Swimming 101

Yes, I am a 101. What is more, I have been at 101 for well over 101 months! And after making close to 101 attempts!
I did try to learn swimming back in the day. If anyone recalls, those of us who did the 11 year ISC (Indian School Certificate), used to have a 7 month break between school and college. Our exams would get over by December, and we could join college only the next July. What a glorious break! While we did our best to do nothing (except read Mills and Boon from the nearby lending libraries), parents were hell bent on sending us here and there, to learn this and that. Not as wide and exotic (and expensive) a menu as today. The staples back in our time were typewriting (yes!!), swimming, a foreign language (usually French), classical music and dance (the last two especially for the Tams). Supplemented by usually-unsuccessful efforts to get us to learn basics of cooking.

Accordingly, I too was shunted to most of the above, including swimming. I showed no talent for physical activities and swimming was no exception. I caught myself a pretty bad infection in a week, and that was the end of that first foray.
I kind of gave up (or did not see a swimming pool) for close on 25 years. But about 15 years ago, when we moved into an apartment block with a pool, the desire to glide like a fish took over. Accordingly, we hunted up a coach and early morning classes started. But the water was cold and Day 4, when I turned my neck in a panic to breathe, it caught. The classes stopped the next day, but the pain persisted for a month!
Next summer, I decided to go to the school down the road which opened up its pool during the vacations for swim lessons. Being in the pool with 15 below-15s did nothing for my ego or my skill. That too ended without much progress.
The year after, using a host of contacts, was able to organize for lessons at the pool of a big club. Slipped and fell on the side. Bruised all limbs and was stiff for a week. End of lessons.
Then we moved to another city and another colony which had a club with a nice pool. Year 1, I did try sincerely and flapped in the water for a month in summer—it was a case of two strokes forward, one stroke back (pun unintended). But next year, there was a dispute between the club management and the residents, and the club closed for the rest of the time we live there.
Then, three years ago, we moved into our permanent home. For the first two years, I just walked around the pool in the society. It was too cold; or there were too many kids; or it was raining; or I was sure I was getting a cold.
Then a week ago, I met a friend on my evening walk. We got to talking of swimming.

‘I can kind of do the back stroke’.
‘Me too’.
‘I can do a few yards of freestyle, but after that, I can’t breathe.’
‘Me neither.’
‘I have tried attending classes many times but the coaches say they can’t teach me anything more. That I know the basics and it’s up to me to practice.’
‘Same here.’

‘Really wish I could swim’.
‘Me too.’
So both of us decided—literally—to take the plunge yesterday.
Dug out our suits (thank god I still fit). And our caps. And towels. And bags.
Landed up at the pool. Showered and were in.
Flapped around a bit. Did a breadth or two of backstroke. Swallowed a lot of water. Felt the chlorine sting our eyes. But did not go too far anywhere.
Got back home. Decided to turn to youtube for a few lessons. Realized I had forgotten to breathe out in the water when I was trying the freestyle.
Now fully charged up. Easy peasy—it looks in the video.
And I have been practicing all day (on land, I have to confess)—blow, blow, blow, breathe in; blow, blow, blow, breathe in.

Today, I shall do it! I shall graduate this time. I shall overcome. I shall glide like a fish.
Do not under-estimate a matriarch.
PS: If I don’t, I won’t be telling you about it!

—Meena

7 thoughts on “Swimming 101

  1. Over the years looks like your love for swimming was very much there, which took you from one pool to the other 😀. Keep going and you will surely get to all the strokes!

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  2. Meena, this sounds like you are writing my story. And can you believe it. I too decided to try to learn yet once again. have bought a new swimsuit, because unlike you, I am not able to fit into my old one. and I ain’t telling no one either if I do not succeed yet again!

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  3. Way to go Meena! Think of all the exotic places you can visit and show off your swimming skills. Galapagos, here I come…

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