Nothing but water

I did promise to come back here and give you an update on my swimming progress. Before that, let me sidetrack for a minute for a quick story.

Last weekend, Josh and I went swimming. After he encouraged me to try the water slide last time, we have done it multiple times because I was no longer scared.

This time, he encouraged me to jump off the spring board into the dive tank. I said, “Errr, I am scared.” He spread his palms, shrugged his shoulders and said, “But mommy, it’s nothing but water.”

This kid gives me the most interesting perspectives in life.

Anyway, back to my swimming progress.

When I started 5 weeks ago, I really had nowhere to go but up. Now I have completed the five half-hour lessons from the Vancouver Parks Board, and practiced on my own five times. I went from not being able to do front crawl at all, to doing half-assed front crawl for 25-35 metres. I can only breathe out of my right side, I still choke on water regularly, and I can’t swim more than 35 metres at a time. But hey, that’s progress, right?

Very slow progress. But progress nonetheless.

The next step for me is to continue practicing. I’m planning on two practices a week. I have also signed up for another round of lessons starting in March with Sea Hikers.

Swimming is probably the most unnatural and uncomfortable sport I have ever tried. Maybe it’s the mental block I have about water, and hating the feeling of water going up my nose. Maybe it’s all the self-fulfilling prophecy about I could never learn to swim. Whatever it is, it’s this gigantic task that seems so impossible.

My plan is to just slowly chip away at this task of learning to swim. I need to do this for myself, to see for myself what is possible when I put my mind to it.

Josh swimming

The dive tank is “nothing but water”, he said.


Water slide

Josh and I went swimming on the weekend. It’s partly to have some “mommy and Josh” time, and partly getting me more comfortable in the water.

We were merrily going along, trying different stroke in the pool, playing games in the water, and having a good time. Half way down the 50 metre lane, where the pool is the deepest, Josh notices a slide on the side of the pool. His eyes lit up.

“Mommy, I want to try the slide!”

“Sure, go ahead.”

The slide was maybe only 6 feet high, and the bottom of the slide was maybe a foot above the water. I knew Josh can handle it. He quickly climbed out of the pool, up the ladder, and came down like a cannon ball. Splash! He surfaced with a big smile on his face a few seconds later. (This whole time I’m clinging onto the edge of the pool for dear life.)

“Mommy, I want to do it again!”


This time, he wanted to come down without his goggles. Splash! He surfaced again with a smile. I was so proud of him. He is such a great swimmer, and so brave.

Then, he asked me the deadly question.

“Mommy, do you want to try the slide?”

Instantly, I thought about 100 reasons I could give him why I should not try the slide, ranging from my ass is too big for the narrow slide, to I’m too full from lunch. Oh, I know, how about I’d rather not die?

It took me maybe eternity to answer him with a whisper, “No, I’m too scared.”

You read that right. I’m 41 years old and too scared to come down a kids’ water slide. I am much happier to jump out of an airplane, or bungee jump off a bridge, ride a motorcycle solo across North America, or hike up Kilimanjaro. But no, no water slide into a swimming pool.

Let me just take a second to remind you the fact that I am struggling to learn to swim. Each time I have my lesson or go practice swimming, I drink so much pool water that I can taste the chlorine in my mouth all day. Choking on water half way down a lane and then panicking to grab the pool edge is my specialty. To willingly go down a steep slide, and throwing myself into the deep end of the pool is just asking for trouble.

With all the wisdom he has accumulated in his 7 years, 2 months, and 14 days of life, Josh said in the most gentle and non-judgmental voice, “Remember last time you were scared of that tree run at Whistler? You tried it, you had fun and liked it. Maybe you will like the slide too if you tried it.”


May this moment always serve to remind me that despite my irrational fears and parental failings, Josh is turning out pretty freaking awesome.

Sigh. “You’re right,” I said.

I climbed out of the pool, up the ladder, sat at the top of the slide, hoped I don’t drown in front of my kid. I cursed the “setting an example for your child” thing. I took a deep breath, pinched my nose hard, and slid down towards my death. Splash!

I recall lots and lots of bubbles, then I surfaced. OMG, I survived! Somehow I did not die. In fact, I had so much fun that I did it two more times.

Josh, one day when you’re old enough for swear words and scarcasm, I’ll let you read my blog. I want you to know that when I finally conquer my fear of water, you are a large part of that process, and I will always be grateful for that January Saturday afternoon when you encouraged me to try the slide.


Me and Josh at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre

Swimming 2

Guess which one of us the better swimmer?

Something I hope I never have to go through

Fridays are swimming days for us.  After Joshua’s morning nap, we always head over to Hillcrest for a 1/2 hour swim.

While we were enjoying the lazy river in the leisure pool today, the ear-piercing alarm went off.  All of a sudden, all the life guards started blowing their whistles, and yelling for everyone to get out of the pool.  Cliff said it was probably a fire bell.  I was all, fire bell at the pool?  Whatever.

This is not the first time that we’ve seen an emergency situation at Hillcrest.  Only a few weeks ago, a woman was injured and everyone had to evacuate for a good 1/2 hour while the woman waited for the paramedics.  So when the alarm went off, I was looking around to see if anyone was injured.  But everyone got out of the pool, and there was no life guard tending to anybody at the side of the pool.  All the patrons were looking around trying to figure out what was going on.

Someone turned on the PA system, and announced, “If your name is so-and-so and you’re 7 years old, please come forward.”

Before I could process what was happening, a life guard dove into the pool and started looking for something.  A few seconds later, he stood up and dove in another direction and kept looking.

The it dawned on me, oh my goodness, a little girl was missing!

My heart was sinking fast, and I felt so emotional.  I couldn’t imagine what her mother was going through!  My over-active imagination started going down the path of “what if Joshua was the one missing?”  Tears welled up in my eyes.

While the life guard kept diving in different directions in the pool and looking for the girl, it felt like time just froze.  It felt like forever that they were looking for the girl.  In reality, it was probably less than 2 minutes.

The PA came on again, and the announcer said, “thank you everyone, the pool is now open again.”  I looked around to see what prompted the announcement, then I saw a woman being escorted by a life guard towards the office.  The woman was holding the hand of a little girl roughly 7 years old.  They found the girl!

I felt an overwhelming sense of relieve for the woman.  I couldn’t imagine the few minutes of panic she must have felt when she couldn’t find her little girl.  The few minutes felt like eternity to me, it was probably much worse for her.

We returned to the pool and had an uneventful time after that.  For the rest of the day, I kept thinking about the incident and the panic I felt.  I hope this is something I would never have to go through with Joshua!


First swim!

I always thought babies have to be able to hold up their heads before going swimming, so I never tried taking Joshua to the pool. But a friend visiting with us said as long as I can hold up Joshua’s head, he will be fine. So I decided to give it a whirl.

We went to the new Vancouver Aquatic Centre pool, and boy was it fun! The pool itself is state of the art, the water is lukewarm and comfortable, and Joshua had a good time. He was very calm the entire time, and made happy noises a few times.

I think we’re going to be going to the pool a lot more often now. 🙂