That bit of necessary magicThursday, October 22, 2015
I've been thinking a lot about learning to swim lately. In part because I've started taking my seven month old son to swimming lessons (where we chase after purple boats and he practices his signature inchworm kick) and partly because when I swim on Saturdays, there's a boy who practices his dives and straight armed front crawl with a tenacity I haven't seen in such a young person. He swims for nearly a full hour, back and forth and back and forth. It's so inspiring.
I taught swimming for years. I know that you start with bobs, that they help you get used to the water and get used to breathing out in the water, then you move on to floats (front first, then back) then glides (aka rocketships) and then windmill arms and kicking legs and the cadence of breathing every few strokes. But there is something else. Something that isn't in swim instructor manuals. There's a bit of magic thrown in there, along with some blind faith. Floating requires believing that water will in fact hold you at its surface. And it will. It does.
I don't remember the first time I floated, but I've seen others experience it and the closest thing I can liken it to is the first time your mom or dad lets go of the back of your bike. Like that, but with less speed and more chlorination. It is the closest thing to faith as I'll ever know.