‘I’ve been learning to swim for fifty years,’ an older Jamaican woman said to me in a swimming lesson about five years ago. Yesterday, an older Chinese woman, my classmate in a different swimming class, said, ‘I’ve been coming here for half a year (and I still can’t swim!).’
It hasn’t quite been fifty years, nor has it been a brief six months, but I’ve been learning to swim for a long time myself. And I still can’t swim. But I’m not as bad as when I started.
I’ve taken many breaks over the years, the most recent being when I became pregnant. Finally being able to squeeze it in my schedule again, I recently went back to my swimming lessons at the gym.
During the first class, I realised I just felt much more relaxed and focused than I’d ever felt in any swimming class ever. It’s as if the constraint of only being able to do this thing within this window of time allowed no distractions.
This is also the only time I get to move my body and I have nowhere to be except the other end of the pool, and nobody expects much from me. It’s really relax time. Of course the teachers want you to learn to swim, but they are all very laid back about it, like, ‘even it takes a lifetime, no big.’
That said, I ran into a classmate from my first spell at the gym, and learned that basically everyone who was in that class is now in the advanced class. Inspiration.