Sink or Swim


My boys are growing up in the world of Northern Virginia Summer Swim Team.  It’s terrific.  They are learning a very important life skill, swimming, as well as how to deal with the pressures of competing.  They are also benefitting from being on a team that consists of 5-18 year olds.  Those big kids are great swim coaches as well as role models.  It’s really something that brings the community together like nothing else does.

I grew up in New England, where there aren’t swimming pools in each neighborhood.  I learned the basics over a few summers.  It was good.  However, I have learned that learning the basics for a few weeks does NOT give you the skills to be an endurance swimmer.

Last summer I thought that it would be fun to do a mini triathlon at a neighboring pool.  I can run, I can bike.  But can I swim?  Surely if I just practice I’ll get better, right?


After swimming the length of the pool I’m completely out of breath.  My husband, who knows that I can run for miles upon miles, was surprised at how completely exhausted I was.  And I wasn’t improving, which was the really frustrating part!

So, I decided to take a lap swim class at the Rec Center during the winter.

The prerequisites were the ability to swim 50 meters in free, back, and breast.  I could do that.  (Barely in freestyle)

When I got to the first class, there was a couple there who were excellent swimmers.  They’ve been taking this class for a long time.  A couple of weeks before the class, they swam a mile.

There was a sweet older lady who had flippers in the lane next to me.

And then there was me.  Oh boy.  My instructor has her work cut out for her with me!

She figured out that she needed to bring me back to basics.  My form is terrible.

I practiced twice during the week and mustered up the courage to show my face again for week 2.

She had a lesson plan for the super swimmers and a different one for the lesser swimmers.  As long as she doesn’t mind, I certainly don’t!

My lessons are for 9 weeks.  Here are my goals:

  1. Relax in the water, especially when attempting freestyle.
  2. Keep my head level so my legs don’t sink!
  3. Swim at least twice a week.

They are pretty basic goals, but I need to work on the basics!  As my instructor said, “I want you to have a foundation like a rock instead of sand.”  How biblical!





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