...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Joy the cat

There's a good reason why this picture looks crumpled. It is.

The year it was taken, thinking that it would stop the jokes about me being afraid of water, I thought I'd rip the picture in pieces. Photo paper, as it turns out, isn't that easy to tear, as you know if you've tried it yourself. Frustrated and on the brim of tears, I tried desperately to destroy that source of ridicule (with an audience trying to convince me otherwise), only to despair that the damn thing won't even crumple properly. The photo paper merely opened up again, defeating my efforts. I was too stupid to think of scissors. Thank goodness though, because it's a pretty funny memorabilia now.

That, however, sums up my uneasy relationship with water. I never was comfortable with water. As a kid, I insisted on shampooing my hair with my head facing up, and I absolutely disliked being washed on my face. I would wash as long as it involved scooping out water from a big pail, but I was wary of the shower for the longest time, thinking that it would somehow drown me.

Through the years, I tried to get over my fear of water which I think, at least nowadays, just pretty much boils down to my inability to swim, or rather, my incapacity to stay afloat in water. Where I can't see the bottom, I feel a light panic. I don't even trust life vests a 100%.

At 12, my mother enrolled me in a summer swim school. I passed the final exam, but it was only because I held my breath until I could see the tiles clearly beneath me and actually stood up to breathe some air before finishing the lap. I gave swimming another try at 19, with my college friend Val who was in the swimming varsity. With her encouragement, I dared to kick across the pool to the deep end using a kick board, although later she admitted that she was a bit afraid I would panic. A few years ago, I also did some water exercises with Marcus to make me comfortable with water. That was all well too, but since I still can't stay afloat long enough on my own machine, the deep end has always been my limit. It's a spatial limit, but I know that the limit exists simultaneously inside my own head. The deep end scares me like you wouldn't guess how, but I also know that the only way outside my mental- and physical- barriers is to – yes, swim there. That mental image makes me somewhat nervous and excited, but I've already made up my mind.

I have been thinking a lot about the swim school for adults organized by the local swim team – in fact I've been pondering over (and delaying it) for about two years. The topic came up again over lunch with colleagues last Wednesday, and when I rang the swim team that same afternoon, they told me they had one slot left for a class that started the next day. Did I want to take it? I was taken by surprise. But well, why not?

The first day of swim school last Thursday went surprisingly smooth. No group activities; we were just instructed to wade in the water and feel it out as the instructors came to us one by one to help us with our individual goals. I learned the basics of the breast stroke in a shallow pool, and I even dared to swim in the deeper pool in the last 5 minutes of the session. Sure enough, the mental trigger struck again when I got "too far" and I had to hold on to the instructor. But if I could swim over 4 meters on my first lesson, the rest of the 14 sessions seems promising. I've decided to go all out on this and bought dumbbells to develop my arms and legs (the latter with squats and lunges). I've even been watching how-to videos on YouTube to plant the breast stroke in my brain. I look forward to Thursdays. And I want to cross that limit by December. There's no excuse. Wish me luck!


Anonymous Lara said...

joy, the photo is hilarious! :-D good luck!

9:39 AM

Blogger iamvix said...

Joy!! you looked so funny. like a drowned, unhappy cat nga. i'm glad you didn't manage to tear and cut it. hahaha. anyway, good luck with the swimming lessons. :D parang may mission ka to conquer all types of sports one at a time ha :D

11:50 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

AHAHA! See? Can you guys understand why I wanted to tear that picture apart? They were laughing at it even then! :-D I'm glad I saved it too though.

Thanks Lara!

You bet, Cheryl! My colleagues are inviting me to go horseback riding AND boxing. ;-) I hope I don't get too poor trying all these sports out! (But I can get reimbursement from work for my swim lessons. How cool is that?)

9:43 PM

Blogger enilejna said...

I miss you Joy! And congrats for taking on your phobia (?) head-on. Dapat pala nag-biking classes ako sa Sweden hehe. Hanggang ngayon nga medyo me phobia din ako of falling on the ground and hitting myself/something, kaya kabado akong mag-bike o magdrive. Kung pwede na lang maglakad habambuhay! :)

Anyway when you get back to Manila we should have a swimming party at my house. Yehey!

3:04 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Jeline: Swim party? Yehey! We're looking at February, not December, for the date of our visit. It costs like half-price then, and from Linköping too! :-) Great, I won't ask how deep your pool is because hopefully, by Feb it wouldn't matter. O di ba? Cross your fingers!

6:40 PM


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