I went swimming today as part of my weight loss routine. As a small child I was a member of a swim team. I was not very good at it. My very first event at my very first swim meet was the backstroke. I do not think I had any goggles yet because I had my eyes closed the entire race. I bounced back and forth between the lane dividers and came in dead last. Thus began a short career of impressive mediocrity. Every swimmer would get a ribbon of different colors. My most common ribbon color was yellow for 4th place. Most races had 8 swimmers. I did get 2 first place blue ribbons. 1 for a relay race and a second in one of the most humiliating races I ever competed in. I am not sure how it happened but I was competing in a field of exactly 1. Since I was the only kid in the pool there was only 1 outcome. Yay I came in first, I guess it could have been worse.
One thing was true, I loved the water. I would swim every chance I got. I considered myself an otter.
My love of the water was a bit tempered on a trip to Florida when I was 15. It was my first view of the ocean and it was big. The sky was overcast so the water was dark and grey. The Atlantic was scary big and unlike the pools and lakes I grew up with, filled with any number of nasty creatures. I was also put off by the taste. Every picture of me at Cocoa Beach I am spitting water out of my mouth. Cocoa Beach is not a nice place anywhere so my first exposure to the ocean was not very pleasant.
My second trip was to the gulf coast. I liked that beach quite a bit. Lots of soft sand, calm blue water but I decided to just wade around. I was content to do that till I noticed a stingray that I came very close to stepping on. Oh yea so not cool. I charged out of the water and never went back in. My fear and dislike was, at the time, set in stone. Sadly the fear now extended to any natural body of water and I never felt comfortable in a lake or river again. I become too aware of the wildlife that might or might not be in the water with me. Like any other fear it was irrational but I had it.
Sadly Durango Colorado has very few opportunities for swimming. If one was very brave they could swim in the Animas River. It is called the river of lost souls for a reason and since it is snow fed the cold water made it unpleasant at best. My love of swimming waned pretty fast. I still adored swimming pools though.
It took a trip to Hawaii and the warm inviting waters of the Pacific Ocean to coax me back into the water. I rented a boogie board on the 4th of July 2002 and spent the day playing in the waves. Since it was a holiday and a public beach I spent the day with locals, getting the crap pounded out of me by the waves. I loved every minute of it. I spent the next few days digging sand out of nooks and crannies on my body that I never knew existed. Next up was fins, mask and snorkel.
I adored snorkeling, yes there were fish. I still have my fish identification card someplace. Jonette joined me for a bit. She freaked out when she saw a large red trigger fish eating coral. Jonette instantly determined that it was a shark and would eat her next. The fish was happily munching on coral so there was no way it would show any interest in her. Logic can never defeat irrational fear so she left the water. I still tease her about her “shark”
Before I return to Hawaii I want to be scuba certified.
Well back to today. I now suck at swimming. I first tried a freestyle stroke, my favorite from my youth. I was completely uncoordinated and splashing around going nowhere. I was embarrassed. I spent the rest of my time doing a modified breast stroke. I could do half a lap in 1 minute 10 seconds.
I will get better I promise I will but I am sad that I am no longer an otter.