Apr 25, 2013

Swimming Lessons Day 1: Breathe Then Let Go

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The dreaded swimming lesson has commenced last Tuesday.  

Day 1:  Breathing, Bubbling and Floating

I am just probably good at hiding the panicked look on my face. In reality, I was close to wailing as the instructor never got in the water to ease us and become comfortable in water. I felt I needed some coaxing into the water, a bit of telling me what to actually expect and give some assurances or at least make me relax. I needed her to be beside me in the water. None of that happened. The instructor simply told us where to get down on the pool while she's comfortably sitting at the edge.  

I had to tell her I have a great fear of submerging my head in the water.  She has to know that, although by the looks of things, she didn't have to be guessing for long.  The bubbling and breathing part, I got that.  I only felt the slightest fear as she told us to take deep breaths, submerge and exhale through the nose.  I tried to haggle if it was alright to breathe out through the mouth because I am more comfortable with that.  She told me to practice with my nose, so I did that.  I have to learn properly and not insist on what is easier or more comfortable.  I figured that much.  Free-styling comes in the later parts of the lessons, not during the basic drills.  

Bubbling was easy.  Next, we took in deep breaths, this time holding it under water for about 10 seconds.  So far so good.  I can even hold it longer than that but I'm not there to show off my holding-your-breath skills so again, I just did what was instructed.  All that time with the breathing exercises, I had my eyes closed.  I realized that it was a bit of a torture (more a mental one) to be robbed of two senses simultaneously, even for just a few seconds.  But I held off using my goggles for the meantime so that it would be easier to rub the water off my face when I emerge on the surface.

Next step, she told us to grab the side of the pool, and do the holding your breath routine, this time attempting to make the body float.  Uh-oh.  I have never learned to float on my own.  Vivid memories came to mind.  Years before, whenever I try to ask a friend to teach me how to do it, I only float because she's holding my belly to keep me steady.  The moment she takes her hands off, you would see me thrashing in the water, panic gripping me so hard I didn't have the sense to just stand up and get my head out of the water.  I was that pathetic or funny, as you choose to see it.  But for me, the fear is very real.

So when the instructor told us to let our bodies float, it took me a while to finally feel my feet and legs rising up and leveling with the rest of my body.  She said the air in my lungs keeps me afloat so the moment I breathe out, I would sink.  I'm good with sinking hehehe.  I didn't stop doing that drill until I was less afraid with the sense that I am still partially submerged, but floating nevertheless.  The moment I felt the water carrying me, I was ecstatic and I would have stayed in that position, forever savoring the feel of floating, but I couldn't hold my breath that long.

Okay, so I know how to float face down...but not totally free.  I'm still holding to the pool gutter.  So when our instructor told us to let go, my hands wouldn't.  And I tell you, I have a good firm grip where any threat to my existence is felt hehehe.  I'm just glad she let me do things on my own pace.  So when I finally had the courage to float freely, she encouraged me to just keep practicing that and not pushing me to do other things.  For the rest of the time, it was a battle of wits once again as I slowly eased my hands off the gutter.  At some point, I thought my fingertips was just a hair's breadth from the tiles so I thought it was okay if I had another surge of panic attack, I could just grab hold of the gutter again.  Good thing my feet were quicker than my hands or I would have been flailing my hands again because I floated far enough that I couldn't grab hold of anything but water.  

I'm still learning how to transition properly from floating to standing up.  I was told I need to fold my knees at the same time then stand up, but I always have my left leg initiating the action with my right leg catching up.  I'll figure it out but I've already made quite a progress.

Whew!  So, I survived day 1 and it wasn't that bad, even for a panic-stricken adult student like me.  I do realize that the key is obeying what the instructor tells you to do but more importantly, it  is for me to let go of my fears.  I still struggle with that but I hope that my determination is much stronger and I would slowly build up my confidence one breath, one stroke at a time.


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25 comments:

  1. Swimming is one of my frustrations. Wish I could learn how to swim too.

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  2. Glad to hear that you are learning to swim. It will take some time but I am sure you will be able to overcome that fear.

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  4. Sis, you can! Ako nga, I can't even do simple floating before this.

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  5. Go go go! It's actually fun!

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  6. I'm still fearful sometimes, but as long as it's not the hysterical fear that grips me, I think I'll survive. :-)

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  7. Aral ka na Max...promise ang saya and very liberating to float....face down ha...kasi sabi instructor ko, ang daming marunong mag-floating face up, but never really know how to swim.

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  8. Naku I am always nerbiyosa kaya feeling ko hinde ko kakayanin ito :( Swimming and driving are not for me.


    Mommy Maye

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  9. I want to learn but I got no time. hehehe..may excuse talaga..

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  10. I was so intent reading your post, Aileen. Feel na feel ko because I also panic when I'm in the water! Huhuhu. I don't think I have the courage to pay for a swimming instructor kasi I think he or she will lose patience with me. My boyfriend's a swimmer nga, pero ayaw ko rin magpaturo sa kanya. Hopeless case?

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  11. No you're not a hopeless case. I am scared also but I wanted the same freedom that others feel in the water. That's why the title is "breathe then let go." Simply put, it's knowing the basics and putting fear at bay. Sometimes, you got to take that first unsure step to find out if you have it in you to do something. I have two words: MINDSET and COURAGE...so far it's doing me good :-)

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  12. I'll tell my story in one of my posts so you'll know that I am as nervous, or even more nervous than you are....

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  13. The best way daw to conquer your fear is to go through it. I've knows a couple of people who are also afraid of the water. Solution, they get into scuba diving :D



    Hindi ako takot lumubog sa tubig pero hind ako natutong lumangoy :D Kahit nga alam kong hindi ako marunong lumangoy, hindi ako masyadong takot pumunta sa malalim as along as naabot pa ng paa ko ang sea floor. Mejo kampante akong lulutang ako dahil may built-in akong salbabida sa tyan :p

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  14. I am amazed at how well you've documented your progress. I felt like I was there with you sis. Good one! :)

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  15. This was fun to read. Glad to learn that you survived day 1! Lol! By the way, how old are your classmates? I'm curious. My daughter won't allow me to join any of her summer activities.

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  16. Breathing has always been my problem whenever I swim. Lagi akong may naiinom na water every time I tilt my head. So, I always hold my breath as long as I can. :)

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  17. i love reading your post. it feels like i was with you the whole time! enjoy your swimming lessons, sis! :-)

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  18. Same here kaya pahabaan na lang ng holding the breath hahaha

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  19. Sis, you know my age right? Well most students are 10 years younger and there is one, I think who is 10 years my senior...when you're in the pool, it doesn't really matter. We all start at the baseline even if some can already float. Ako I started at pit bottom lol!

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  20. Hahaha! I'm tempted tuloy to just gorge out food para meron din ako salbabida lol!... Seriously, I sink as if my bone is made of lead or other metal...wolverine ang peg hahaha!

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  21. Iread this entry, I need some pointers for our swimming on Monday. =)

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  22. I just learn to swim recently. My parents is planning to have a pool in the backyard.
    SwimNJ.com

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  23. You're FUNNY!


    hehehe :)

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  24. In a pool, yes lol! Even more hilarious while I was on the diving board, as if there were sharks in the pool.

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