My mom never learned how to swim, so she sacrificed to make sure that she could afford for me to take lessons. I remember heading to the black folks pool (this was in the 90s by the way) to take lessons from Coach Williams. Me and my cousin were getting good as we hit teenage years. I was getting the hang of things and then I remember that we were getting ready to learn how to pull all of our skills together to put the whole swimming while breathing concept into action. I remember Coach Williams telling us that we were getting close to the minimum age requirements to do life guard training.
But then “they” cemented in “our” pool.
The lessons stopped. I only got swim time when we went on summer vacation for a few days. So in my adulthood I have tried teaching myself what to do. In graduate school, our recreation center had an Olympic-style swim pool so I got practice jumping off the diving board again and playing around in the deep end. But I never got the hang of swimming and breathing at the same time.
So today I started my first private lesson at my local YMCA. My swim instructor is a black woman. Her presence eased my nervousness and reminded me that WE DO SWIM. Just like we run and we bike and we do lots of other things. It gets overwhelming at times when you’re so used to be the “only one” or “one of very few” in most spaces of your life, so to see people that look like you doing what you want to do helps. Oh and my instructor said that my technique wasn’t bad!! Ha! My lessons stopped like 20 years ago, but i held on to the fundamentals that we learned way back when.
I can’t wait to encourage other people in my friend and family circle to “step out into the deep end” (not literally y’all 👀) and learn something new or to try something you’ve always wanted to do. I’m thankful for my friends who have encouraged me through their own journey!
—Swimming soon Stassi