What swimming taught me about life
The first and only time I remember getting drowned was sometime in 2004/2005, I and some of the other top swimmers in my school were invited to a swimming competition.
No, it wasn’t caused by overconfidence I believe, it was just “something that happened”. I was at the end of that lap, one minute I thought I had touched the slab of the pool, the next minute, the cheers and screams from the onlookers were suddenly drowned all I could see was blurry blue, the next thing I was outside the pool.
I remember the times our swimming instructor talked to us about “drowning”, it was always a stern warning and he talked about it mostly in regards to the “deep end” of our school pool.
Never in my life did I think I’d ever get drowned, let alone in a pool twice as deep as the pool I was used to.
When I decided I wanted to learn how to swim, I did so because I was tired of being in the “swallow end” with literally almost all the kids that were meant to swim on that day. It always ended up like the Balogun market of the 90s.
I also noticed that I dreaded it when I had to leave the pool, and although the changing room was almost always cold, smelly, and creepy, I believe I would rather visit the place every day if it meant I would get to swim every day.
For two summers straight, I attended swimming lessons, and finally graduated to the deep end. *happy dance*. I went on to become one of the best swimmers at that time in my school, and even after the drowning experience, I swam for my house during the inter-house sport and won a medal for my house.
So what exactly did swimming teach me?
During the training stages, we were taught how to stay underwater for a while, how to kick( probably my worse), how to swim continuously from one end to another, etc etc.
I kicked till my legs hurt, and my instructor would keep saying go on. It was painful but sweet. I learned a lot about persistence with things.
Staying underwater wasn’t so funny at first, because “how would you decide to just stay underwater”? But the truth is the harder I pushed myself, the better it was for me. Thinking about it, it taught me about doing the needful, even if it’s hard.
Swimming from one end to another eventually became monotonous, but now I realize that it built something in me. A resistance, a will to keep going, a will to master the art of swimming.
When I was finally ready to go to the deep end as decided by my swimming coach, it had to be a gradual process.
First I had to spend some time in the middle-end before I could proceed to the deep end.
The period of the deep end came, and then I was faced with the issue of “diving”.
From here, I also learned that at every stage in life, we have new obstacles. It was no longer about kicking or staying underwater, at that time I had to trust that what I learned in the shallow end was enough to take me through the new stage I was in.
Our instructor almost always made sure we knew he’d always get in to rescue us if anything happened, but we had to try.
I think I can recall that we were pushed once or twice, and we had to gain balance and swim our way to the other side.
Well, I finally dived, and just the fact that I had to stay afloat was enough to keep me swimming to safe grounds.
Thinking of the diving process and life teaches me a lot. Life is full of challenges, things we think we can’t face or we just don’t want to face. For some, we are forced to face them, for the others we have to decide to face them or not, but the truth is that as far as we decide to keep going we would most likely make it through.
As time went on, I was taught how to “tread” in the deep end. Although I still liked staying by the ladder or by the walls, I was now comfortable in the deep end. I could swim from wherever I was to where I wanted to go to, I could stay underwater, and I could dive without even thinking twice.
Five years after the last time I swam, I was faced with a new swimming challenge. I went for a summer leadership training, and I had to swim. This time there was a deep or shallow end, it was plain “seawater”, coupled with a creepy-looking ship a few miles away. I was scared all over. I knew I could swim very well, but it had been a while, besides, “the actual sea”?
Anyway, I swam, thank goodness we had a safety jacket, which honestly didn’t do so much because I watched someone drink seawater like it was juice, even as she was clothed in the safety jacket. I was commended for my swimming skills *happy dance*, and I couldn’t help but be grateful for those painful exercises I had to go through to become the swimmer I’ve become.
So in the biggest nutshell possible, I’d just say, the foundation of anything we do is very important. Doing things painstakingly at the beginning always has benefits.
Also, things take time and it’s important to just keep at them even if it seems like we’ve been on them forever.
On this note, I sign off.
Go and learn how to swim, but don’t be scared of diving, you’ll be fine.
Until next time,
Keep your head up.
Love Always, E. 💕