I am desperately trying to teach myself how to swim. Unfortunately, the pool transforms into a liquid blue devil each time I dutifully submerge my reluctant body into the water. Each practice session is meant to prepare my body and mind to complete a sprint triathlon. Today, I flip flop my way to the edge of the lap lane and give a nod to the life guard on duty. As I survey the lanes looking for an open one, I simultaneously decide I like the smell of chlorine. Once I pick the lane, I take out my trusty purple binder filled with plastic sheet covers which carefully hold a series of drills specifically designed to enable me to swim like a fish. I begin my chosen positive mental mantra, “I love to swim. I swim with confidence and ease. I am completely comfortable in water.”
This blissful self-affirmation quickly degenerates into “This fricking sucks mud! Why in the hell is this so damn hard? Shit!,” after about 4 laps in the pool. My legs are determined to reach the bottom of the pool. They insist on pulling the rest of my body down with them. I imagine a bright shiny jewel lying on the pool floor beckoning my attention deficit feet and legs to come and investigate. I regroup and focus on the drills. I press my head and chest into the water, popping my hips and butt up to “kiss” the surface. Perfect! This works for exactly 2 strokes before I quickly begin to sink yet again. While attempting to correct myself, I turn to take a breath and water promptly rushes up my nose. Fantastic.
I daydream about unrestricted temper tantrums, behaving exactly as I wish, without feeling any embarrassment or remorse. I fantasize about letting loose the worst tantrum I could possibly muster up. Picture a blender on high, obnoxiously chewing up rocks, shaking back and forth only to short circuit with a resounding pop, orange electrical sparks flashing as a trail of charcoal smoke delicately evaporates up toward the ceiling. Ah, what delicious satisfaction such a demonstration would provide!
Alas, I am, in fact, a full-fledged adult living amongst adult cultural and psychological restrictions, so I force myself to take a few deep yoga breaths and yet again begin the positive mantra. I pray that this experience will improve over the next 10 weeks. I refuse to give up, which either makes me determined or stupid. As I finish up the drills as effectively as possible, I glance up at the life guard once again. I’ve caught his watching me with an amused smile. I can’t tell if he is laughing at me for poor form or is he just amused that a grown woman who looks otherwise pretty fit is struggling so much in the pool. Can he see the rocks churning in my mind, just waiting to be set free in my fantasy tantrum? Or is he honestly delighted to see someone put their heart into learning this incredibly frustrating sport? I chose to think it is the latter. Anyway, I need to churn out one more length and then I can check off another day. So I push off, try to keep my head down and my butt up. I’ll come back religiously 4 times a week until the day of the race. Hopefully, by then the urge to spit and curse will have been replaced with fluid, smooth strokes. If not, I’m going to be pissed.