Thursday, May 21, 2009

Polka Dot Bathing Suit

I really don't like swimming. I know that is weird for someone who loves summer as much as I do, but it's true. I hate bathing suits.  I hate that it's so easy to fry my skin in the water, despite that I have applied sunscreen. I hate that the water is often extremely cold, giving me goose-bumps.  I hate goose-bumps. I hate that it is a huge pain/production if I have to pee since I have to try to dry off and go inside and attempt to peel out of my wet bathing suit just to do so.  I hate that wherever the bathroom is, they are usually BLASTING the A/C, causing me to get even more goose-bumps and stand shivering in the stall as I fight with the wet suit.  I hate that being in the water makes me SO hungry that I just want to eat whatever happens to be around, usually chips or brownies or some other fattening food that will make me look even worse in a bathing suit.

Oh yeah... and I hate that I can't actually swim. Not any real swimming stroke, anyway. I can tread water and I can dive under and kick my feet and move my arms to try to move to the other side of the pool, but I can't actually swim laps or anything.

When I was 5 or 6, my mom put me in swimming lessons at the local swim club. We couldn't afford a membership, but my aunt had a membership that somehow allowed us in to sign up under her name and go to lessons for a fee. I had a dark blue swimsuit with white polka dots and a little blue and white striped skirt. I loved the swim suit (that was obviously before I cared how I looked in swimwear), but I hated the lessons. I'm guessing it would have been helpful for me to be able to practice swimming between lessons, but that would have required a membership to be able to go to the pool other than at lesson time.  Oh well. I did learn to tread water, so that's something.

I don't remember much about the classes other than when it was time for us to learn to jump off the diving board. We all had to line up by the ladder and wait our turn. I was terrified. I remember wishing I could just leave and not have to stand there in line dreading having to walk out on that board. Sure, it was only 4 feet above the water (or however far the standard is... don't feel like looking it up), but they may as well have been asking me to skydive with no parachute. When it was my turn, I would walk out to the end of the board and look down and just stand there. The instructors would be telling me to jump, that they would get me as soon as I jumped in. Yeah, right. I trust you. Finally, after I stood there long enough without jumping, they would let me walk back up the board to the ladder and climb down without jumping. Every week. Walk to the end, stand there, walk back, climb down.

I remember one girl who all the instructors loved. She ALWAYS jumped. And sometimes took an extra turn. And the last week of class, she jumped off the high dive. I hated that girl. Well, actually, I didn't hate her. I was jealous that she wasn't scared. I think I spent most of my childhood being scared. I'm not sure what made me think of all this and remember this swimming thing, but I was in bed last night thinking about it for a long time. In a way, I'm still that scared little girl. I'm scared of everything... that something bad will happen or I'll mess something up to the point that I won't be able to repair it. But, in a lot of ways, I've learned to push that scared little girl off the end of the diving board. Someone who is always scared would never go on a trip alone to Spain. Would never have kids. Would not get tattoos. Would not put her thoughts online for anyone to read. I will probably never not be scared, but it's good to keep making myself jump.

Even if I don't like swimming.


  1. ohhh I love that last line..Probably something that I need to put into practice in my own life.

  2. I can't swim either, but this post made me realize that maybe I should take that leap in the pool and try again. Thanks.