When I was 24 or 25, I decided it would be a good idea if I learned how to swim. I was 9 when my brother drowned, and after that terrible day my parents' view toward water turned hostile. That, combined with the fact that my hair blossomed into humungous fuzz whenever it got wet, ensured that I made it through three years of junior high school swimming classes without ever putting my head in the water.
But then I got a little older and figured swimming lessons would be a good idea.
My friend Pam and I signed up together. Not pmiller, but a different Pam--a sweet, shy woman with round wire-rimmed glasses and a long ponytail down her back. The class was called "Beginning swimming lessons for adult non-swimmers." It sounded about as basic as possible, which was exactly what I needed.
So we suited up and shivered our way out to the YMCA pool, the sharp smell of chlorine prickling our nostrils. Only to find that we were the only students in the class.
The instructor was a college boy. He was probably only a few years younger than we were, but he made us feel dumpy and matronly. He called us "ladies."
He sat on the edge of the pool in swim shorts and a t-shirt, and he told us that the previous class--a jam-packed hour full of beginning swimmer toddlers--had worn him out. He said he was glad that our class was small.
His lack of energy and enthusiasm should have been a warning.
That day, he taught us to float. We lay on our stomachs on the water, grasped foam boards, stretched our arms out in front of us, and floated around the pool.
The next Saturday he taught us another float. And the next Saturday. And the next.
We learned to float on our backs. We learned the jellyfish float. We floated for hours while he sat on the side of the pool and, I don't know, watched us? Presumably. Or daydreamed about his girlfriend? Or napped after his boisterous hour with the preschoolers?
Finally, on the fourth Saturday, we asked him when we were going to learn some strokes. We felt like we had this floating stuff down cold.
"You're not ready yet," he said. And he told us to practice the jellyfish float again.
With the jellyfish float, your arms and legs hang straight down, like the tentacles of a jellyfish, while your back and the top of your rump stick out of the water. Pam obediently went into the jellyfish hunch and started floating out toward the deep end.
I looked at the instructor with worry. "Go get her," he said.
Ah. One nonswimmer bouncing out into the deep water to rescue another nonswimmer, whose head was in the water and couldn't hear a thing. Excellent idea.
I bounced down the pool toward the deep end, and when I was within reach, I stretched out and grabbed Pam by the arm. This surprised her, and she panicked and thrashed and nearly pulled me under.
The instructor laughed.
She and I bounced back to the shallow end. "That's it for today, ladies," he said. "See you next week."
What do you think we did?
Dodge Nature Center
11 hours ago