Monday, September 3, 2012

Free Swimming Lesson

Whenever I have time and feel energetic, I would go downstairs and swim at the swimming pool in my building. However, I would always choose the time carefully to avoid having to swim in a crowded pool or with a lot of children (children swim sideways, so it's annoying to be in a pool that has children). For instance, I would never go down at 1:00 PM during weekends because at that time there are usually many families down there.

So a few days ago, I went down to the swimming pool at 10:30, a time at which most children would be at sleep. Indeed, there was no child at the pool that night . However, as soon as I got out of the change room, I heard a woman greeting me, and upon squinting my eyes— I had to because I was near-sighted—I realized that she was the pastor's wife!

As I greeted her, she told me that her mother was also there, at the hot tub which was at some distance from the doors of the change rooms. Anyway, we entered a casual conversation, and naturally we started to talk about the kinds of strokes that we were able to swim. I said that I could swim free-style, and that I kind of self-learned breaststroke by just imitating the animated GIF found on Wikipedia.

Hearing this, she told me that her mother was on the swim team when she was in high school, and that she might be able to teach me better breast stroke techniques. She then called for her mother, who quickly came to where we were standing. We introduced ourselves and talked a little bit more, then the mother of the pastor's wife told me to swim a lap for her to see.

It was a very frightening moment for me, because I have always been very self-conscious, especially when I had to do physical activities with observers present. Still, there was no way that I could avoid the situation, and I knew doing so would be for my best interest too. So I just tried my best to swim as I normally would.

After I swam to the other end of the swimming pool and back, I heard what I dreaded the most— that I was swimming improperly. Of course, the pastor's mother-in-law said it in a very nice way, but it still hurt to know that all the time I had been swimming with extremely bad technique. Anyway, she then showed and explained to me the correct procedure of swimming breaststroke— arms reach, legs kick, arms back, and repeat. She also emphasized to me the importance of the feet coming together at the end of of the kick.

Of course, I didn't do very well during the first few times when I tried to apply what I learned to my technique. However, the pastor's mother-in-law still commended me for doing things right (at least I wasn't moving my arms and legs at the same time). Then she told me to keep practicing and went off to the hot tub.

As I swam more and more, I started to feel the improvements myself. I no longer had to do everything deliberately, and breathing was becoming a lot smoother. And soon after I felt as if I was finally swimming the stroke properly! That night I went back to the changing room pretty late—  perhaps because I did save more energy with better technique.

Although I wouldn't want to meet the pastor's wife or her mother at the pool anymore— I would still feel awkward— I really am thankful to them for giving me a free swimming lesson. Also, this incident goes on to demonstrate the importance of being social— the benefits that one can gain from just interacting with others.