I have never been an avid swimmer. I took lessons as a kid, and we went swimming ALOT, but I just never excelled at it.
Truththfully, I think I've always believed myself to be a better swimmer than I really am. Throughout my life, I've had a variety of bad water experiences, though I never really feared the water.
Once, when I was around the age of 5, and before I knew how to swim, I was with my babysitter at the lake. I watched her older son dive off the pier and swim to shore, which enticed me. So, while my babysitter bronzed herself in the sun and caught up on the latest gossip magazine, I went ahead and dove in….
Obviously, this led to my near drowning. I flailed my arms and inhaled water for a long time, before she finally finished her article and lifted her head, most likely in search of tanning oil. She saved me, but I'm not sure whether to consider her my hero, or the worst babysitter in the world! Either way, I survived, and it still didnt really make me scared of the water.
A few years later, around the age of ten, and after I learned to swim, I remember telling my “brand new step mother” that I was a VERY good swimmer. She was pleased to hear this and agreed to let me swim out to the deep part of the lake with her, where all the cool people hung out! We hung out at ALOT at this lake, when we were kids, but before this day I wasnt allowed to cross the floating rope line, that led to the deep.
I made it to the middle just fine, feeling so proud and grown up, knowing my brothers were looking on with envy. However, since I didn't have great swimming endurance yet, I nearly drowned on my way back. Keep in mind that my newfound mother grew up in California. She had learned to swim in the REAL ocean!
She turned around a couple of times to ask if I was okay. In reality, I was dying. My head was bobbing in and out of the water, my lungs were sore from inhaling a good amount of urine filled lake water, and I probably should have waited a whole half hour, after eating my bologna sandwich, before coming on this trip. But, I wanted her to think I was cool, so I fought for my life! So when she asked if I was ok, I would conger up my best dog paddle stroke, long enough to pull my head out of the water to say “Oh yeah! REAL good! Lets keep going”!
I'm not sure how I survived, but I did. I believed I had truly impressed this new Californian lady with my swimming techniques….. It wasn't until years later that she told me I was a horrible swimmer, and told my dad that very day, that she would never take me swimming in the deep water again! I'm glad she waited until I was older to take a stab at my self esteem, because I may not have made it to adulthood:).
On this latest trip I took to Mexico, I rented boogey boards with my kids. Each time we would catch a good wave to shore, we would get braver and braver, going a few extra steps deeper, to catch a better wave. Well, on three different occasions, and with three different children, the wave wouldn't take us, and the ocean kept pushing us out further. On all three occasions, I panicked and was yelling “LISTEN TO ME! SWIM SIDEWAYS. IT'S THE ONLY WAY WE ARE GOING TO MAKE IT TO SHORE SAFELY. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD….DON'T PANIC!
Obviously, I wanted the children to stay calm. In reality, we probably weren't out very far, but I couldn't touch! On one of the occasions, someone saw us paddling sideways to save ourselves and asked if we needed help. I said “please” as calmly as possible, and he basically walked to where we were and pulled us to safety. He told us we were lucky he was a life gaurd and we really should have stayed where we could touch!! I felt glad to be alive.
The other two times however, no one came to rescue us. We had to fight for our own lives. In my previous two stories, you may have noticed I fought hard for my life, knowing for sure that if I inhaled just a few more breaths of water I would be rewarded with life, and maybe a small case of pneumonia. This time, as an adult, I fought hard for about a minute, maybe two, AND I had a flotation device! We paddled hard sideways, until my breath became labored and my muscles became fatigued. Then I just laid my head on the boogey board, and thought “This is it. It's my time. I might as well not fight it. Take me waves, for my body has fought as long as it can”. Both times I was brought back out of my death hallucinations, by one of my kids saying “Watch out mama”, before a huge wave came crashing down on us, and took us to safety.
I'm not sure why I didn't fight as hard as an adult to live, than I did as I child, but it made one thing very clear to me in that instant…. I would have NEVER been a survivor of the TITANIC!!