When My Mother Taught Me How to Swim

Experts say that all babies are born with a love of water because it is all that surrounded us for our 9 months of development in our mother’s womb. That is why water births are recommended so as not to traumatize the baby. Babies thrown into the swimming pool after only being weeks old are like fish taking to the sea. Yet, at a certain age, from being fishes, we turn into dogs with a severe case of hydrophobia. Nothing and I mean nothing can make a child go near water.

As a fetus a body of life enriching water in our mother’s womb surrounds us.

Inside her placenta, we are safely embedded and without a care in the world. We love the water that surrounds us, there is something about it that makes us feel warm, secure, and loved. All that changes as we mature in the real world. The familiar warmth and security of water has now turned into a fear of something unknown and foreboding as we grow into adulthood.

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A sub conscious trauma from the birthing process perhaps? Nobody can really explain it. I remember that my fear of the water as a child stemmed from a swimming pool mishap when I was 6 years old.

My parents had never seen a reason to drown proof me as a baby because we did not own a swimming pool and lived nowhere near a body of water where I might end up gasping for air and thrashing for dear life.

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They almost regretted that decision one summer when we went to visit my aunt who had a swimming pool in her backyard. I wasn’t really allowed to go into the swimming pool by myself because the pool was quite deep and I was simply a wee little tot who would immediately sink to the bottom in the event I fell in.

The most I was allowed to do was sit on the steps of the pool playing with my inflatable water toys while my cousins were busy doing water cannons and belly flops. They often ribbed me about being the only kid in the family who could not even doggie paddle but I did not mind them because I wasn’t really into any of their water stunts. But of course, Murphy’s Law dictates that if something is bound to go wrong, it WILL go wrong. I remember sitting on the first step of the swimming pool dunking my water gun into the water and then firing at my cousins who were trying to splash me with water.

My body temperature wasn’t evenly distributed because my chest and head were not in the water. Only my legs were submerged up to my stomach. I got tired of playing with the water gun and started playing with my battery operated motorized tugboat. I would let it float away from me a bit and then reach out and grab it, pulling it back. But the waves the other kids were making in the water were large and strong, the boat would often get too far away from me and I would have to step down from where I was to get it back.

Everybody was busy with the summer backyard barbecue and my cousins were really into a water game that they had made up for play so nobody was really watching me and I did not notice that I was standing on the danger zone step of the pool. The minute I lunged for the boat, I knew I was in trouble. The step disappeared from under me I found myself completely submerged and without any idea of how to stop myself from sinking. The next thing I knew, my dad was holding me by the shoulders and picking me out of the water.

I was gasping for air by that time and was crying so hard because in my child mind, I was more afraid of being blamed for breaking the rules and making my parents mad. It never occurred to me that I could have died at that very moment. I turned black and was so cold and traumatized that I went rigid and refused to take any more baths from that moment on. Not even in a bathtub in the safe supervision of my parents. That was the last time I ever spent any time in any body of water till I reached the age when I could join the cub scouts.

My mother knew I would be in trouble when the time came for me to undergo the swimming lessons with the other scouts. I had never overcome my fear of drowning and I would have a problem when a camping trip called for me to swim with the troop. Sure the scouts would teach me how to swim. But first they would have to get me to go into the water. So, two weeks before the scheduled camping trip, my mother brought me to the local YMCA hoping to end my nerve wracking fear of drowning. She held me close and tight as she encouragingly coaxed me down the steps and into the water.

I wasn’t a tall kid for my age so we stopped at the 2nd to the final step where the water was just touching my chin. She spoke lovingly to me and reassured me that she would not let me go and I nothing would happen to me because she would not let it as she slowly guided my head under the water. She seemed to exude a different kind of trust in the water. She seemed to be the master of the waves it created and was an energy that I was imbibing at that very moment. Everyday, we did the same exercise until, after a week, I was finally confident enough to try the doggie paddle that she taught m to do.

I learned to love the water and trust in it. The scouts may have taught me how to drown proof myself, but it was my mother’s love that gave me the confidence to let go of the fear and believe in myself. Nowadays, I swim in Olympic sized pools sometimes twelve feet deep. Each time I get into the water, I remember how my mother loved me enough to insist upon me learning to master my fears and not let it stop me from achieving my dreams and goals. All from those simple swimming lessons that she gave me.

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When My Mother Taught Me How to Swim. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/mother-taught-swim-1290-new-essay

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