Friday, April 1, 2011

In the water

Yesterday, I put on my bathing suit, grabbed a towel, and biked up to the pool.

And I actually got into the water.

If this doesn't sound like a big deal to you, it is to me. I am water-phobic.

I love the water. Looking at it, sitting by it, listening to its waves, fishing off the dock, riding on a pontoon. 

But getting into the water?  Another matter entirely.

I never learned to swim as a child. My sisters and I biked up to the Highland Park pool where they offered lessons, and I did try. But there was some innate instinct, it seemed, that made me resist. I could put my head under water and blow bubbles, but panic set in at the mere thought of floating and letting go under water.  A definite lack of trust.

The summer I was 15, my friend, Mary Kay, and I went to the beach at Lake Nokomis: me to sunbathe, she to swim.  As she was out swimming, I decided to wade along the shoreline. I walked along the shore, a bit out of the swimming area, and then decided to see if I could walk in just a bit deeper.

The next thing I knew, I was drowning. I clearly remember thinking: This is what it's like to die. And wanting my mother.

I had walked into a drop-off.  As my head bobbed up, someone nearby saw me and came to rescue me.  Then Mary Kay saw the commotion on the beach and came rushing over. I was shaking, and what seemed like an hour all probably happened in seconds.

But it transformed a mild mistrust of the water into a heart-pounding fear.

When my own children were small, my husband preferred that I not be anywhere near them if our family was by the water. We often spent weekends at his parents' lake home, and the kids were learning to swim. But I was transferring my fear with my gasps and overly-cautious warnings. Thankfully, today they can swim and are not afraid.

So yesterday, with record heat levels in Mesa (99 degrees today!), I got into the pool.  And Mary Kay snapped this photo as proof.

I must say, it felt wonderful.... long as my feet could touch the bottom and stay firmly planted there.