What I Learned From Learning Swimming

I started swimming in a country-side style in the river in my rural hometown in China at a very early age. We called it dog style may be because we keep our head above water all the time without wearing swimming glasses. I couldn’t remember how I learnt it. At that time, there is no coach and no standard positioning and we were just enjoying the wild moment we were in without our parents permission.

2 Aug, 2012. My father standing by the river where I once swam in.

After moved and started working in the city, I found out people go to swimming in the swimming pool and the water is so clean that I could wear swimming glasses to see what is under water! Not just half naked human shapes but also how people are swimming so that I could learn from them.

I also found out that dog style is kind of out of fashion here. Most of people are learning and swimming in some seemed-to-be more advanced styles such as frog style and free style in which they keep their head in the water to swim faster and head up periodically to breath.

No excuse. I realised that to enjoy my swimming in the swimming pool with other peers and without being laughed at I need to learn these style, too.

I started with learning how to put my head down in the water in my old dog style and head up periodically to breath to mimic the frog style. The advantage of me is I know how to swim in the water in my dog style so I could practice anywhere in the swimming pool. The disadvantage is I was totally new to the frog style and I learned by myself and by watching how other people were swimming. I made a lot of noise by tapping the water and trying not to be drown like a dog. You could imagine there was a huge amount of peer pressure in the pool and the progress was watched closely.

Finally, I managed to know how to change breath in a frog style and the only lesson learned is

The most hardest thing in learning swimming is to learn how to change breath.

Because after that things changed and became much better and easier. There were less peer pressure since I was swimming in the frog style, too and I got other beginners who were learning how to change breath or just try not to sink in the water to watch. I’m out of the totally beginner’s club. Cheers!

But there were actually still some moments that I was swimming like a dog and losing the pace of my breath and trying whatever I could do in order not to sink. It’s because although I could swim frog style, I couldn’t swim from one end of the swimming pool till the other end. In the middle somewhere, I used out my strength and lost my steady pace of breath. If there happened to be no space for my to dock in the boarder of the poll which was very common since there were a lot of totally beginners resting there, I was on my luck.

So I realised that after learning how to change breath in a frog style,

The second hardest thing in learning swimming is to build strength.

So that I could swim from one end of the pool to the other end without losing breath and hopefully could swim several round in the pool without rest as what I’m able to do now.

Once I gained enough strength to swim from one end to another end of the pool, things changed again and became even better and easier than before. I feel I could control the process and do whatever I want as long as I have a little rest if needed at one end of the pool.

Well, the surprising thing to me after this achievement was I felt swimming became kind of boring now. It’s just swim in the pool and with a controlled pace, it’s not challenging at all to swim from one side to another. Swimming in the same way for half a hour or one hour is boring. I guess I met a bottle neck.

The third hardest thing in learning swimming is to continuously find new challenge and area to improve so that it keeps to be fun rather than just routinely boring.

So I started learning freestyle swimming and other style I “invented”. It requires more strength or new skills to master. I couldn’t swim from one side to another side again using freestyle and that set a new milestone for me.

Till now, I still cannot swim freestyle easily from one side to another. You know why? Because once I started freestyle swimming, I didn’t keep practicing it. Partially because my wife and kid came back together with me now so that I didn’t have as much time as before. Partially because I just discontinue doing it after months.

My strength for swimming seems still there. I can still swim from one side to another using frog style without difficulty. Freestyle swiming is still a bit challenging to me. After all this and now I found,

The fourth hardest thing in learning swimming is to keep doing it and make it a habit.

I failed to do that after I learned frog style and free style, built strength for the former but not enough for the latter.

I think it’s time to resume this habit again. This time, start with freestyle and build strength for it.

After all, it’s all not that hard.

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