At 8:00 AM this morning, I cowered in the shallow end of Memorial Park’s public pool. I felt ridiculous.
Ridiculous in my HELLO-WORLD orange two-piece, so very unsuited for lap swimming.
I had tried to find a real swimsuit, you know. For 30 minutes yesterday I squeezed and teased and finessed myself into sausage casings, only to behold spare bits of me oozing out in all kinds of undesirable ways — in a suit 3 sizes bigger than my street size. So fun. And after all that trauma, I never did find a suit long enough in the torso, which means I have to order online. Thus, I crouch in the shallow end of the pool, water up to my neck to hide my shame, watching enviously as women clad oh-so-appropriately in Speedos dive in and start crawling.
Ridiculous because — inexplicably — I ripped the foam suction stuff on my brand-new-out-of-the-box goggles on the way to the pool for my first lap session. This means I’ll have to swim one-eyed.
Ridiculous because I’m sure I can’t swim, and whodoIthinkIam showing up like this and pretending I’m going to do something hard like swimming. I mean, I won’t drown; I’ll flounder across the pool, I’m sure. (There was the 1 year stint on swim team at 8 years old.) But I’ll be a laughing stock.
My pride does not appreciate Laughing Stock Status.
At last, my friend/savior/volunteer-swim-coach arrives. I explain to her what I’ve been doing for the last 15 minutes. She takes pity on me, bless her, and starts me off holding onto the wall and practicing breathing. Okay, this is too remedial, so she tells me to try swimming a lap while she watches. My pride has something to say about this.
OH MY GOD!! THE HORROR!! MY WORST NIGHTMARE!! ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME??
But I set my jaw, grit my teeth, and push off. Right, left, right left. Wait, how straight are my arms supposed to be? I know my hand is supposed to be angled, but am I doing it right?? Am I splashing too much with my feet? I get to the other side and slowly, oh so slowly, lift my head out of the water and look at her.
She laughs. “Alison! There’s nothing wrong with your swimming! Your entry’s good, your arm position’s good. You have NOTHING to worry about. You’re a great swimmer.”
The next 40 minutes passed comfortably enough, in between the panting sessions every 50 yards. Swimming is, indeed, hard, very hard, but at least I have the basic skills I need to develop my endurance. Small victory #1.
It is simply amazing how afraid I am of doing something badly — so afraid that sometimes I won’t try it at all, or at least not without big fear and trembling sessions. Perfectionism at its finest. Don’t you want some?
Lesson learned, I’m heading back tomorrow, solo, with my HELLO-WORLD orange bikini. Gulp.