A Story About Swimming

Author: Karen Copeland

Image via Pixabay
Image via Pixabay

A story if I may:

Imagine you are learning to swim. You have been trying to learn to swim for a number of years but are still struggling. You start a new set of lessons, feeling hopeful that this might finally be the year you learn how to swim.

Image via Pixabay
Image via Pixabay


Your instructor begins with the front crawl. Try as you might, you just cannot coordinate the stroke and the breathing. You are told that you are failing (like you really need to be told this in the first place as you have no illusions of success as you cough and sputter on the water that sneaks its way into your lungs). You ask for help but you are told “sorry, we are on to the backstroke now”.

You do reasonably well with the backstroke and you can feel your confidence begin to rise.

But then comes the butterfly. And again, you are drowning. When you ask for help you are given a look and a sigh that conveys disappointment and disbelief. “How could you not know how to do this?”, the look says. “I’m an excellent instructor, it is not my fault you aren’t learning” is communicated by the sigh.

You take initiative and you hire someone to help you with the butterfly, and after practicing for a number of hours, you get it! You are doing the butterfly! You feel confident heading into the test. But when the time comes, you flail and flop and gasp for breath, nothing coordinates like it did. And you fail. You can’t figure out how you could do it before but not now.

You know the lessons are coming to a close and you are getting worried about the final tests where you will need to do two lengths each of the front crawl, the backstroke and the butterfly. You are terrified of drowning and you again reach out for help, but are told you can only review the stroke criteria for a minutely short period of time. The instructor shows no concern that you may drown. In fact it seems they don’t even care. And you begin to wonder why you would even bother trying.

But you won’t be defeated. You will figure out a way to get through yet again; you will risk drowning, learning to swim is that important to you.

Image via Pixabay
Image via Pixabay

And you will hope and pray for an instructor who cares and who wants to take the time to discover what you need to learn and how you learn best the next time you decide to take lessons.

One comment

  1. You make an excellent point. How does one summon the strength needed to sustain perseverance and build confidence? Community. Connection. Heartfelt dialogue. Nice piece, Karen.


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