I can’t swim.
I believe I’m the only one in my family who is unable to swim. Don’t get me wrong; we are not a family of swimmers extraordinaire. No one would mistake my siblings for Missy Franklin or Michael Phelps. But if they slipped and fell into a swimming pool, they would be able to make their way to the side. I, on the other hand, would flop around until such time that I either was saved by a lifeguard or sunk to the bottom like a large boulder, leaving only bubbles on the surface.
My grandchildren are horrified that I can’t swim. Well, to be honest, Cole doesn’t mind much, but he probably will by time he reaches his second birthday. When they learn that Nana is unable to swim, they always tell me, “Nana, I can teach you to swim.”
No you can’t, I tell them. Because here’s the thing. The reason I can’t swim is because I’m terrified of having my head under water. There’s probably a name for this phobia. After all, there’s even a name for fear of vomiting – emetophobia. I have that too. But to be perfectly frank, I would throw up before I would put my head under water.
I have tried treading water. No can do. I don’t know why, but it probably has something to do with the fact that I’m afraid that my water treading will be unsuccessful and I will go under water.
What’s funny is that I’m not particularly afraid of water. I go out in boats. I lie on floaties in swimming pools (as long as I’m not in water that would go over my head). And I love to hang out at swimming pools, though I must admit I have a phobia about being seen in a swimming suit. Flabaphobia? I can and have overcome that phobia, however, as I’ve gotten older and began worrying less about my looks.
All this is to say that it is somewhat surprising that one of my favorite things to do each summer is watch my grandkids swim. Addie, Alastair, and Dagny all participate on the swim team of the neighborhood swim club to which they belong. It is only a few blocks from our house, so I enjoy walking over there on nice summer mornings and watching them swim.
That’s what I did yesterday morning. The sun was out and I was feeling blue because my brother and sister-in-law who had been visiting for the past couple of days had left early yesterday morning. I decided a walk was in order and elected to walk over to the swim club and watch their classes.
I sat in one of the chairs right by the pool, watched them swim back and forth and back and forth and marveled at how tired they must get by the end of their lesson. I was also struck by the fact that their swim coach must have been a drill sergeant in a previous life (or perhaps earlier in this life). My favorite drill was when she asked them to swim the length of the pool and back and if even one child wasn’t “streamlined” after he/she made their turn, the entire team had to do it all over again. And she followed through. It made me tired to watch. I wanted to yell, “But Addie was streamlined!” but I kept my mouth shut. She might have tried to make me swim a lap, and, well, see above. Fear or putting head under water.
But I was blissfully happy sitting in the sun with the smell of chlorine and sunscreen wafting through the air. Because I was sitting right by the pool, when one of the swimmers would make their turnaround, I would get splashed. Particularly if they weren’t STREAMLINED. But I didn’t mind a bit. I guess I think if you are sitting next to a swimming pool full kids and are bothered by getting wet, you should go elsewhere. Maybe shopping at Nordstrom’s or something.
I’m happy that all of my grandkids are learning (or have already learned) to swim. I am not happy about the fact that I can’t do this simple thing. I don’t know what I was in any previous lives, but it definitely didn’t involve swimming.