So confession. Up until this semester I could not swim. I had lessons as a kid and my mom tried to get me accumulated to the water, but I hated it. I hated putting my head under. Anytime someone went into deep water I would panic because I though they were going to drown. But this semester I shocked everyone (including myself) by signing up for a swim class. As an adult it is very different learning then as a kid and here's what I went through with it.
1. People constantly think it's weird you cannot swim.
People really like to swim shame. A lot of people like to laugh and tell you how weird it is. In a culture which has built an entire season around this romanticized idea of a pool (aka a death hole) anyone who can't swims get's that it's weird.
2.People are constantly amazed you have not drowned yet.
I get people asking me how I have not drowned yet all the time. Generally I stay away from deep water which I know I can't stand in and don't go far into the ocean. Don't ask what happens if a flood hits. If a flood hits we're all dying.
3. People try to teach you. All the time. Literally every time you are within a general rarea of a pool.
I don't care how many people you have taught or how well your intentions are, don't do this. You cannot teach your grown ass friends to swim. Maybe you can teach other adults but the dynamic is completely different. The level of trust it takes when someone tells you to go in the deep end will not be there with a friend. A few hours or weeks in the pool will not suddenly teach them to swim.
4. Someone/event pressures you into taking a class (thanks mom).
When you promise your mom you'll learn how to swim during college, you learn how to swim during college dammit.
5. You sign up and have to actually get in the pool.
That was awful. Putting your head underwater is awful. Ya'll know you can't breath under water right? I still firmly believe avoiding water is actually really good survival instinct.
6. Trying to figure out how to put a swim cap on is the struggle.
Putting a condom on is easier the first time. Especially when you have to get all the hair up into the cap and keep it from folding in on itself. But that's the price we must pay to keep our hair from getting destroyed by chlorine in the pool.
7. You soon realize you're not alone in the not knowing how to swim thing.
My class had 15 kids in it when it started and their was a wait list. There are also four RA's meaning I was not alone. Hell I have friends who never learned how to swim properly or can't swim well or can technically swim but are uncomfortable in the water. Reality is this "life skill" is a skill a lot of people lack. Maybe they did not have access to water, a proper teacher, time, or lessons growing up. Or maybe they were like me and experienced intense anxiety surrounding deep water from an early age. Point is a lot of people can't swim and there is no shame in not being able to.
8. You feel awkward and out of place in the water.
As a trained dancer so I have pretty good control over my body and getting it to do what I want it to. Put me in the pool and suddenly my legs have no idea what they are doing. The second I put my head under water it would get worse because suddenly everything felt frantic and my muscles did not know how to move anymore, even though I could easily stand in the water. It's just a weird feeling.
8.5 . If you had some swim classes as a kid your body remembers some things.
It turns out I remember how to back float (that's literally all I did in swim class as a kid). So I dominated on back float day.
9. At certain point you stop hating the water.
I don't know when it happened but I stopped dreading swim class. I hated it no more then I hated any other 8:10. It was just a fact of life. I woke up way to early then went into the pool to flail around for a bit.
10. When you have a few moves under your belt you have to face the deep end.
When I learned how to tread water I was literally shaking. When I did my kneeling dive into the deep end tears were in my eyes. I only went in because a swim team member (and certified life guard) was in the next lane over to make sure we were okay. For some people they do it once and they're fine. For me every time I go in I still feel the need to cross myself.
11. You start feeling more comfortable in the pool as you spend more time there and get better at different strokes.
I may feel the need to cross myself but I'm no longer in tears. I can also do free style fairly comfortably, even if I'm pretty slow. It just takes time.
12. You start to actually kind of enjoy swimming.
I actually went to swim today, during free swim, of my own free will. Even though I have been in the deep end multiple times I still think how I am one stroke away from a watery death. And how drowning is often fast and silent. But at least it's not guaranteed anymore. Plus, I have been having lower back pain for the past year and swimming got rid of it. So maybe I'll stay in the shallow end to avoid the watery death part.
So what I am trying to say here is if you cannot swim in college now is the perfect time to learn. AU offers a beginning class each spring and they work honest to god miracles. The class is super supportive, we cheer each other on, help each other with new skills, and give a big round of applause whenever someone progresses to a new step. The members of the swim team who help out are enthusiastic and genuinely exciting that they get to teach you. No one cares or is judging that you can't swim. If they can teach me how to swim, the people at AU can teach anyone.