Jun 07 2013
A Beginner Again
A few months ago I discovered that I’m kind of miserable at swimming. At the suggestion of a friend, who completed a sprint triathlon last summer, I started training for one and found that while the running and biking components were no big deal, I couldn’t even make 4 laps before having to stop, cling to the edge of the pool, and hold on for dear life.
A friendly lifeguard who was occasionally on duty started giving me free tips and pointers, “Don’t lift your head up to try and breath” or “Use this paddle board to help with your kicks.” I appreciated his generosity but at the same time wondered just how badly I must be doing if he felt compelled to offer me so much free advice.
As luck would have it, one of my company dancers, Alyssa, moonlights as a swim instructor. After I casually mentioned how difficult I found swimming to be she demanded that I spend a half-hour in the pool with her to whip me into shape.
Perhaps I should’ve been a little easier on her in rehearsal in anticipation for something like this!
After one swim lesson with “Miss Alyssa”, I finally understood why swimming is fun. It’s not just about that buoyant feeling you get when you’re completely submerged, or how the water gently hugs you as you push through it. For the first time I experienced what it’s like to cut through the water quickly, feel the water gliding over me like a powerful wind. She also tried to teach me some fancy underwater version of a front tuck to get you to turn around at the edge of the pool but all I wound up doing is getting a lot of water in my nose.
It’s been incredible to be a beginner again at something related to movement. Growing up dancing and playing sports, I’m used to movement-related activities being easy to learn. And swimming somehow has been a huge challenge. Surprisingly, it’s refreshing to be frustrated, refreshing to have to focus so intensely with a different type of movement.
Swimming has been more rewarding now that I finally have moments where I hit my stride in the water. Suddenly everything syncs up and I feel as though a sail has sprouted from between my shoulder blades and I’m gliding. Feeling the water flowing over me like an easy breeze gives me a sense of exhilaration. All movement is about baby steps. Ultimately, you’ll get there.
I think that’s true about life too.