Weekend Question Thread

I took swimming lessons as a kid, in a pool owned by one of my Grandma’s neighbors. Their teenage daughter was trying to teach all the neighborhood kids how to dive and backstroke and whatnot, but I was hopeless. To this day, I think I could swim to save myself if I was thrown from a boat or something, but I don’t swim for fun. I’d rather sit on the beach and listen to the waves.

Can you swim?

A.

23 thoughts on “Weekend Question Thread

  1. Escariot says:

    I do, but not very well, and NOT distance. My breast stroke improved when I started wearing goggles (somehow it magically allowed me to get the whole ‘breathing’ thing right-an admittedly important piece) and my kicking SUCKS, which surprises as I am a long distance rower and runner…really like the water, and can and have spent literally hours body surfing in all kinds of crazy water.
    Oh, and I hate chlorine. Salt Water Rules.

  2. Collin says:

    Yup. Got involved in an adult swim club later in life. Wonderful exercise. The main barrier for most people, besides proper technique, is the puny shoulder and back muscles most of us have which are most necessary to swim effectively. It takes a while to build up some aerobic capacity in them. The other barrier of course is the need to drag your ass off the couch, drive to the local pool and expose your flab in public. (Which is the reason, I confess, I am a lapsed swimmer)

  3. mlhanson says:

    I can swim. My dad taught me how along time ago. I don’t go in the water unless I can see the bottom.

  4. racymind says:

    I thought I was the last kid ever to learn how to swim when I was 13 years old. My mom had made friends with some lady in the ‘hood who was making money however she could, and swimming lessons was one of those ways. So now I won’t drown right away if tossed in deep water, but I wouldn’t want to depend on my ability to swim in a turbulent lake or ocean. I am a weak-ass swimmer.

  5. robertearle says:

    I don’t have any trouble getting myself off the sofa – I run five miles a day (when I was younger, it was seven or eight a day). Also means I don’t have any problem ‘exposing my flab’.
    But my swimming experience matches A’s exactly: I can’t get the breathing down, and kicking is even worse. If the ocean liner goes down 50 yards from shore, I’m *probably* gonna be OK, but anything more than that…

  6. iceblue says:

    Forget the ocean liner going down, I’m not getting on it to begin with. I learned to swim at the YMCA in my hometown. I never enjoyed it and I only made it to the, I can swim level, not the I can dive and hold my breath and do flips at the end of the lap to go the other way, level. I used to own a boat and I’d be the only one that wore a life jacket. I prefer a pool to the ocean or a lake, but don’t actively seek out any of them.

  7. MichaelF says:

    Took swimming lessons as a kid at the YMCA in downtown Norfolk, VA…but it’s been a while since I’ve been in the water.

  8. peterboy says:

    Hi A,
    A congrat to the Eschaton man for reminding me of your site, and your impeccable writing has me bookmarking.
    i love to swim, especially now that i cant run for exercise. there is a pool on campus and i try to get there as many times a week as work allows.
    very much fun. outdoors and heated in socal.

  9. karen marie says:

    Was fortunate in that my mother took me to the Y for swimming lessons when I was in kindergarten and first grade. It was the early ’60s, and it wasn’t “kid stuff,” it was real swimming lessons. I learned all the strokes – crawl, butterfly, breast, back. I love to swim but have rarely had opportunity. I positively loathe heated pools, and it’s hard any more to find pools that aren’t. If you’re going to swim laps, rather than splash about, you want the water cool so you don’t get overheated. The best pool facility I ever swam in was in Federal Way, Washington State. It was built in the early ’90s for some international competition. It had a really deep pool for high diving, with three different height platforms, and a 10-foot deep 50-meter pool for doing laps. The water was really cold when you first got in, but after a couple trips up and back it was perfectly comfortable.
    Want!

  10. I’m hopeless, too. My swimming instructor promised that I would be diving before the lessons were over, but I was barely swimming. I doubt that I could save myself, because I would panic. When I swim, I do so near the side of the pool, in the event panic sets in, as it did once when I was in the deep end of a pool away from the side. I shouted. “Help!” several times, but the lifeguard and everyone else THOUGHT I WAS JOKING, until my husband finally realized I was not.

  11. k says:

    I can stay afloat, but that is much different from being able to swim.
    However, that does not keep me from jumping in to whatever water happens to present itself – a trait I have passed on to my daughter.

  12. pansypoo says:

    i am a better diver, but i need nose plugs. rather flail. sit on a inner tube.

  13. joel hanes says:

    At my current advanced state of decay, I’m more comfortable in the water than on land, although I no longer do laps.
    My extended family on both sides had little lakeside or riverbank summer cottages, and were fishermen and sailors and canoers, so we all learned to swim early and well. Beginning lessons from parents, starting around age three, followed by eight years at the Y, followed by lifesaving training and “drownproofing”. Three of the five of us were on swim teams and lifeguarded, two taught swimming and became lifeguard trainers, I taught sailing and small boat handling. One sister was the waterfront director at a summer camp for four years, and made it a practice to swim each summer the 2.5 miles from her waterfront to the city dock on the other side of the lake.
    In most cases, the trick to getting past the “hopeless” stage is to become comfortable with having most of one’s head submerged most of the time. Your head is heavy; if you try to hold it out of the water, you must perforce flail. With kids, you work on this by supporting them in a quiet backfloat where only the lower face is out of the water. For the breathing-rhythm part, one uses one’s legs to do standing bobs in chest-deep water, exhaling while submerged and inhaling at the peak. After years of starting every swim lesson with three minutes of bobbing, your body is trained and it all becomes unconscious.

  14. thebewilderness says:

    That whole buoyancy thing? I haz it. I was six when I graduated from hand walking in the shallows to paddling out to the float with the big kids. There are lots of lakes and shallow bays in the Puget Sound area that warm nicely in the summer. I remember enjoying swimming pools when I was a child, but as an adult I do not care for them.

  15. MapleStreet says:

    OK swimmer. During college worked as Water Safety Instructor / Swim Teacher / Lifeguard. Never been a fast swimmer, but some of the most fun I’ve had was on the SE coast where I was in open water swims. I was always near the bottom of the list, but I didn’t care as I was in it for the experience.
    Unfortunately, had a frozen shoulder a few years back and missed swimming for quite a while that even a few laps are beyond me. (Above, Collin puts it well. Plus motion still restricted in my right shoulder to prevent a good recovery in my stroke. Also like what Joel Hanes said. When I taught beginning swimming, the first thing I’d do is have the kids blow bubbles in the water to get used to their head being wet. Second, and also a starting point for even advanced classes, was to have them push off the pool wall and glide both with the body properly aligned and then with the head being held out of the water – both to teach proper body position and also show how important the body position is.

  16. joejoejoe says:

    We had a pool when I was a kid. My big brothers used to call me water rat. I can’t swim freestyle or anything but you can throw me a tennis ball in the water all day like I’m a retriever. I’d like to lap swim more. It’s good exercise that you do all your life.

  17. Henry Holland says:

    I love swimming, both for fun and for exercise. Luckily there’s a really nice LA County facility about 10 minutes from here and it’s cheap too.
    Ocean swimming, forget it. Too many pollutants and I still get weirded out going in after being stung by a jellyfish as a kid.

  18. Phalamir says:

    I couldn’t float at all – sank like a stone if I was still (I used to be able to go to the deep end of the pool, take a big gulp of air and then sink down and sit on the bottom of the pool like an aqua-yogi). Since everyone who tried to teach me to swim started with “learn to float”, I spent most of my childhood never learning. Finally, an old woman started with “learn to not drown”, and got me into a really pathetic dog paddle – once I wasn’t trying to sink anymore, I developed into a passable swimmer.

  19. I swim, when you grow up in Southern California you sorta learn how by osmosis.

  20. John Casey says:

    I’m a self-taught swimmer. I was always comfortable in water, and we had a park pool where you could swim for 90 minutes for a quarter (this was a _long_ time ago). Started underwater, and then learned some strokes. Now, of course, if I could do 20 yards, I’d be doing well.
    With our 3 daughters, my wife and I made it a project to have them swim as early as possible. Worked fine with the first 2, the 3rd, not so much. But even she can swim from the center of a large pool to the side, so reasonably drownproofed.

  21. Scoopernicus says:

    You grow up in Maine, you learn to swim. It’s more water then land there.

  22. FeralLiberal says:

    I’m a reasonably good swmimmer, which is a good thing as I don’t float. I had a load of pea gravel dumped along the little lake at the FFarm to create a good place to swim. It’s now known as “Pebble Beach”. Completely out of sight (very intentionally) of the road and cottage it’s a great place to strip down and dive in.

  23. Mattie says:

    Even though my parents spent my college fund on swim lessons, I still can’t swim. I suppose if it were a survival thing I could doggy paddle for a bit…
    Consequently, my daughter is in swim lessons now – here’s hoping that she got her daddy’s swimming ability!

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