When I am stressed there is nothing I like more than to go for a swim. I like the way that the lapping water calms me, and I love walking along the beach for the same reason.
Not so much as a child. My mother, like any mother, wanted the best for me. Over the years she bought me various “first 1000 words in… (insert language)” books, signed me up for ballet classes and competitions and tried to give me a rounded childhood. She also tried to get me to learn to swim.
To give you some background, I had a bit of an aversion to water. As a small child the bath was fine, splash splash splash, beard made out of bath bubbles, squirting water out of a fish…. All fun and games. Hair washing was another matter, and if water made contact with my head I would scream and scream and get myself so worked up that I might be sick. How my Mum looked forward to hair washing nights!
As I got older, I used to ask if I could do swimming lessons in the summer. The first year Mum enthusiastically booked me in, and the time came when I was to get in the water. Brand new swimming costume, very excited at the thought of being able to swim…. Wouldn’t get in the water. There were tears and tantrums and princess strops, and eventually my Mum could see that there was no way I was getting in the water. We went home in frosty silence.
The next year I requested the lessons again. I assured my Mum that I was indeed ready to learn, and she relented and booked them in. We got to the pool, I wouldn’t get in and my sister got the privilege of a week’s lessons. You can see where this is going.
The next year, the same thing happened. My sister was the best in the class, mainly for the fact that she had done swimming lessons every year when I wouldn’t do them. For the shame! My Mum also refused to talk to me for a bit as I had ruined her day. Just so happened it was her birthday.
Then one year we went to Italy. My cousins came too, along with my grandparents and mum and dad. I remember being horribly embarrassed that the other girls were playing in the pool for the majority of the holiday, and it was too deep in the shallow end for me to even play. I watched them for a few days, and then one day when my granny was in charge of watching us I climbed down the ladder and into the deep end of the pool. Understandable, my grandmother panicked, and rushed to the side of the pool to watch me swim breast stroke to the ladder at the shallow end and get out of the water.
“You can swim?!” everyone asked. It wasn’t that I could swim, but it seemed that I had watched everyone else do it for such a long time that I understood the theory of the task and was able to just get in and get on with it.
And I’ve loved the water ever since. I’m nothing if not stubborn!
Have you ever surprised yourself by being able to do something?