13 August 2009

One for The Books (iv)

I sent my parents the picture of my bloody bandage and told them it was quite possible I was about to drown. I mean I didn't really think I was going to drown, but I certainly did not expect to have an uneventful lesson. Not using my pinky slowed me. We were more than a half hour later meeting Coach Becca. Then - and please do not be surprised - the pool was not available. There was a swim meet. Jesse and I were 45 minutes and $18 from home with a coach and no pool. And it was hot. It was a perfect day to swim. It was about 2PM and I wanted to cry. I wanted to give up and let someone else try to control the day. Certainly it was beyond me. I had done the best I could, all things considered. I sat in the car with my sweaty back and throbbing finger and had nothing positive to offer. Thank goodness for Coach Becca.

She took us to another pool and along the way we got to drive with the top down. It was very "California." We cruised the San Francisco suburbs, taking in the sunshine and trees and (at least for me) appreciating the reprieve from the crowds that surround us everywhere else. It was a great reminder to relax and I needed it. It softened the blow when we found pool #2 was also hosting a meet. Apparently a lot of summer leagues end in August. And that's prime time for swimmers to show their skills.

We did end up having the lesson - about two hours later than anticipated - at Coach Becca's brother's pool. It was large enough to have a deep end, but small enough that everyone there knew I was there to learn to swim. Part of me wanted to stop and explain to them that I had never had the opportunity to learn, that it wasn't that I had failed, just that the right moment (and the right teacher) had not arrived until now. I wanted everyone there to know I have accomplished some great things, just not swimming. But that would have made me insane. So I went along with the lesson.

It went well. Breathing is still a foreign concept. I can move my arms and kick. Or I can breathe and move my arms. But any combination involving both breathing and kicking sends me to the bottom of the pool. I managed to do it all once over the weekend, and truth be told, I don't know how I did it. Coach Becca insists I over think, and that I have to just go with what feels natural. She's such a swimmer.

The grand finale on Saturday was for me to get into the deep end of the pool. It must be noted that "deep" is anything deeper than 5'. That's about as high as my nose, and therefore worthy of a red flag. This particular deep end was 6' and I was not excited to delve into its depths. I crossed my arms, stood out of arms' (and pool's) reach and told Coach Becca we were moving too fast. She made me come closer, promising she was not going to push me in. I scowled, but I did it. She talked me into the pool and had me hanging on with just one arm. I thought I was going to vomit. My stomach was tight and I swear I couldn't take a deep breath to save my life. And considering I might have needed a deep breath to in fact save my life, I think I started to sweat.

My assignment was a simple streamline kick across half the pool. Starting in the deep end meant I'd be able to stand up as soon as I was done. That was incentive. Having everyone stop staring at me was also incentive. I mustered my deepest breath, got off to a terrible start, and made it more than halfway. When my head popped out, Coach Becca and a little old lady were cheering. And I would have cried, if I had caught my breath.

Reminder: I'm running in the Nike Women's Marathon as a fundraiser to fight Leukemia & Lymphoma. Please support me by donating here.

Thank you!