"Gee, you look different with your clothes on!”
These were often the first words I'd hear whenever I'd meet someone, whether in Eaton's, Robin's Donuts or at the movies. (There's a little clue about the period of time to which I'm referring!) If you taught as many swimming lessons and life-guarded as frequently as I did, people often saw me in various states of undress. They took great delight in loudly uttering those eight words, in the hopes that it would get some attention and cause me to blush. Yes and yes.
I enjoyed my time as a swimming instructor and lifeguard. The clean environment encouraged health and fitness, plus it was a wonderful, well-paying job that I used to navigate through high school, university and beyond. I often encourage parents to steer their children into aquatics for many reasons, including the fact that the lessons learned pool or seaside can spill over into the everyday.
Lessons to keep you swimming through life:
- Anyone can overcome their fear at any age. I've watched 70-year-young ladies gradually get more comfortable in my Aqua-Fit classes and eventually begin swimming. Break your fear down into stages.
- Panicking only causes you to sink faster. Talk yourself into staying calm.
- Treading water until you're ready to go on is valuable in and of itself. Recharge.
- Sometimes you just need to float. Rest.
- When you're changing in and out of your bathing suit, you learn to be quick. Repetition improves speed.
- Swimming a mile takes time to build up. Practice. Practice. Practice. With practice and perseverance you do make progress.
- An effective rescuer is one who ensures that s/he is safe. T.O.T.O.M. - The Theory of the Oxygen Mask – in order to be of the greatest assistance, you need to be safe yourself.
- Looking at the scene from above gives you a better view of the whole pool. Step back from the problem.
- There's a time to just take a breath and jump off the 3-metre board. Over-analyzing can be paralyzing.
When was the last time you took a refreshing leap into a sun-dappled pool, lake or the sea? Not quite ready to leap? Start with a big toe and wade your way in. Keep at it. Soon, you'll develop skills that will enable you to swim through life.