“No, NO, NO! You’re doing it wrong. Your form is terrible.”
I heard those words as soon as I hit the hotel pool and started gliding from one end to the other with the gentle motion of breaststroke. For the last 40 plus years, I’ve heard those harsh words in my head every time I slid into the water.
From the age of 6, I’d been in swimming lessons. I was never going to be in competition, but I loved earning the badges as I climbed the ranks from beginner to Bronze Cross. I was a moderately strong swimmer with decent diving skills. I kept pace, concentrated on improving my speed and nailing the underwater flip at the wall. The only thing I struggled with was breaststroke. My arms were fine, it was my legs that always went akimbo. I just couldn’t get my legs to sweep knees-calves-ankles-toes. And I was always criticized for it.
With every pull of breaststroke, I heard the voices of many instructors inside my head. Cajoling, shaking their heads, jumping into the water to push my legs the way they wanted them to go. I hated that part of class.
This week, the day after my 50th birthday, I got into the hotel pool and heard that criticism. This time I smiled, answered with a confident Fuck You and continued to pull myself through the water. It was bliss.
For the next 30 minutes, I alternated between front crawl and breaststroke. I didn’t count laps, I just kept going until I didn’t want to anymore. I had the whole pool to myself. I listened to the splash of the water against the walls. I paid close attention to my breathing. I wrote this blog post in my mind. And I didn’t once worry about which way my legs were turning.
It only took me 44 years to get over the criticism, but now that I’m over it, I’m into swimming again.
Care to share the one thing you can’t seem to shake?