I learned swimming exactly 18 years back in Adelaide and almost forgot it entirely since I did not practice at all once I finished the 10 lessons.
My daughter on the other hand began weekly swimming lessons when she was three and has continued ever since.
The summer vacation of April-May 2014 again saw me making my way to a swim school in Bangalore. This was one held at a school near my home, making it accessible and the Olympic sized pool seemed immensely inviting. The fee was only Rs. Three thousand and the organisers and coach claimed confidently that I would be able to swim within the 15 sessions.
I decided to take the plunge, once more. After all I had always wanted to master the art of the fish and glide around as effortlessly in water.
A few things struck me in the 15 sessions that the coach trained us in and I will share them here.
Effort and ease-balance
Strangely there can be something like too much effort. One can keep making efforts and allow oneself to get stressed when one hasn’t got any further with learning a particular thing. If I got caught up with moving my arms and legs and breathing, all at the same time and lost my sense of inner ease, I would sink. When I made myself take part of my mind away from the effort and brought it to rest in such a way that I enjoyed whatever progress I made, it all worked out well.
On day one for about 10 minutes, putting my head under water felt like an ordeal. When I was okay with that, then letting go of the edge of the pool and letting the body float felt like a big ask, for another ten minutes. Finally what made each new bit I learned click into place was trust in the trainer, his teaching in what he obviously excelled at, as well as his being there, to protect in the case of a mishap. Trust in myself also kicked in along with trust in the greater energy that protects.
Weightlessness of lack of control-back float
How we love to be in control. The lack of it feels like the ground is slipping from beneath our feet. The back float needed the letting go of any need to control the body, in any way. No sooner had I done that I was floating, looking up at the blue sky. The second any fear or hesitation crept into me, I sank.
Fear- action despite fear
On day 7, the coach took our batch to the deep end of the pool, to dive. I was horrified. We had just learned to swim for a couple of breaths before we sank into the shallow end of the pool, where we were being taught and had to stand up and re-start.
We simply had to dive and swim towards the shallow end of this gigantic pool. I was scared and each time I dived, despite knowing that the coach was right there, I went in shivering slightly. However as the inward dive culminated into an upward arc, I managed, same as the others to swim and breathe and swim and breathe, till I reached the shallow end. So also many a time in life, action needs to be taken, come what may.
It was interesting to see how the fear of drowning worked wonders. Then on all of were swimming for many more breaths.
Rain and swimming-a different perspective of nature
It began to rain one evening, while we were still in the pool. Drops fell on us, which we didn’t mind one bit since we were already wet. It was a unique experience to be in water and feel the raindrops falling on our heads. Unfortunately we were asked to pack up early due to the fear of lightening.
The sight of the moon in the sky and tall trees on one side of the pool as we floated and swam was hypnotic.
Interestingly, being inside the water element instead of the regular terra-firma gave nature a rich, new feel.
Ego and learning-cannot be together
A very obvious point and one which goes with any learning is this. There were swimmers whose styles were rural and largely self-taught. They swam well but they were ready to start from zero and learn swimming from scratch. Ego had no place here.
If a person can’t be a fish it’s okay-acceptance
We started with various thoughts goading each one of us. One wanted to change one’s style, one wanted to improve technique, one wanted to be more graceful and few simply wanted to be able to swim.
Whatever the initial motivation and dream one had, one had to be able to enjoy and appreciate what one learned. Even if one hadn’t reached the point where one wanted to be, it was okay.
I had to accept that I had learned swimming but needed lots of practice. This acceptance had to be an enthusiastic one so that I would then continue to persist and practice as and when possible, enjoying and appreciating the entire process.
I have continued to practice whenever the weather is suitable, in the apartment swimming pool, oh! the joy of splashing water, playing and swimming laps with the eight year old is unparalleled. Sometimes this even is a family event, with the husband joining us.
I can’t say I am any closer to gliding about like a fish than I ever was, but a fish can’t walk can it
About Sunila Vig
Sunila lived in Australia for twelve years and all over India as a child. Now she lives in Bangalore, India with her family.
She is a lecturer of Communication to MBA students and is a practising Yoga teacher.
Sunila was introduced to books by book-loving parents at an early age and devoured them at every opportunity.
Nature, music and art mean a lot to her and she loves solitude and noisy fun in equal measure.
She expresses herself through a variety of creative channels-singing, pottery, sketching and writing.
Sunila writes fiction and poetry both in English and Hindi. Her debut collection of short stories in Hindi, “Nirjharr”, was published by the Karnataka Hindi Sahitya Parishad.
Poetry and short stories authored by her have been published in a variety of medium.
She is a Post graduate in English Literature from Kuvempu University in the verdant Malnad region of Karnataka, that has given the world a large number of writers and artists.
She can be reached through her FB page