There I stood staring at the waters as they stared back at me – blue, tranquil, but frightening.
I hadn’t been near a kiddie pool in years let alone a nine-foot-deep one.
“Do you want to get in today or next class,” he asked.
“I’ll wait until next class so I can psyche myself up,” I replied.
It was only the first day of class and I was already scared to even get in.
Flash forward a few months and I am now able to swim.
Professor Charles Tucker’s Beginning Swimming – KSPE 1240, is catered to each individual starting at their own level of swimming.
There were those who could swim but couldn’t tread; those who could tread, but couldn’t float on their back; and there was me who couldn’t do anything but stand in the water.
I started out by learning how to float on my back.
It was quite tricky at first. I had the overwhelming feeling that I would fall straight through the water and down to the bottom.
Coach Tucker would often say, “that water will hold you up,” and “you have to trust it.”
I came to trust it eventually and after a week or so I floated on my back with ease, without the aid of a floating belt.
Next I learned rotary breathing. In order to swim several laps without stopping, it is useful to know how to do this technique.
It involves inhaling from the mouth when above water and exhaling from the nose when under water.
Coach Tucker had several of us do up to 50 of these each class until we were comfortable with the method.
Then we were ready to use this technique while doing kicking laps with the kick board float until being able to do without the kick board completely.
Treading was another task not easy to tackle. Keeping my legs in a steady rhythm and trusting I wouldn’t “fall,” was terrifying, especially when I got into the deep end where I could no longer feel my feet touch the bottom of the pool.
For safety, Coach Tucker would stand by with a float pole for us to reach up and grab in times of need. I started out barely being able to tread for three seconds.
Today I can tread for over three minutes.
My fellow students have improved at various levels as well, and each notice a difference in their abilities compared to before class started.
Constance Ponder, a senior middle grades education major, signed up for beginners swimming after being in Coach Tucker’s water aerobics class.
She wanted to become a more confident swimmer. “I was a decent swimmer, but I did not know how to float on my back and I was afraid to swim in anything over 5 feet,” she said.
Ponder has made great strides, however, since class began. And most importantly, she has conquered her fear.
“I have learned how to better trust myself,” she said. “I am more water friendly, so to speak. This class has taught me how to relax and have more confidence in myself.”
Atira Furman, a junior Mass Media major, took beginners swimming to better improve her swimming skills.
“I can swim laps, maybe two in a row without stopping. I have also begun to master the breathing technique,” she said.
Furman has also experienced added benefits by swimming.
“I have also learned some water aerobic exercises and lost a few pounds,” she said.
I can honestly say that I have overcome my aquatic phobia and I enjoy swimming much more now than I did when classes first started.
It feels empowering to have reached my goals within one semester with Coach Tucker’s guidance.
I know my fellow classmates feel the same and would encourage anyone who does not know how to swim to feel motivated and take the first step by enrolling in KSPE 1240.