Day 17 – I Was Blind, Now I Can See

Posted: January 20, 2012 in January
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As I may have mentioned before I can swim about as well as a school bus, so my brother in law Garry very kindly arranged for me to get a one to one lesson with a friend of his called Stevie who’s a colleague of Garry’s in the wonderful Irish armed forces.  He’s also a very experienced swimmer and, as I found out later, an experienced triathlete. We arranged to meet at the pool where he was working and after an initial chat about what my aims were, how much time I could spare for training and so on he asked me to show him what I could do. I must admit that when Stevie had asked me on the phone how much I could swim I had been a little vague as I didn’t want him to think that he was starting from scratch with me, but after a very brief demonstration of just how little forward motion I was capable of he was soon very much aware.

Undaunted he asked me to relocate over to the kiddie pool, whereupon he flew through the first four weeks or so of an absolute beginner’s swim program with me in about half an hour – float front, back, ball, relaxing in the water, just kicking, kicking with two floats, then one, then just arms etc etc. He had me swim widths of the small pool over and over again, just going over the basics and focusing on relaxing, before moving back over to the grown up’s pool. We kept working for about ninety minutes until we got to the point where I was to swim a number of strokes, breathe, then resume swimming. The breathing and swimming proved to be a bridge too far so we left it at that with Stevie happy that enough progress had been made and I had enough to work on by myself.

After the frustration and disappointment of the night before it was brilliant to get some really good quality coaching like that. Stevie had a very simple and pragmatic approach to what we were doing but was confident that I had more than enough time to get myself to the point where I could swim 3km up and down the river Barrow, as long as I was willing to put the time in. I was absolutely elated leaving the pool, all the confidence that had been drained from me the night before came flooding back and the contrast in my mood when I got home couldn’t have been sharper. Last night I got home and grumped around the house like a fourteen year old Slipknot fan who’d just been dumped by his first girlfriend for some asshole with clear skin and two popped collars, while tonight I was Gene Kelly levels of happy, all silly grin and mid-air heel clicking.

I’d just like to note at this point that when I talked to Stevie first to arrange the swimming lesson that he was very clear that he didn’t want anything from me for the lesson, he was doing it as a favour to me (and Garry), which is fantastically generous of him. He gave me 90 minutes of top class, one to one coaching, and made arrangements for me to go back for further sessions any time I needed them. I was going to say if, but it’s not if, it’s when I drag myself out of the Barrow having completed the swim section of the triathlon on June 2nd Stevie will have had a huge part to play in it, and for that I really thank him. And also of course Garry for arranging it.

Now I just need to practice (and practice and practice and practice).



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