A few weeks ago I watched my wife approach the deep end of the pool with her swimming instructor. She’d just learned to swim, finally after 55 years, and this was the test – the deep end.
She got as far as the yellow line in the pool where the depth changed from 1.4 metres to 2.8. My wife is about 1.93 metres tall. She had to make up the depth difference by treading water or swimming.
The previous week she’d learned the forward crawl with the proper breathing technique and to float on her back and even tread water. The swim coach taught her some drown proofing as well.
I was impressed. These were things I’d learned years ago, but as my wife was being taught, I started to practice them again. Like learning it for the first time.
But that day at the deep end was too much for my wife. Her face was set in a grimace of tension as she treaded water for a quick 30 seconds and swam back to the safety of the shallow end where her feet could touch the bottom.
What had happened I asked? She told me that the very fact of having no pool to put her feet on panicked her. I understand that. Some 50% of North American’s do not know how to swim, and of those that do, a great percentage will stay in shallow water for fear of drowning.
Notice when you go to the pool, or the beach, just how many people are in deep end or swimming effortlessly out in the ocean. It’s actually very few. We as humans seem to have this fear of being in over our heads.
This strange notion came to me as I realized that 70 percent of our earth is made up of water, why are we not naturally taken to the water. Does our fear keep us out of the deep? Or is it our lack of knowledge of water?
SURPRISE – WE ALL FLOAT
I learned this from a site called relaxnswim.com , that the buoyancy of water reduces your body weight by 90%. Also, a full lungful of air acts like a ballon in your chest keeping you afloat.
Then I read further on this website, and had that “ah ha moment,” it said, “Feeling buoyancy in water is all about presence in one’s body – feeling while swimming – is most valuable when a swimmer is not distracted by the pool bottom.”
There it was, the reason we keep ourselves out of the pool. We’re worried about where the bottom is – or isn’t.
A CONVERSATION WITH A 74 YEAR OLD SWIM COACH.
One day, my wife an I were in the pool, and she was doing her laps to improve her swim stroke and work on that treading water technique – the one to get her over her fear of the deep end.
We met Jamie at our local pool. Turns out he’d been on a swim team at a major US University in his youth, then taught competitive swimming. Jamie was great, he went over the techniques of swimming with my wife, and talked about how we humans are all born to float. He said, “It’s just that we don’t know it.”
Jamie would teach people to swim by first telling them to try to stay underwater with a full lungful of air – none of them could. What he taught them was the law of the human body, water and psychics. If we have air in our bodies we’ll float.
“Then how do we drown?” I asked.
“Simple, we get excited and take in water.” He said.
MY OWN SWIMMING LESSON BEGAN FROM ALMOST DROWNING
My wife asked me how I learned to swim, and I told her it was from almost drowning. I was about 5 years old, and wading in a lake, it had a serious drop off that I obviously did not know about, or forgot.
I still remember to this day, walking off that edge and my body plunging deep into the water. I could see the light on the surface growing dimmer as I went deeper. I even remember my life flashing before my eyes, fortunately for me , at 5 years old it was a short flash.
I started kicking and clawing my way back up to the surface. A lungful of air never felt so good. I ran back to my mother, probably cried my eyes out and my dad taught me to swim that afternoon. He held me while I kicked my legs and thrashed my arms – I was a swimmer.
DEVELOPING NEW TECHNIQUES TO GET OVER OUR FEARS
So, why am I talking about the deep end and the need to learn the techniques of floating to get over our fears? I know, I thought it strange myself how this fits in with my fiction writing, but this blog is really about learning things to overcome our fears.
If it’s true that all people float, but 50% of us won’t even try, then what does this tell us about so many other things in life that we never attempt because we think we can’t do it.
It could be the writer too afraid to show people their writing- that would be that fear of the deep end. Or that career or business you wanted to start but were afraid you’d fail – losing touch with the bottom of the pool is what that might be called.
Perhaps these are over simplifications of things, but in the sense of overcoming our fears, it really comes down to the basics, learning new techniques and trusting ourselves.
THE FINAL CHALLENGE
I’m happy to report that my wife did finally swim over that dreaded deep end. As a matter of fact she swam a few lengths. When she tired, she just flipped over onto her back and floated leisurely towards the shallow end.
“How did it feel?” I asked.
“Fantastic!” She answered. My wife now loves to swim, and is upset if we travel to some place that doesn’t have a pool.