“I would give anything to be able to swim” – these words I have said many times but have never had the courage to do anything about it because of my fear of water. I could not walk into the middle of a pool or go beyond water above my waist. When my kids were small, I took some group swimming lessons but did not get anywhere. Now, nearing my 60th year and with a trip booked to Northern Italy on the lakes, I thought “wouldn’t it be nice to swim there on my birthday”. Also, I have always wanted to do a triathlon. I took to Google and arranged my first one-to-one lesson with PoolSkool for Monday 13th November 2017.
I met Gaye, my personal instructor. She came into the pool with me. We started off with some simple steps, putting your head under water and floating whilst she held both my hands – I say both as it took many lessons for me before I let go. Gaye could sense the tension from my grip and was extremely patient with my progress. She learnt not to push me as things had to progress at my pace. I was happy if I made some little progress by the end of each lesson. There were some lessons where I happened to take a step back, but I had prepared myself to be patient with myself and not to despair, like the time when Gaye asked me to swim towards her and I was using a noodle but was terrified to move. Gaye would coax me until I eventually was able to do without hesitation. I kept telling myself, “ I can do this”. I thought back to times where I had undertaken new tasks and been petrified, like learning to drive and going downhill on my bike. These were times when I had been extremely nervous but had persisted until I was in control and relaxed. I watched lots of YouTube videos, which also helped me. I even took to praying to the Patron Saint of Swimmers, St Adjutor! I also have difficulty in concentration which further hindered me. Not sure if my fear of bridges (gephyrophobia) is relative to my fear of swimming! Gaye asked me during one of my lessons if I was enjoying the swimming and I said a very emphatic “no”. I wanted to learn but it was a very tough road to that end.
I remember on February 5th, at the beginning of my swimming lesson I said to Gaye “I have to toughen up”. The one hour lesson flew and things had progressed very well. I, at last, managed to do “the star” unaided. This had haunted me before. Gaye asked if I would like to stay on a bit longer at this lesson. I said OK. Normally, I can’t wait for the hour to go by; I’d be watching the clock and willing it away. After a few more minutes, we withdrew the noodle and I swam, unaided, across the pool a couple of time! Success! Gaye said she had sensed a change in me. The next lesson, we concentrated on the glide and I went up and down the pool several times. Now , two weeks on, I swam 10m several times and got my 10m badge! Gaye asked again, if I was now enjoying it and I said I was getting there. That old cliché, “if I can do it, anyone can”, believe me, this is so true.
I don’t know how I could have managed without Gaye, who is THE most patient, calm person I have ever known. Anyone who has had to put up with my road to swimming deserves a medal!
I’ve now booked the entry for the triathlon on July consisting of a 500m swim.