SwimSwam welcomes reader submissions about all topics aquatic, and if it’s well-written and well-thought, we might just post it under our “Shouts from the Stands” series. We don’t necessarily endorse the content of the Shouts from the Stands posts, and the opinions remain those of their authors. If you have thoughts to share, please [email protected]
This “Shouts from the Stands” submission comes from Elizabeth Hastings:
Upper Case “M”–Manatee or Masters?
I took swimming lessons when I was young, as my kids do now.
I floated through seahorse, octopus and albatross into whale, dolphin and Disney’s mermaid.
Three kids later and, insert fake age here, I stand before a six lane swimming pool, a full-grown manatee.
How did I get here, aside from my minivan?
I have been watching from the sidelines for almost ten years, the day I became a parent.
Two things kept bobbing around my head at my kids’ lessons while I developed chlorine-lung from being an observer and not getting in the game myself; 1) I used to be able to do that and 2) I wonder if I could still do that?
I enrolled in a Masters swimming class.
I wasn’t sure what defined the group as Masters, nor did I understand their insistence on an upper case “M.”
I knew one thing for certain. I wasn’t a Master and certainly not a very good swimmer as my only surviving report card would attest: “Elizabeth can float for 5 seconds with some assistance.”
I encourage my kids to do things that scare them. To take risks and enroll in activities that shuttle them great distances from our home.
I wanted them to see my words in action and what could be scarier than going from a sea turtle to knocking flippers with the Masters?
I gave careful consideration to the bra and underwear that might be seen by strangers in the change room and opted to wear my best of each (not a set) but turtled into a closed door cubby leaving my Hanes-Her-Way’s a mystery.
After the first lesson, I thought my legs would never bend at the knee again. I dawdled to the change room an emperor penguin, thankful, my three year old was at my side so choosing to impersonate a stiff-kneed bird drew no extra attention.
I went from tears and vomit of pain, to tears and vomit of joy in a matter of weeks.
Here’s the great part. My kids were proud of me, just for trying. They didn’t care that I was assigned the “special project” lane so as not to interfere with the actual Masters (who might have been psychology students filming me for a project) while I drank my body-weight in pool water.
They didn’t laugh when I washed my bathing suit in the machine and it sagged enough to fit an actual manatee.
I wore kid’s goggles because I’m frugal and had no idea this might actually stick and my daughter’s bathing cap because I have an embarrassingly small head.
After that first lesson, I would never again assume that my kids using their kickboards during a workout meant they were “taking a break.”
I would never underestimate the physical and mental stick-to-itiveness it takes to participate in a sport like swimming.
If having kids has taught me anything, it’s that upper case “M’s” aren’t just for Masters.
They’re for Moms.