I’ve been swimming regularly again for the last few weeks after a bit of a break and am excited to report that I have also signed up for an open water swimming “course” in spring. It’s an 8 week period of swimming twice a week in the sea off either Clifton or Camps Bay. It’s going to be freezing and a bit scary but it will give me a much better idea of the challenges of the Robben Island Swim.
For some reason this focus on swimming has brought back memories of swimming lessons when I was in pre-school; I absolutely dreaded them! I would get a sick feeling in my stomach when my mom told me it was a swimming day.
My swimming teacher, Mrs B, was a big, strong lady with a loud voice and a no-nonsense manner. Looking back I can see that she wasn’t unkind but at the time I was terrified of her. She seemed larger than life and very threatening to a timid four year old.
Mrs B had a fairly large round portapool which was a little deeper than the top of my head. It had a metal ladder for climbing in and out. I remember having to swim towards her and feeling like she would never let me catch her as I struggled to get my head out the water to breathe at the same time as frantically kicking and paddling to get to her. I was sure that even if I sank to the bottom she wouldn’t come and get me.
Another memory is of Mrs B pushing me towards the ladder, I swam as fast as I possibly could, heart pounding as I climbed the ladder trying to escape. Somehow I had the idea that if i could just get to my mom, who was sitting watching, she would hold me on her lap and keep me safe. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite fast enough and Mrs B caught me at the last second and pried my hands off the ladder.
I’m very grateful that those lessons didn’t put me off swimming for life and that they gave me the foundation I needed to go on to learn to swim properly and enjoy it so much today.
I wonder if Mrs B dreaded my lessons as much as I did! 🙂