I had started Level One Swimming lessons at our local pool when I was in fifth grade. I arrived at the pool with my velvety purple swimsuit on, my pink Jasmine towel in my clutches, and my brown hair tight up in a ponytail ready to be an expert swimmer like most of my friends. They lined the class up before we headed in the pool for attendance. As I looked around I realized that I was the only tall person in my class…”Oh no,” I thought, “wait a second… These all look like kindergartners…Umm…Yep…They are. I’m 5 years older than everyone here.” I looked up at the fence surrounding the pool and realized not only was I in a class with all “babies” but all of these kid’s moms were here and proudly cheering them on.
“Okay!” my swimming instructor Mindy said after attendance was over, “Time to get in the pool!” She led us over to the shallow end and some kids cannonballed while I made my way to the stairs and snuck in. “To warm up I want you all to come to the side of the pool, grab onto the edge with your hands and practice kicking like this.” She smoothly sauntered to the side of the pool, grabbed the edge with conviction, slowly let her torso and legs float to the surface, and then lightly flicked her legs back and forth in a mesmerizing rhythm. I wanted to swim like that! “Okay! Now your turn everyone!” she exclaimed as she stood back up in the water. I was the first one to the wall I was so eager! I’m sure the fact that I had substantially longer legs than the other kids also helped. When we were all lined up she commanded us to gently float our legs up at start kicking. I think all the kids had the same idea as me because when those kindergartners kicked, boy did they mean business. Water was splashing all around us and some of the kids were laughing from the pure joy of the action! I closed my eyes and let my legs push harder than they ever had. I wanted to be the best at this. I could feel my thick legs jumping one by one out of the water like a pair of dolphins skimming the water and then entering the water with such a force that they chopped the water in two. I continued pushing for half a minute before I felt a hand on my shoulder. I quickly stood up, wiped my eyes, and looked around. I saw an uncomfortable wince on Mindy’s face as she stood behind me off to the side. I then looked at the two kids to my left and the two to the right. They were standing perfectly still, no longer laughing, staring at me while completely soaked. One kid, named David, even had the beginnings of tears in his eyes. I think. Or it could’ve just been I splashed him in his blonde haired pale face just that hard.
“Opps…Sorry…” I squeaked. My oversized legs may have gotten me around quicker, but they definitely didn’t help with my popularity in that class. You’d think being a small kid and having an older and more experienced kid in your class would be something for you to look up to. “Fake it ’til you make it!” my mom had always said. Those six year olds saw right through me from day one. When you’re unpopular, you’re just really unpopular. After that first day of swimming lessons they recommended that I be bumped up to Level Two purely for my age and size.
One day in Level Two and they quickly switched me back to Level One.
That lone day in Level 2 is still my earliest repressed memory.
A few classes back in Level One Mindy announced a game where she would throw some ring toys in the shallow end of the pool and we’d have to swim down and grab them. Whoever had the most toys would win! “Finally,” I thought, “a chance to prove myself to all of these kindergartners. I could practically bend down and pick them up!” She threw the toys all around. “Ready. Set. GO!” she yelled. Everyone threw their bodies head first into the water. One girl with the red swimsuit came up holding the red ring first, “Got one!”
“Me too!” her tiny friend said as she popped up next to her. “Okay, time to be serious,” I thought as I spotted a blue toy. I crouched down and tried to grab it.
“Make sure you try to surface dive to get it,” Mindy announced while looking straight at me. I felt my face flush a light crimson. I then proceeded to plug my nose with my right hand and enter the water. Being able to hold my breath underwater without plugging my nose was a skill that took me many years to master. Trying to swim facing downward while you’re overweight as a kid is no easy task. The upper half of my body kept trying to float up. I reached out my left hand and tried to feel for the toy. I didn’t feel anything and my body started to float up towards the surface. I waved my hand like I was hailing a taxi to try to stay underwater. “Where the heck was it?” My PG-mind cursed. I felt around the bottom of the tiled pool again. I then made the mistake of trying to open my eyes while still in the chlorine infested water in an effort to see the blasted toy. I felt a million eyelashes stuck in my eye at once and quickly jumped to the surface. I still am in awe of people that can open their eyes underwater without goggles. I rubbed my eyes for only what felt like ten seconds before I realized everyone else sounded like they got a toy or were finishing up. I have to get this. I forced open my blood shot eyes and made sure the blue toy was still there. Yep. Nose plugged and eyes shut I dove down again and reached out my right hand this time. As I got close to the toy I felt a graze of water pressure near my hand and then a splash above me. I touched the floor of the pool and felt nothing so I re-surfaced right away.
“I got the last one!” I heard David shout as I could feel my heart sink. I looked around and everyone had a ring except for me. David won the game with three toys. I cringed as he held up the blue one. Needless to say I only ever made it to Level 2 before begging my parents not to take me to swimming lessons anymore. My go-to swimming style now is the doggy paddle, which gets me around and also makes my friends laugh so I consider it a win-win. It’s funny when you’re a kid you think you are good at everything, until you’re actually not. How many more things would I have tried as an adult with the same mentality? Thankfully this experience didn’t stop me much and was the first of many failed attempts at trying to be good at an assortment of things such as: canoeing, skating, skiing, and, yes, sometimes even just walking. Is there anything you really wanted to be good at but just were not cut out? Comment or message me here and we can reminisce about life’s humbling moments together. (To comment you have to click near the left of the title for future reference.)
Happy Wednesday!! ♥ Hope this finds all of you well!!