Tuesday I started a new round of swimming lessons: Level 4. Contrary to what logic may tell you, Level 4 is not one level above Level 3. Turns out, it’s a gabazillion levels above it!
Level 3 class is held in the middle lap pool. I imagine the deepest point of that pool is possibly 6 feet in the middle. Shallow enough that I can bounce up and down on my toes, should I need or want to. Our class was full, and was conducted in one lane. Therefore, it was often necessary to wait on either end for the swimmers ahead of you to make some progress, some room, so you didn’t run into them. Everything I did was easy and manageable. I felt proud of myself after every lesson.
The difference between L4 and L3 is like the difference between walking briskly down a path and running down it. L4 is conducted in the Deep End. I am unsure of the length of either the Deep End and the middle pool, but I’d guesstimate that the lanes in the Deep End are 47 times as long as the middle pool. I might be overshooting a bit. Our class is only five people, and we have two lanes. Plenty of space for everyone. No need to wait after the first length.
I’ve known how to swim since I was a little girl. I am in no danger of drowning. However, swimming in deep end is just DIFFERENT. If someone in the next lane kicks a giant wave onto your face while you are doing the back stroke, and you start to cough and sputter, there is no bouncing up and down on your tippy toes while you catch your breath. There is something a little intimidating about that.
Everyone in the class is at a slightly different level than everyone else. In L3, I would say I was at the top of the skill level pile. Now I am definitely at the bottom. When I got in, the teacher told me to swim the front crawl out and back. He wanted to see my crawl. What he probably saw was a stroke I like to call “The Spaz.” My best stroke. I got down to the end of the first length and I was wiped. Out of breath and starting to get a stitch in my side. I guess I thought because walked everywhere in my neighborhood instead of drove, and walked up three flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator, I was in ok shape. I am, compared to the shape I was in a few years ago. But people, swimming is HARD WORK. Lest you forget.
I made it back down the second length and stopped to catch my breath. When I could speak again, I told my teacher that I probably needed gasp A LOT of work gasp on my gasp gasp endurance. Obviously. So I switched to backstroke for the rest of the class. There is more oxygen in the backstroke.
When I got home, my arms were shaking and I was very disappointed in myself and my performance. At first. But then I realized, L3 was helpful to work on my form, but it was not a challenge or a workout for me. This class will be. And yes, it’s hard to suck at something. But I would not improve unless I had that challenge. Right?
Gasp sputter gasp.
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