Personal Challenges : Learning to Swim at Age 31

I’ve never really been a very strong swimmer…

Which sounds kind of weird because I went through a period when I was really into SCUBA diving, and I’m even fortunate enough to have a pool in my own backyard these days, but I’ve always been afraid of being in water over my head and it’s a problem that plagues me to this very day.

I remember my parents having me take swimming lessons there for a while at one of the local hotel pools, but I guess it just never really stuck. Whenever we had water-related activities to do in scouts, I’d typically duck out or come up with an excuse of why I had to be someplace else at the time instead. And I think the main reason that I was ok with diving was because not only did I have my own personal oxygen tank strapped to my back, but also a fancy flotation device working from that very same air … it’s a lot easier to maintain one’s confidence when the fear of drowning has some dedicated lifelines to fall back on!

That said, I know that this is something that I want to get over because Sara has expressed an interest in someday getting into SCUBA diving together, which I think would be a lot of fun, but I don’t think I’m anywhere ready for it today. In fact, the memory still sticks out in my head of when we went snorkeling in the Cayman Islands a couple of years ago during our anniversary cruise, and I … had issues. I wasn’t very confident in holding my face in the water with just the snorkel, I figured that I could float in the salt water fine without a life jacket and I couldn’t, and then I panicked even further because Sara wandered off ahead of me while I was going through this … which was a problem because sticking by your buddy was one of the big things that I took out of dive training when I earned my certification back in high school. The whole thing was pretty embarrassing for me because I didn’t end up seeing much or having a lot of fun, and I probably killed a crap load of coral by trying to stand up in various areas in my panic attacks!

The point is, I want to get better and so I’m trying to figure out little ways that I can work towards that goal.

I think a huge part of it is simply being comfortable in water over my head, so I was playing around with a couple of things in the pool the other night that I think might help. First was, I pulled out my old mask & snorkel and just started playing around with that. It’s obviously a much different feel breathing through a snorkel than you would normally, so it might take some time to get re-acclimated so that I’m not panicked as my air is now being filtered through this tiny tube!

…especially when it randomly gets water in it!  😯

The other thing I was trying was just floating with a pool toy – one of those foam noodles, to be exact. And as odd as it might sound, I think it actually helped because I could rest on the noodle in the deep end where I can’t touch, and I could feel my breathing starting to relax whereas I usually get very stressed when I’m in over my head. Eventually I want to learn how to actually tread water so that I can float on my own, but right now I think my breathing just gets so sporadic that I just flail my arms and legs and run out of energy too fast!

It’s all a gradual process, but as I’m actually starting to lose weight productively, it gives me a new way to exercise and also work on a brand new goal as well … plus, the weather’s finally warm enough that I can swim at night without freezing my ass off, so that’s certainly a bonus, too! Eventually I’d also like to see if I can work up to bringing some of my old SCUBA gear out to the pool and playing around with that, but there’s a whole new level of hoops to go through there (some of it is old and might need repair, not sure if I can even get tanks refilled with my cert. being so old and no active dive log, etc…). I don’t really have any goal to get back into diving this year, but ultimately in addition to losing weight so that I don’t need 80 pounds of lead to weigh me down, I know that actually becoming a proficient swimmer would be a big help, too.

I’ll probably post more about it this summer as I progress. Hopefully I can start to feel comfortable enough with these two initial exercises that I can break off into others as well – maybe try some diving while snorkeling for rings or something … I never was any good at that! I don’t like not being able to swim and it’s frustrating because I do enjoy spending time in the water, on boats, and so forth, so it’s really a necessity as well as a personal goal that I finally learn how to do it.

I suppose 31 years old is still better than never, right?!  😆

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *