swimming day two: the frog kick flail


I went back to the pool today. I had mentally prepared myself to be around whoever was there. I regularly remind myself that it’s okay to be in the weight room at the Wellness Center or to use the track for a run (really, a walk with spurts of very slow jogging.) My inner monologue usually includes pep talks about how I need workouts more than people who already look like they work out. I pay monthly dues and I get to go swimming. It’s part of the deal. So yeah, today it was time to swim and I hoped if I pretended I was intentional in my pool workout, people would be fooled into thinking I knew what I was doing.

The first twenty minutes of swim time was fantastic. Everyone in the pool area was fooled into thinking I knew exactly what I was doing. I was the only one in the pool area.

Today I did what I usually do: I asked teenagers for advice, paid close attention and then promptly disregarded their advice in favor of what made more sense to me. Two of the young women on the swim team explained the butterfly, the back stroke and the front stroke (?) to me. I paid close attention, moving my arms the way they moved their arms. I tried to figure out how to kick like a frog.

I doggy paddled for a little bit. I floated on my back, propelling myself backwards by flailing my arms and randomly kicking my legs. In my head, I looked calm, peaceful and totally in control of my actions. I even learned how to steer after veering close to the ladder on the side of the pool. I was rocking this swimming thing. I was applying what my teenage friends had shown me. That is, until I accidentally splashed water while lifting my arms up and out of the water. About six drops of water hit my face and I was convinced that I was drowning in the pool and there was no lifeguard to save me. I sputtered, righted myself in the water and then swam peacefully again until I crashed into the side of the pool. Then and there I decided water hitting the face was against my swimming rules. Don’t even suggest goggles to me. I am not that intense. I am not Michael Phelps.

Once I figured out I could sort of kick under water and move my arms under water, I did just that. I was in the middle of my third or fourth lap, proud of my ingenuity and sure that I looked just like a swimmer when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.

This jerk had the nerve to wear a swim cap and goggles near my pool. Then he jumped off the side, much like real swimmers jump off of the blocks at the beginning of the race. He did the butterfly. I didn’t– too much splashing! He did the back stroke and both arms actually came out of the water. I didn’t– it messed up my steering. He did some breast stroke. He swam back and forth and back and forth at a pretty good clip. He didn’t have to stop every time he hit the wall. He did that underwater flip thing that real swimmers do. I can’t do that. I was bothered by this so much that once again I splashed pool water in my face, this time hitting my nose.

I was intimidated by him. I decided instead of flailing through more laps, I would stretch and kick at the side of the pool. I did that for about thirty seconds before I realized even I couldn’t pretend to believe that I had any clue what I was doing. I called it a day and headed for the hot tub. By then, a few kids had shown up play with toys in the pool. Mr. SwimCapGogglesRealSwimmer kept swimming. He’s probably still there doing laps.

I returned home, proud of myself for trying again to swim. I’m not a duck yet but I did try to be a frog. At best I was a frog with a limp, kicking my way back and forth across the pool a dozen or so times. I had fun. I think I learned a little bit about swimming and water. I’m not sure if tomorrow will be day 3 of swimming but there will be a day 3 of swimming. Mom tells me she has a spare pair of goggles. How hardcore is that? I might borrow them and try them. No deal with a swim cap, though, unless that would fool people into thinking I know what I’m doing in a pool. Hmmm.

About SaraBSutter

I serve as the pastor of United Presbyterian Church in Goldfield, Iowa. My husband Steve and I are excited to be in a friendly small town and look forward to the years ahead. In addition to nerdy church stuff, I love reading books, writing, good coffee, cats, and football.

One response »

  1. Good for you. I tend to feel intimidated by people at the gym, too — especially when I’m at the weight machines and have to move the pin from 150 pounds down to 30 and I see people who are bench pressing twice my weight. But I figure they had to start somewhere, too. Plus, I’m doing what I need to do and what I can do for my body, and I don’t need to compare. It’s not *really* a competition, even though it feels like one in my head sometimes.

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