I have had the pleasure of watching my girls swim on our local pool's swim team this summer. Every Wednesday night and Saturday morning for the past month, I have stood on the edge of a pool cheering them on as they swim backstroke or butterfly, freestyle or breast stroke. The oldest has been swimming on the team for nine years; the youngest is just finishing up her third year.
After this long, you would think I would know a little about swimming. You would be wrong. I still have a tendency to ask what team they are playing this week. I just recently found out that lane placement was key in determining who the good swimmers were. (My husband proclaimed that perhaps that was why our girls weren’t winning; they should be in the center lanes – those swimmers always win!) And I steadfastly refuse to volunteer for any position other than snack bar at any meet (Food, I know; strokes, not so much!)
Despite this lack of understanding, I truly love to watch the girls swim. Perhaps it is because I myself cannot swim. I honestly don’t think I could pass the swim test at our pool. (This test requires any child under the age of 12 to swim 1 ½ laps freestyle and then tread water for 90 seconds. Passing this test allows them free reign anywhere in the pool. )
When I tell people this, they laugh. Sadly, I am not kidding. I then relay the story of my near-death experience at the pool.
When my middle child was just a few months old, I was watching my then 5-year-old son go off the diving board. However, I soon realized (with the help of a lifeguard) that if he didn’t have his tag (which of course he didn’t – he takes after me), I needed to be in the pool when he jumped off the board. I blame my next decision on postpartum exhaustion. I decided that I would simply slide into the pool with my 3-month-old baby on my hip and hang on to the side while he jumped.
As I was sinking to the bottom of the pool, I realized why, for a number of reasons, this wasn’t a good idea. One: this newborn was heavy, like an anchor. Two: if I was hanging on the side of the pool, water up to my shoulders, then said heavy baby propped on my hip would be completely submerged. Not a good idea all around.
They say your life flashes in front of you during these near-death experiences. What flashed in front of me was the headline in our local newspaper: “Mom dies in local pool surrounded by young children because she was too stupid and too heavy for teen lifeguard to save.”
Luckily, a kind neighbor saw me floundering and asked if I needed some help. (“What makes you think that? The fact that my baby is choking or that my sunglasses are floating toward the deep end of the pool?”)
After heaving, I mean handing, my sweet child into the arms of my rescuer, I then, after numerous attempts, dragged my body up and over the edge of the pool. Being the good mother that I am, my first reaction was to check and see if anyone had seen this debacle. Then, I checked my daughter.
Of the two of us, she fared better than I did. In fact, to this day, I firmly believe this is why she is such a strong swimmer. She realized early on that her mother was no help near water.
So I’ve left the swimming lessons up to the experts and I watch the girls swim, standing proudly on the pool deck. Everyone is happy – and safe!