“Fish Out of Water”
On Saturdays I go from the clueless business reporter, who thinks that an LBO is a flying object, to swim instructor.
In the swimming pool I command authority amongst these non-swimmers. From the eyes of a swim virgin I am an Olympian, and a swim goddess. This gives me a much-needed self esteem boost that fuels me through the weekend.
It takes courage to take the plunge, take it from Manny, take it from Constantine, take it from Anne. These adults want so badly just to swim a lap, but first they need to put their faces in the water. There are at least nine people in this class, all of them came from different backgrounds, and the vast range of ability and experience was as I told the swim supervisor a “rainbow.”
She laughed when I said that, another colorful ADHD throwaway line from the ADHD me. Imagine my shock when on the first day of class I discovered that this class was meant for people who had never put their faces in a pool before. I should have known when Anne looked at me as if I were an alien when I clapped my hands and said, “Ok, let’s all take the plunge now.” She looked like she was frozen to the deck.
How do you get someone who has never done something before to do it? To me the water is second nature, I jump in, I swim, it’s simple, I was three when I learned to swim, but to these swimming virgins the pool looks scary, everything is new. “How deep is the pool?” Constantine asked, he asks. “Is the floor the same depth all around?” someone else asked. If they are to learn to swim they need to accept that some people just take to the water as if they are fish, and others are late bloomers whose greatest accomplishment will be perhaps to make it to the other end. It’s just the way it is. Part of life is accepting that there are some things that other people simply have a knack for.
What the swim virgins don’t know is that outside of the water I share my fears with them. Organization, listening, lingering, maintaining relationships, multitasking are challenges for me. I struggle with these in the same way they struggle just to blow bubbles in the water.
I coax the swim virgins in the pool, splash each other, get them to do a conga line and pull the water. I line them up against the pool gutter as if they were little kids, told them to look down at the stupid non existent fish and then blow big bubbles as if they were blowing out birthday candles. What else are you going to tell them?
Anne looks at me and says, “I don’t know what to do I just sink.” How do you just tell someone, look at me, just let go of the wall and do it. All I could say was look down and blow bubbles, but there must be another way to get them to float. Constantine was the typical man, reacting like Manny did, every time I came by trying to help him (and he obviously couldn’t float), he said okay, okay, I’m fine he repeated as if he were I parrot, I get it as he coughed up the parts of the pool he had swallowed. How do you explain to someone that this is what they do, when it’s second nature to you. Somewhere in the middle of the class I told the students to just relax and have fun, because they looked like they were going to have nervous breakdowns. Calm down, calm down and everything will be just fine, but it was as if I were talking to myself.