Thursday, July 26, 2007

Station Five

Funny how memories, especially ones that involve large groups of people, embarrassment, fear and a host of other emotions can come back to haunt a person, no matter how much time has elapsed.

It was my sixth summer I believe and time to leave the little "guppy pool" at the park and learn how to swim with the big kids.

There were many of us that summer that signed on for the lessons. The groups were large, time was short, so we were grouped according to age and then expected to progress from station to station mastering different aspects of water safety and know how by the time we got to station 12 and the DEEP END.

Notice I said there was a deep definition of deep end was anywhere in the pool beyond the 3 FT. mark. (most of us soon to be in first grade were not so tall) Anyway, for the first four stations I moved along quite nicely. I was bonding with the other kids, splashing and using the kick board in the proper manner. All was good until I came to STATION FIVE.

"What do you mean we are supposed to jump in?" The instructor had just informed our group that we would line up, jump in (this was the 5 ft above our head area) then paddle back to the side. The 'lesson" at this station was that we could indeed hold our breath as we "went under". I was o.k. with the jumping in part...(well sort of o.k.) A person can only move to the back of the line so many times before the instructors notice that you have yet to complete the task. To this day I am not sure how I managed to muster up the courage to finally jump in...what still amazes me is that I was able to jump in and NOT get my face wet!! I actually think that is a good anti drowning tactic, however the instructors did not care for my unique style. We were shuffled through the exercise repeatedly and each time I was able to jump in and keep my face from ever getting wet! If I remember correctly, the instructors even tried to get the "more advanced" teacher to coach me. It didn't work.

So my "group" moved on the Staion 6, Station 7 and so on and so on, WAVING at me from the OTHER side of the pool while I spent the remainder of the summer session at STATION FIVE.

Years passed and I finally, sort of, overcame my extreme aversion to getting my face wet. Deciding to relinquish my "stuck at Station Five" label, I participated in a mini triathlon, (you know where you bike, run and SWIM). I asked if a snorkle and swim mask would be permitted. (they thought I was joking) Making sure I did not slap the other swimmer in my lane, (and that I stayed in my lane) the BACK STROKE seemed to be the logical answer to the swim part of the competition.

I call it working with what you got.

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