Daily Archives: June 4, 2019

Learning to swim

I have said for decades that I am God’s most un-athletic creation.

Witness: somersaults were difficult for me.  Coach Lang told my mother (I was in 8th grade) that I had the body of a 40-year-old, even though I was 14.  Last one picked?  Always me or two other guys in my gym class.

Years of therapy have helped me overcome the emotional trauma.


And then last week, traveling with Kevin, I got to reminiscing about learning how to swim.

We lived in Hannibal.  The YMCA was across the street from Fifth Street Baptist Church where we attended.  I have a dank recollection of an even danker basement pool, and swimming lessons.  Unsuccessful swimming lessons.

We moved to Lee’s Summit in 1971.  Either that summer or the next, I was yet again enrolled in swimming lessons.  Beginning lessons, mind you.  Lee’s Summit Municipal Pool, corner of 291 and 3rd Street.  The lessons were unsuccessful.

I splashed in the pool well enough.  And I dog-paddled brilliantly.  And the diving board was not a problem if I could hold my nose when hitting the water.

The problem: I hated getting water in my nose.  And I still do.  Just this weekend I sniffled while showering, got some water in my nose, and went to a paroxysm of hacking coughs.  So, the freestyle stroke was a problem.  Put my face in the water?  Not on your life.

The next summer dawned, and Mom again had me in lessons. This time at White Ridge pool, a private pool in the White Ridge subdivision on the other side of town. And thus it was that, as I finished 6th grade, I took swimming lessons for two weeks before the beginning First Baptist Church vacation bible school. The teacher was patient and kind, and knew what to do with awkward, un-athletic, no-nose-in-the-water pre-pubescent types who later turn out to be decent swimmers, but who would rather be playing the piano.

And I passed beginning swimming lessons just before turning 12 years old.

1973. My mother made that jacket for me out of pure polyester double-knit.