LGN 125: Swimming 2

Inside: Level up; Waterproof-ish; Water-shy

Remember in my last post about swimming I was saying how if it wasn’t challenging enough I’d try to find a way to make it more challenging. Like maybe I could try to tread water the whole time? Well, that was a ridiculous thing to say.

Swimming is exhausting. For a beginner, anyway. If you can’t breathe naturally and if your movement is inefficient you just tire yourself out the whole time.

Where Swimming I was about the basics of being in the water, floating, basic kicking, basic arm movement, rotating in the water, and the basics of breathing, Swimming II is more about building up the movements. Trying to get them drilled into our muscle memory. Hm. I didn’t practice at all this week. Lame.

Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to hop into the deep end this week.

At the beginning of the first class, the instructor had us do a few things to see where we were. Freestyle and then backstroke or the back crawl(?). I’ve never attempted proper backstroke before so that was interesting. I was pretty much underwater by the time I reached the instructor.

To my credit, I’m getting pretty good at getting water up my nose. Where’s my certificate for that?

Seriously, the water rushes in and it’s no biggy. When I first started that would have been game over. I also recently discovered that doing the duck lips and covering the nostrils works. That makes it much easier to do roll from a front float to a back float because if you get that one wrong you end up on your back underwater, right.

Swimming 2 is getting into actual technique. So far it’s about freestyle. It’s a lot to think about at once. Arms. Legs. Breathing. As soon as I focus on one thing something else suffers. There’s a lot going on.

We haven’t gotten much into treading water but that’s on the agenda. I really want to get a sense of being in the pool when I can’t just stand up all the time.

I already signed up for Swimming 3, which will meet twice a week. Ambitious. I assume things will start clicking any minute now. It’s not until May so that’s plenty of time to spend in the water. Gotta get that muscle memory going.

Also in swimming news, I’ve seen a lot less dongs than I expected. I guess that’s more locker room news than swimming news.

Water shy

The GoPro Hero 5 is waterproof-ish. The mic/sound doesn’t work anymore and that’s a shame because that means I can’t use voice control anymore. Not without the GoPro Remo, anyway. More gadgets.

I told my grandmother that I was taking swimming lessons and she said, “You’ll be swimming by Summer.”

Holy crap. I had a mental flash of all the things I want to do. One of my goals is to swim in the Caribbean, hopefully this year.

It opens up a whole new world. On family vacations I can go into the water with the nephews or do those lazy river things. I’ve always wanted to go the edge of an infinity pool. I’ve been wanting to take underwater and split view photos. My trip to the Dominican Republic would have been completely different.

Not that I couldn’t do any of that before. That’s not even a matter of ability or knowing how to swim. It’s just the whole being a pool/water kind of person, if that makes sense. I didn’t own a pair of swimming trunks in my adult years until I started these classes. Plus the idea of having to shower, do the locker room thing, dry off, change, get all ashy by the time I reach post-swim Starbucks. And I don’t even have to worry about my hair getting messed up.

Confession: I believe that learning to swim is much more important than your hair, right. Then when I started the lessons, my Winter beard went all crazy. Beards require a lot of maintenance and part of that is keeping the hair healthy and soft with the natural and product oils. It’s a project, although less involved and less of a monetary investment than an actual full head of hair and hair style. That pool water strips the oils out and that cultivated beard turns post-apocalyptic. All rough and what not. All I had to do was shave. They should make some kind of beard mask. Like the lower half of a Hannibal Lecter mask maybe. The instructors would definitely frown one of those cute, full-face snorkeling masks. I want one.


Thinking back, it’s tragic how many social opportunities — cute girls and pools and parties and such — I missed because I wasn’t a pool guy. I’d excuse myself and leave or awkwardly hang out on the pool deck, which is no fun, so I’d leave. What a waste.

I’ve always been kind of shy but I was also water shy. I think you non-swimmers out there will relate to that. It’s a combination of body image and the idea of water-based recreation being a foreign concept. In other words, a complete lack of confidence to the point of discomfort. Lame.


Before I go, I hear these questions a lot so I’ll address them:

You never learned to swim as a kid? Did you take lessons?

I used to play in the pool at the Dundalk Y when I was a kid. My big sister, cousin, and I would go. I don’t remember ever taking lessons but a few people tried to show me. I have memories of an uncle giving me pointers in a pool on a vacation somewhere. Oh wait. I have vague memories of kickboards so I must have had a few classes.

I kind of came close to drowning once. We were sitting on the edge of the deep end and I wanted to be in the water so I lowered myself in and let go of the edge. I instantly started splashing around trying to reach the edge. My cousin reached over and pulled me over to the edge.  So, not really close to drowning but if I had been alone I would have been trouble. It didn’t make me afraid of water but I remember it clearly.

I’ve read articles and watched videos about drowning, by the way. Drowning doesn’t look like drowning. Read that. I can’t find an answer to my burning question: What does drowning feel like? Does it hurt?

A few years ago, during my CA years a friend and his brother taught me a few things and I could swim from one end of the pool to the other. I just couldn’t stop. I mean, I could stop but once I did I couldn’t get going again and I didn’t know how to tread water so … that was a pickle.

Why don’t you just float? You can’t float?

No. Well, now I can. Before starting the classes, not at all. To anyone who’s learning, my advice to you would be to learn to trust your buoyancy. It’s physics. I have to focus on it still, especially since my lower half isn’t very buoyant, but even I float.

Even though floating is natural, you still have to learn how to do it. It’s not the kind of thing that would come naturally if you don’t know how to swim and end up in deep water. You’d drown even though you’ve got twin PFDs in your chest. Ironic.

If I have kids they’re going to know how to swim before they can read.

So, yeh. Still at it. My current challenges are breathing naturally while swimming and needing people to practice with. Self-motivation is not my forte these days. I’ll make do.

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