image via angela mayhoe
FACING FEARS ONE STROKE AT A TIME
The muted sound of disco beats wafted through the air as I entered the gates of the aquatic center. The water aerobics class was about to start and bodies of all ages were bobbing in the pool waiting for the instructor to cheer her first command. To my right, a group of advanced swimmers were practicing laps in the olympic size pool that was equipped with lane separators and various heights of diving boards. After a couple of moments, I finally figured out where I was suppose to be and was relieved to learn that my lesson would be held in the therapy pool, a desolate location in the back that was calm and quiet.
I found an empty spot on a white damp bench. My soon to be instructor gave me a gazed and nod from the pool to acknowledge my presence. I wonder what gave me away, the fact that I'm his only adult student for the season or my full swimming armor that I carefully curated weeks before my lesson. I was fully committed at this point. I had been spotted, acknowledge and checked off the list. The time had come and it was my turn to enter the pool. I held on tight to the railing as my legs began to disappear into the deep abyss. I was face to face with my instructor, Jean Paul. His warming smile calmed my nerves and the thought of me drowning began to ripple away. I explained my swimming abilities (none at all) and began to rattle off my hesitations and fears of learning to swim. He shook his head for support and then instructed me to submerge my body into the water and hold my breath...what?!
I was caught off guard but quickly remembered that this was a fear that I've been waiting to face and my AMEX had already been charged. So, I adjusted my goggles and slipped down into the unknown. As I resurrected from the chlorine laced waters, I realized that it wasn't that bad. It actually felt freeing and I wanted to do it again.
Jean Paul was pleased with my bravery and continued to challenge my commitment as he gingerly spurtted out commands and praised me with a thumbs up. I had 5 minutes left for my lesson and the moment of truth had arrived. Jean Paul gave me a list of instructions along with a visual example of what to do. He appeared effortless as he went through the motions in the water. Without hesitation (and a choice), I announced that I was ready to give it a try and began to turn around. I fell back and felt the water slowly welcome me as it covered the back of my head and then my ears. His hands lightly grasped my shoulders, my legs began to rise and I stretched out my arms. Jean Paul slowly slid his hands away and gave me my last direction...relax.
I was floating!