Memory Lane: Learning to Swim

The pool where I learned to swim was a small L-shaped pool attached to a high school, nothing special. Except that I spent so many hours there, working through the Red Cross swim competency certifications — yellow, orange, red, all the way up to white — that the pool is still lodged firmly in my brain.

Even today I can tell you the layout, where the lanes ran, the side of the L where we learned to hold our breath underwater and made our first shaky attempts at the flutter kick. Later we graduated to the other side of the L, the Deep End, to master treading water and the harder swim strokes.

My best friend was in many of those classes. We had an imagination to rival each other’s, and at any opportunity we would play mermaids. The Deep End held the evil sea queen, Ursula from The Little Mermaid. (We knew it wasn’t true, but on some level, we believed.)

One of my proudest accomplishments was scaling the climbing rope. I was a skinny kid, but I did it, knot by knot, all the way up to the high ceiling, where I rang the bell hard, then dropped into the waiting water.

Where did you learn to swim?



12 responses to “Memory Lane: Learning to Swim

  1. How long did it take to get to white? Congrats btw. Swimming with friends is probably one of the best ways to swim…the competitive edge with the recreational play at the end.

    I learned how to swim at a local community college. I have been taking about three classes and I am always learning new ways to improve my technique.

  2. Jane, it’s been a while, so I couldn’t tell you how long it took. Swimming with friends made it more fun for sure!

  3. I went to swimming lessons every summer at the town pool (actually a lake) for years, but never learned to swim since I was too busy fooling around blowing bubbles and messing around with my sister. I only learned to swim after I nearly drowned in the pond next to my house, My parents had given up on the idea of swim lessons by then, but the watery near death experience inspired me to learn a few years later in a friends pool. All it really took was common sense and attention to the basics, I’d heard, but hadn’t applied, all those years earlier.

  4. I learned to dog paddle in the creek that ran past my grandparents’ house. I took Red Cross swimming lessons in the Snake River in Idaho. I lived in a rural area and none of the small towns had swimming pools until I was in high school.

  5. Barbara, I’m glad it was only a near-death experience! Sounds terrifying. (But it’s a great story. 😉 )

    hmcmullin, learning to swim in a creek or a river sounds wonderful!

  6. Me and my cousins and siblings has swimming lessons in a cove called “the Mud Hold”, on Priest River in Idaho. No matter how hard I tried, the instructor wouldn’t graduate me to Life Savers level so I never really cared about swimming again. Before that I had lessons at the YWCA in Spokane. With all that swimming, I’m somehow not a very strong swimmer and have a phobia of deep water.

  7. Katya, sorry to hear you have so many negative associations with swimming! It took me a long time to pass the Red level because you had to do front crawl and I couldn’t get the breathing right. It’s still probably my least favourite stroke.

  8. Came across your post by accident. I run a weekly nostalgia Link up on my blog. I hope you won’t mind if I link you up to it? This week it happens to be about learning to swim! You can find it here

  9. Not at all, saveeverystep!

  10. I learned to swim at Flanders Outdoor Hotel pool in Ocean City, NJ in the summer. I took 18 swimming and diving lessons from Miss Joyce Trout. My 12th lesson would have ended with a bellyflop except Miss Trout made me do a couple more attempts that were somewhat more successful. When I moved to St. Louis, Missouri I belonged to Cool Dell.Pool. I did Water Ballet, Red Cross Jr.nd Sr. Lifesaving, and Advanced Diving etc. My favourite place to swim was iin the Atlantic Ocean at Ocean City. And I should leave those memories for another day-like when my head accidentally went underwater there at the age of 3.

  11. Thanks for sharing your memories, Janet! Good for Miss Trout for letting you try again.

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