My childhood days were filled with many days like this
On to university days at a place called the United States Naval Academy. You’d imagine me swimming like a fish by the time I completed my degree, but that was not really the case. Yes, I passed every single swimming test there. They were not easy either. I jumped from a 10m platform into the deepest end of the diving pool every semester, I swam 1km in 40 minutes (it’s called “the 40 year swim”) while dressed in full uniform, I treaded water for few long minutes while converting my uniform to become a temporary float and many other swimming tests designed to make us as a capabled swimmer. And yet I found water to be a little intimidating at times.......and I did not welcome the opportunity to jump into water, I’d rather be doing something else......period.
The exact view if you look down from a 10m platform....a big no, no!
The breakthrough came when I was sent to work in France for 2 years. The apartment complex where I stayed had a 25m swimming pool right in front of it. For a good 3-4 months in the summer and early fall, the pool was available, with crystal clear water up to the brim, gesturing me to take a dip. I also met this wonderful neighbour Gill, who could swim back and forth the full length of the pool effortlessly for eternity, while I struggled amateurishly to complete even a full lap. Upon seeing my struggle, he offered a few tips to improve my technique. He helped me to improve my breathing, and he also showed me how to make the most out of every stroke. And as they say it in French......Voila! I got it. My swimming improved tremendously and I didn’t feel the struggle to gasp for air. It was far from perfect, or else I’d be competing in the Olympics.....hahahaha, but I felt a whole lot more comfortable in the water.
The wonderful swimming pool infront of my apartment
The swimming lessons by my neighbour Gill was the turning point
Since then, my anxiety with water has significantly reduced. I can now enjoy swimming as part of an exercise, as well as a form of relaxation and stress buster. It’s God’s gift to me as I have now found a low impact exercise that is kind to my post-PCL operation knee. However, I don’t get to swim as much as I’d like so far. I intend to change that next year. The fact that there is going to be a big pool near where I’m going to be staying should help my cause.
The icing on the cake in my progress to conquer my anxiety with water came through my experience doing Helicopter Underwater Escape Training with navy pilots and helicopter crew. I’ve done it three times so far and the latest one was just last week. Just like the course’s name, it’s about taking turn and tumble underwater while being strapped in the mock-up helicopter, and eventually trying to exit through a designated escape route. It was intimidating to say the least. And doing that at night as well? I did it, I didn’t really enjoy it, but I did it......It got easier the more you do it. And as I said, it helped further to ease my anxiety.
Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (me in white helmet) was all about dealing with your fear being trapped underwater
Dealing with water is never easy for me and I’m glad I’ve got this far by now. Chance of survival in water is significantly enhanced when we have the ability to swim comfortably and we do not panic easily. I would definitely like my children to comprehend both at much younger age. It’s never too late to learn but I sure hope my children don’t have to endure the anxiety as long as I did.
Water survival is "no play play" business
Water is not a natural surrounding for us human being, so we must learn how to be comfortable in it. Try we must, have faith and the rest we leave it to fate.
I even had the opportunity to enjoy water ski at Lake Zurich as I successfully dealt with my water anxiety