Emily M. DeArdo


Summer Scribbles No.2: Sink or Swim

essaysEmily DeArdoComment

Continuing on with Summer Scribbles (using prompts from The SITS girls), here is this week's prompt: 

When did you learn to swim? 

Um, well. This is sort of a funny story. 

I cannot "officially" swim. By that, I don't mean that I can't swim, because I can. I just mean that, in official parlance....I flunked swimming lessons. 

Yes. I'm a swimming lessons drop out. So is my brother, by the way. 

Back in the day, when I was probably five or six, my mom enrolled me in swimming lessons, like almost every other parent around here. I wasn't afraid of the water, and I would get in just fine. I'd kick and splash and all that. No problem.

So how'd I fail? 

I couldn't float. 

Really. I guess I just wouldn't trust that the water would keep me up. So I refused to do it. 

Thus, I was unable to move up to the next level of swimming lessons. 

I sort of taught myself backstroke while watching the Barcelona olympics, and noting what the commenters said about technique. I cannot butterfly or breast stroke, and I really can't do freestyle, either. I do my own sort of freestyle. But I can handle my own in a pool. I love the ocean, and baths are one of my favorite things in life. Water and I are friends. 

However, I used to get really nervous watching kids in water. Part of it was my lack of strong swimming skills, but also, when you have crappy lungs, the idea of not breathing is not one you voluntarily accept. So the idea of going out and chasing down a kid while I could barely breathe while swimming didn't seem good. 

But, since I have 22 cousins (not counting my siblings), and the vast majority of them are younger than me, and my aunts in Pittsburgh have pools (two did, now it's just one)--I got to watch a lot of kids in the pool. It always baffled me. I have many cousins who are excellent swimmers. There are a whole bunch who were on their high school swim teams, for pete's sake. Are you sure you want to trust me with your offspring, oh aunts of mine?! (They did. No idea why.) 

It's not such a big deal now, because almost all the kids are grown, or old enough that they can handle themselves in the water. 

I'm probably not the person you want in charge if you're sending your tiny tots to the water park. Or the ocean. Unless your kid really doesn't want to swim. Or go out beyond the breakers. 

But I can float now.

How did you learn to swim? Were you ever afraid of the water?