By Mo Breden
One year ago today, I joined the Master Swim Program at my local YMCA. I had been swimming in my community pool for six months prior and had joined the YMCA one-month prior to that. I had been swimming on my own in their pool. I could swim for about thirty minutes without stopping, but at the Y, I noticed that I wasn’t swimming very well. The Y swimmers, for the most part, swam with their face in the water, with beautiful strokes, kicks and turns, and I was basically flailing about with my head always above the water. No one called me out, no lifeguards shook their head or laughed at me, but I knew I wanted to do better. I saw a sign posted on the Aquatics Board before one of my swims, for the Master Swim Program, it said, anyone over the age of 18, “Well,” I thought, “that qualifies me.” Go ahead you can giggle, I know I am.
I arrived at the pool at the designated time and sat on the bleachers and waited. I was pretty mortified as the Master Swimmers arrived at the pool. These were very fit, very strong looking people and much younger than myself. There I sat in my “fashion” bathing suit, wrapped up in my towel. I didn’t feel particularly welcomed to the “club”, but everyone was cordial. The Master Swim Coach arrived, unbeknownst to me, it was his first day back to the pool following a serious bike accident that nearly took his life. Lucky him, there I was, I am sure he was just thrilled to see me. I’m giggling again. He started the practice and told the Master Swimmers to begin their warm up. He asked me to swim fifty yards. I did that fairly easily, but on the return 25 I noticed a puzzled look on the coach’s face. As I reached the wall, he said, “Mo, you’ve got to put your face in the water”, I said, “I don’t know how”. And thus, began my relationship with my Master Swim Coach. After that first practice he said two things. (1) “You’ve got great buoyancy.” This is actually pretty funny, but you would have to have seen me then to get the joke. (2) “You’ve got great endurance.” Now, that made me feel good. Whether he intended to encourage me to come back or not I did, keep coming back. The coach also asked me during those first few weeks, what my goals were. The only goal I had was to swim with my face in the water, breathe bilaterally, and learn a few basic strokes, nothing intimidating like the butterfly. I thought I could accomplish this all in about a month’s time, I didn’t tell him that, but that’s exactly what I was thinking.
So here I am, one year later. Many Master Swimmers have come and gone. Every Monday through Friday night almost without exception I am on the pool deck by 7:30 and swim for at least an hour, usually an hour and a half. I also swim three mornings a week on my own for an hour or more. I can swim any stroke, some better than others, but I do them all, even the butterfly. I swam in two open water competitions this year and swim in open water whenever I get the opportunity. I am not the fastest or the best swimmer, but I am not the worst or the slowest. I strive every time I get in the water, to do better. I’ve lost about fifty pounds in this year. My body is so different than it ever has been. I can feel the muscles and the subtle changes they create. I have made friends of my lane mates, who make the hardest practice fun. They push me and encourage me and we laugh and have the best of times together, in and out of the water.
My motivation is still the same, just to be a better swimmer. I have found something I love to do, that is also good for me. This is a first in my lifetime.
So what’s my point? I can hear you saying, “Well good for her, but I don’t, I can’t, I’m different than her”. Yes, you are, but I know there is something out there for you, something that you will love to do, that is also good for you. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome, think about it. You have to do something different than what you are currently doing. I could not have imagined that I would be where I am one year ago today. I have achieved above and beyond any expectations I had for my swimming.
Here is my bottom line. I did something different, I got off the couch, and went to a class. I have never been alone in this process, there has always been, my coach and my lane mates. By myself, I would not have had this level of success. And, last but not least, my favorite nine words. If I can do it, you can do it!
Thanks for stopping by to read my post; I hope to see yas’ next week, for Life with Mo.