Head First

I wasn’t satisfied with my performance and wanted to get some additional skills. Having “passed” to the next level, I registered for the Adult 3-4 class at West Gwinnett Aquatic Center.

What was I thinking?

My class was YOUNG my instructor Caroline was YOUNG, a junior in high school.  My saving grace was another student in her late 50s which made for a class of two old folks and three youngsters. That was short-lived however, she dropped after the second week leaving me with some energetic teens and pre-teens.  My teacher, young as she was, was highly skilled, friendly and encouraging even though I failed miserably at the breast stroke and no one but me attempted rhythmic breathing right way.  I was ready to quit after every single class but continued to return in spite of my difficulties.  Class was going as well as could be expected until she laid the big one on us. One of the required skills was to dive head first into 12 feet of water.

Judgement day arrived, we marched to the 12 feet end and upon arrival I had a quiet panic attack.  Watching those kids go in I told young instructor straight up, “I’m not doing that.”  There was something going on in my head that I couldn’t shake. I jumped in feet first during that last round of classes and it was fun.  However jumping in head first had me petrified with my head filled with thoughts of all that could go wrong.  Scary as it was, I became determined to not be defeated by fear of an act that I hadn’t even attempted.

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So I started the battle with fear by viewing some videos on the challenges of teaching adult swimmers.  One of them dealt specifically with diving which indicated it may be necessary to take a gradual approach to the diving.  During the next to last week I suggested this gradual approach to the instructor, she agreed and from a seated position I took my first head first dive which was more like a fall into the pool.

The last week came.  Next to last class we practiced flip turns (hysterical) and more of the strokes.  For the last class it was students choice and of course those children chose diving.  While the kids went in without hesitation. I took baby steps. 1)sit and fall in 2) kneel and fall in and 3) standing.

I was freaking petrified.  I asked a thousand questions, “what are my feet doing, what are my hands doing, do I push or jump, what about my head?”  Young instructor was unflinching in her encouragement and patience.  My brain finally stopped all of its foolishness and BAM I DOVE IN HEAD FIRST!  It was a non-event.  Who knew that you could go in that way and come right back up?  Of course I did it three more times just to make sure it wasnt a fluke and it wasn’t,  in fact it was real cool.

My mind had been playing tricks on me all along, tricking me into thinking that I didn’t have the skill to dive and that doing so would have adverse effects.  Both thoughts were false.  I’m glad that my brain stopped its ridiculousness so that I could do something that was fun and a bit of an achievement.

Vacation and work have kept me away from the pool for over a month now and I miss it.  As regularly scheduled programming has resumed, I’m heading back to the pool to practice and later this summer for more classes in order to keep the boogie man away and the belly at bay.

What about you? Do you have a boogie man that’s making you stay on the sidelines? Taking it head on is a big step. If you have done so and care to share your story, let me know in the comments.

Until next time I’ll see you at the pool, going in head first 🙂

Special thanks to Caroline Christie, one of Gwinnett’s finest swim instructors.

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Photos: MsThorns

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