Friday, February 13, 2009

When I was seven years old, I attended a pool party given by one of my friends at school. My mother alerted the parents of the child who was giving the party, that I could not swim, and I was to be monitored in the shallowest of shallow waters. These parents assured my mother that they were on the case, and nothing would happen to me, and I overheard all of this, so I felt some degree of comfort. There were two other kids wading in the shallow waters with me, and they looked just as terrified as I was, so I was defintely in my element. My mother saw this, and left the party feeling good about my safety.

About 30 minutes later, in walks this rowdy parent who thought the pool party was for him not the kids. He stripped down to his bathing suit, and immediately started "playfully" terrorizing the kids in the pool. He splashed some kids with water, he threw the volleyball at others, and then some kids he just flat out picked up and threw in the water. I think he threw about 4 kids around before he got to me, and each kid would playfully say, "No don't!!", and then he'd throw them around, and the kid would pop right back up and scream, "Throw me again!". So when this adult got to me, my screams of "No don't!" were not taken seriously, and to make things worse, the parents who had been assigned to look after my safety were asleep at the wheel. So the guy threw me in the pool, and I remember being in the water, sinking deeper, and noticing that the other kids seemed to be getting further and further away.

The next thing I remember is me coughing up water, and waking up with a bunch of people standing over me, and my mother being there near me. I don't remember passing out, or being brought back to consciousness or any of that. In fact that whole day is one big blur, but what I did glean from it, is that I never wanted ANY part of the water, because clearly I could not conquer it.

Over the next 27 years I kind of took lessons, but I never really felt comfortable with who was teaching me. From 1987-1993, I lived in a house with a pool in the backyard, but I only got in there with a life jacket on, and I'd never stay in for more than 20 minutes at a time. Even then, I was monitored by parents, and my time in the pool could best be described as low impact. The past two years, I've been to Miami, and gotten in both the pool and ocean, but as soon as the water gets too deep, or I lose control, I quickly get out of the pool. I did have this one instance back in August, when I got up at like 1am, and had a dip in the pool alone, but again, low impact was the name of the game.

Then a couple of months later Sabin, my roommate from college, mentioned that he had conquered his fear of swimming, and was doing it every morning as a form of staying in shape, and I must admit I was inspired. Plus, I have had back issues, and my doctor, as well as others, told me that swimming more often would definitely soothe my back. So I say all this to say, tomorrow morning at 10am, at the Jewish Community Center (just call me Sammy Davis), I will have a personalized lesson. I am nervous and excited all at the same time.

My goal is to learn how to swim, win 9 gold medals and master a bong.

Let's Go Forward - Terence Trent D'Arby


Jazzbrew said...

This is inspirational bruh. I took swimming lessons as a child and almost drowned during one of the sessions (the teacher pulled me out before I went down for good). So in essence... the very act that was supposed to cure my fear of water - deepened it.

I'd like to learn to swim but I have yet to become brave enough to take lessons. I look forward to reading more about it if you share.

Arlene said...


Congrats to you for getting back into the H2o! Swimming it does a body good!

Ha! I remember taking swimming lessons when I entered nursing school. Our intstructor was a big stocky Pilipino woman. On the first day of our lessons, she ordered all of us to go to the 12ft. end of the indoor pool, jump in and tread water.

I was in the second group, so I jumped in and started treading, only I felt my self sinking, sinking, sinking.......

I was holding my breath for dear life, and the more I tried treading, the deeper I sank. I got angry and thought, ain't no way my black ass is gonna die in a sea of chlorinated water,and just as I was thinking it, I felt arms swooping me around my waist and bring me up to the water surface.

It was my instructor. She looked at me, told me to breathe out, sit for 1 minute, and then she ordered me to jump back in and tread water.

I jumped back in and treaded the water. It took me half the semester to master staying afloat and learning to swim but I did it!

Black women usually don't take up swimmingor other forms of physical activity that calls for sweating, because of their hair. I do not begrduge women the right to wear the hair as they choose, but it's time to put our physical well being ahead of HAIR.

It does the body no good to have well-couiffed hair when it's unhealthy! HELLLO!

Rant over; pass the BONG! LOL!

Jamal said...

I am next in line.

maxwellsmusze said...


I think you and your roomate's story might be an encouragement to others. Not only is swimming fun and great exercise but it is a very important life skill to have.

Keep us posted.

Good Luck!

Chubbs said...

This is a wonderful--and dare I say very attainable goal--from one non-swimmer to another. I took two semesters of swimming in college, and the swimmers body is a definite draw. You'll be Phelpsian in no time!