Adventures in Swimming

Let’s be clear about something:  HRH is not my daughter.  This is not either a good or bad thing really, it just happens to be a fact, that’s all.  But as such, I don’t instantly take immediate pleasure in her little accomplishments like her mother does (and rightly so).  For example, I don’t see the big whoop when she lets me sleep past 7:30am, finishes off everything on her dinner plate, or manages to blow her nose on her own; for her mom these are the equivalent of winning an Olympic Gold Medal.  To me, it’s just another mundane daily task that I take for granted.  Trying to even fake this sense of extreme excitement in these types of achievements would be like me trying to convince people that Captain Crunch was a real naval captain so, for the most part, I just nod and smile politely.

But that all changed a week ago today when I happened to be present for what I would deem as a real break-through moment on her part and I couldn’t help but feel a good dose of what other people must refer to as ‘parental pride’.

The whole situation came about when her mother went to attend a Night-Out with her girlfriends, leaving me to look after the kidlet for the afternoon and evening.  If I’ve learned anything in the past month of being a pseudo step-parent, it’s to occupy her time with something active and engaging otherwise she’ll drive you to slow insanity with questions.  The additional advantage to this plan is that it also happens to tire her out making for an early and uneventful bedtime later on, so it’s a total ‘win-win’  situation for me.  So it was with this strategy in mind that we left for the local YMCA to burn some energy in the pool and pass away a few hours while mommy got ready to hit the road and whoop it up for the evening.

When we got there, unfortunately, the ‘Family Swim’  portion of the pool had been closed due to some malfunction or other, leaving only the adult ‘Lane Swim’  available on the other side.  Fuck.  Not relishing either a thirty minute drive home or an entire evening of playing ‘20 Questions’ ad infinitum, ad nauseum, I decided, ‘screw it’,  we’re swimming anyway.  Hey, if the old Korean woman (the only other person in the pool) bobbing up-and-down in the deep end constituted itself as “lane swimming”, then surely we wouldn’t be hurting anybody practicing our front crawl in the slow lane, would we?  So I defiantly order HRH into the pool and to get stroking.

Now, I’m not going to kid you here…the first 10-15 minutes were all whining:  “But I don’t wanna swim”, “I wanna play ring toss now”, and “can’t we just bob like that old lady”?  But I was determined and my responses rang with all the gentle patience of a marine drill sergeant:  “No!  Swim, Godamnit!”   Now, I spend a lot of time in the pool myself training for an Ironman competition, which consists of a 4k open-water swim so I know a thing or two about swimming and stroke technique, so I used this time to try and work with her on improving her breathing, her forward stroke, and her ability to tread water efficiently…all under the scrutinizing eyes of the jaded lifeguard.  ‘Fuck her’, I thought.  ‘Who cares what she thinks’.  We’re going from here  to there  (the other end of the pool) and back and nowhere does it say “You have to be THIS old to lane swim”,  nor did the old Korean woman give a shit, so on we went for the next 90 minutes or so with me slowly swimming beside her egging her on and offering encouragement as she slogged through her drills – back and forth.  Besides, I’ve already invested a small fortune into this child regarding pink swim caps, pink swim goggles, special nose plugs, etc., and like hell I’m letting any of it go to waste.

But this is where the miraculous part comes in.  By the time ‘Lane Swim’ had ended, she had successfully completed 400m  of front crawl; the last few lengths of which she had started to get the hang of.  Likewise, she also discovered how to whip-kick efficiently and use gentle big circles with her arms to stay afloat while treading water instead of floundering like a drowning cat until her energy imploded like a dwarf star leaving her grasping for the poolside.  In the end she was able to comfortably stay afloat for THREE WHOLE MINUTES (as opposed to the 20 seconds while doing it her way)…and that’s pretty damn awesome for a seven-year-old in my book!  I know adults who can’t swim that far, or stay afloat for that long for that matter.  Once I explained this to feat to her, she absolutely beamed with pride…and there it was:  this strange warm feeling brewing in my gut…no, not indigestion or gas, but pride…real pride.  Way to go, kiddo!

I hope to bear witness to other accomplishments like this, not only in the pool but also throughout her life.  As I am also currently trying to convince her to compete in a Kids of Steel triathlon with me this summer  – which will inevitably spawn more blog posts in the future, believe me – I hope to have more of these ‘break through’ kind of days with her.

Almost makes me regret not having a child of my own…almost.

God help me.

Previous Post
Next Post
Leave a comment


  1. welcome balance

     /  April 22, 2012

    Awesome, Terry!

  2. welcome balance

     /  April 22, 2012

    Awesome, Terry!
    -sarah b.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: