanted to curl up and read. I think she hoped I’d be the next Little Mo or Babe Didrikson.) In high school I lived in walking distance of Barton Springs, which was fantastic. I’d go, and I’d never do anything anywhere around the deep end other than jump off the diving board and swim over to the side – that has always been my limit.
Like you, I cannot float. I was telling a friend that last week and she looked so perplexed. She also grew up on the water, and couldn’t fathom a person who couldn’t just float. I truly envy those who can. I mean, I can kind of do it where you just see my head, but the rest of my body is definitely a lot lower than the water line. Do you think they’ll teach me to be more buoyant in these classes? Can I will my body into complying and being much more floaty?
I’ve actually been wanting to take swim lessons for a long time, and I’m glad this forced my hand. Although, I just watched some capsize drills, and am having second thoughts on the rowing. (But not on the swimming! I’m having too much fun!)
Hope things are going well in the realm! Thank you, as always, for posting a note!
Thank you for having the self-confidence to admit that you aren’t a strong swimmer and to do something about it! Many people would just assume they would be fine and then end up putting themselves and their crew mates in a potentially dangerous situation. That’s exactly the sort of responsible, humble and honest person that your future crew mates will be very pleased to have in the boat with them. I hope that your swimming lessons are going well and that when you do start rowing that you enjoy it thoroughly! If you approach rowing with the same attitude you will be a pleasure to coach!
Thank you so much! I look forward to being at that point and to meeting my future crew. I had a friend ask when I’d be ready, and I told them, “when I’m ready.” I’m not on a time table Rowing will always be there for me, and the best thing I can do is make sure I’m the strongest/safest swimmer I can possibly be. So if it takes me a year to get there, then it takes me a year. If it takes me longer, then it takes me longer. I want to be safe for myself, and my crew, so we all have the best time we can. Thank you for stopping by and leaving words of encouragement; they mean a lot to me!