Swim Training: An Adventure Story

24 Jul

His head came up from underwater, sheets of it pouring from his face and air rushing into his lungs.

The slightly unsure look in his eyes told you he still wasn’t comfortable with the task at hand. But at this point in time that didn’t matter, he was part of a team and that team’s leader was counting on him. Counting on him and watching intently from nearby.

The long time rookie’s past flashed before his eyes as he recalled the early years of being his leader’s lone sidekick, to the more recent years filled with mentoring the next one. He was a rookie no longer and now being counted upon to set an example for the kid who was. A kid who would soon be nipping at his heels, fighting for the number 2 spot.

Presently, training was entering its third week, and if day 1 was any indication, probably the last.

Standing on shaking legs, on top of a platform in the middle of a massive training pool, the first day of this challenge found him scared and nearly beaten by the mission before him. Why was it that nobody could tell him for certain what exactly was going on in the waters beneath him? Did it end? Does anything live down there? Why do we want to go under it again?

Wracked with fear, he signaled for a break.

He took comfort on the sidelines as he watched other trainees at the center practice the challenges set before them. Many passed with ease and went on to mastering repetition, while others battled through various levels of struggle and produced various ways of coping with those struggles.

But as a whole, everyone was still in the game. Everyone except for him.

He sprung from his place on the deck and got back into the water with renewed determination.

The initial shock was over and he was up for the challenge. Standing steady, back on the platform and scene of his earlier distress, he mastered the first task with ease – underwater survival. Head down and eyes closed, mouth shut and nose plugged, he was operating underwater and not intimidated at all.

Floating exercises and short diving drills were mixed into the equation over the coming weeks, and each one he took on with energy and excitement. He even realized at one point that he was actually having fun. The memory of his mentor telling him that he eventually would have fun suddenly crossed his mind, but he erased that thought just as quick. That’s one secret he would keep to himself as his older partner surely didn’t need the ego boost.

Towards the end of week 2 and beginning of week 3 the biggest challenge arrived.

Dive off the platform, head down and arms forward, driving with all of your strength towards the far wall. No support from the trainer, no trust coming from what you can see with your eyes, just blind faith in yourself and your training to guide your hands to the wall as fears of being sucked into a bottomless abyss, never again to see the light of day, challenged that faith.

He closed his eyes and dove. His hands touched the wall.

His head came up from underwater, sheets of it pouring from his face and air rushing into his lungs.

The slightly unsure look he had in his eyes was actually from excitement. Excitement one gets from pushing yourself outside your comfort zone and into one of fear. One of fear, excitement and most importantly pride. Maybe he doesn’t realize it yet, but some part of him was learning that when you stick something out, put in the work and come away with success, the result is pride.

Pride that will build his confidence in completing this training, contributing to the team that depends upon him, and everything beyond.

The veteran of many adventures patted him on the shoulder as he exited the pool and put his arm around him.

“You’re doing great at swim lessons buddy. Watching you makes me so happy and proud. Now someday you can teach your little brother how to swim. Did you have fun today?”

“Yes Daddy. Can we get a pool?”

Brad the Dad’ can be reached at Follow him on Facebook or Twitter at keyword: readbradthedad

This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 7/21/12.


6 responses to “Swim Training: An Adventure Story

  1. EduDad

    July 25, 2012 at 12:09 AM

    The smile on his face defines pride. Way to go!

    • Brad the Dad

      July 30, 2012 at 7:39 AM

      Thanks! See the name on the certificate in that picture?

  2. DadKnowsBetter

    July 25, 2012 at 3:59 AM

    He’s getting a true life skill. My son (9 yo) went to an end of season sports team party last month, and exactly 1 of his teammates could not swim. That boy was anxious (as was his father) and felt left out most of the afternoon.

    Fun post to read–thanks.

    • Brad the Dad

      July 30, 2012 at 7:41 AM

      Thanks for reading. It truly is one of the most important skills a kid can learn, in my opinion. Not only for the confidence building, but for safety as well. Was at a pool party this weekend and playing “hot potato” with 1yo while 4yo nearly and afterthought once his vest was one. So cool to see how far he has come.

  3. twistedxtian

    July 25, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    That’s awesome!

    I taught swimming lessons throughout high school and loved watching children experience exactly what your son went through.

    • Brad the Dad

      July 30, 2012 at 7:43 AM

      That’s some good paying it forward right there. Well done and thanks for reading. But I didn’t know bodies of water ever unfroze up there enough to make swimming relevant. 😉


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