Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Greatest Fear

There was one thing that I had done recently that made me feel proud, and I had not felt like this for the longest time. I had learnt to swim.

Last year I gathered my courage, and did something I should had done years ago - I signed up for swimming lessons. I did this partly thanks to encouragements from Feeder, and mostly because I was tired of being afraid.

Being in water had been one of my greatest fear for the past 29 years (apart from lizards, anything cold-blooded, my boss' boss and ghosts). Whenever I was in a swimming pool (which is very rarely) of a mere 100 meters depth, my hands would never leave the edge for fear that I might fall and unable to balance on my feet. I never had a drowning experience and I wished I never would.

Back when I was in my college years, in the Batu Ferringgi beach my friends and I were sitting on a banana boat. I remembered I watched in panic as the speedboat driver playfully swirled the boat in a sharp turn causing the banana boat to capsize and all of us ended up in the sea. I wailed as loud as I could for my friends to come save me, all the while having the orange-coloured life jacket on.

My high school, King George V Secondary School in Seremban, was the only school in town that had a swimming pool. Back then I took the swimming lessons, I was taught to glide with the float. But when I reached the stage where I was supposed to let go of the float, I couldn't do it. I guess I just wasn't as determined as I am now.

So when I signed up for the swimming lessons, I was very doubtful. I mean, if I could learn to swim I already had 16 years ago. What pushed me forward, I guess, was that I didn't want to add this to my list of regrets in life. I was, after all, going to reach 30 really soon.

My first lesson was a tough one. It started out easy, thanks to my brief experience in high school. Blowing under water, gliding, kicking - those I could manage. But then there came the hard part. I was told to kick, glide, push my arms apart and bring my head above water to breathe. Now that I talked about it, it seemed so easy but back then, for a person like me, it was harder than jumping off a roof. But what could I do when my hair was wet and half of my body from waist down was submerged in the pool. So I did tried to do as I was told. 

As I pushed my arms apart, the insecurity of having no floating support took over and the only thought in my mind was, "I'm not going to make it". Hence water was splashed and people stared as I regained my balance to stand on my feet, half of my body from waist down submerged in the water. I wiped off the water dripping from my hair and saw faces trying really hard to refrain from laughing.

Later that night I cried myself to sleep with sad thoughts that I would never learn to swim. I might as well had thrown the 300 bucks to the ocean - at least I could hear a splash. But that didn't change the fact that I had already paid. So I left work early whenever I could to practice in the freezing cold water. It took me 2 weeks to be able to perform the 3 simple steps of frog style. The first time I managed to do it, I guess that was the proudest moment of my life.

Now I could swim laps of frog style. It didn't quite come naturally to me yet. I still must count in my head "kick, glide, push, up". And water threading was still something yet to be mastered. At least, if I were placed in the middle of the ocean without any floating device, I wouldn't immediately drown. In July this year I would be going to take a diving license. Hopefully that experience would strike out another item on my list of regrets.


David Batista said...

That's very impressive! You've accomplished a great feat, and it is never too old to learn to swim. My friend was 34 years old when she started taking lessons. Like you, she took each stage slowly and, over the years, has become a much better swimmer.

Good luck! You've already made amazing progress. Don't give up!

thE gEOgrAphicAlly blind said...

Thanks David! I'm glad I took the first step!