I’ve never been a swimmer. My parents sent me to swim lessons as a child but they didn’t stick. I took group lessons as a young adult and they didn’t stick either. I did, however, learn to be an excellent drowning victim. Go limp when the rescue swimmer gets to you. Don’t fight it. Let them rescue you. They know what they’re doing.
It’s perhaps due to my excellent skills at drowning that I’m vaguely afraid of the water, prefer showers to baths, and consider the ocean to be a very pretty bowl of excrement and semen. I get that that’s not the right attitude. I do. Really.
But I have bad knees. Specifically, I have bad cartilage in my knees. They have never been great, but as I’ve gotten old and fatter, they are worse now than ever. When you have bad knees and want to lose weight to make things easier on your knees, everyone tells you to swim.
So because Olivia Pope on Scandal swims and she looks great, and more importantly has fabulous coats, I decided to give it a try. Although, when I told my personal trainer, Matt, that I expected to emerge from the pool as a beautiful black woman with fabulous coats, he gave me a confused look before laughing nervously.
Despite being somewhat disturbed by my goal setting, Matt is a good instructor. The first week we practiced kicking with a kick board until I could make it the length of the pool. I was able to slowly go the entire 22.5 meters. I practiced on my own a few days later. Today I had my second class. We continued with the kick board and then had me lean back on a noodle in a reclining position and kick that way. He explained how the backstroke worked and then I tried ditching the noodle and adding in the arm motion. And it worked. I very slowly (although faster than with the kick board) did a back stroke the entire not-standard-olympic length of the pool and I’m feeling pretty darn good about it.
I don’t think I’m in any danger of being invited to join a swim team, and I’m a little confused about when the coat shopping happens in the whole process, but I think it’s going well.