I hate swimming. At least that’s how I felt on the first day of Adult Swim Two. Energized and excited from not dying in Adult Swim One, I signed up for the next installment but it was different. The class was bigger and the instructor moved a lot faster through a ton of new techniques: breaststroke, sidestroke… Did I just have a stroke because I wasn’t getting any of it.
It was all too fast for me but I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. There was a small group of us standing in the pool looking damp and dazed. We also looked great. Apparently several of us decided to get new swimsuits to congratulate ourselves on completing level one. Great minds retail alike.
The instructor must have seen the looks on our faces because she floated over and explained that she was teaching us a lot of strokes at once so we’d have several to choose from. Choose? I was still trying to get the hang of the first one from level one.
Overwhelmed, I started thinking I’d made a mistake. Maybe I should just quit class, get a refund and go back to Sunday being laundry day. Then I wondered how many times I’d done that; gotten frustrated and quit. Sewing. Calculus. Statistics. To be fair, water was involved then too. Tears count, right?
When I calmed down I realized there’s such an arrogance in adult education. Some of us harbor the idea that because we're grown, learning new things should be easy. We give children the freedom to learn and make mistakes but we don’t give ourselves the same slack. Everybody wants to be a natural. Nobody wants to work.
So I didn’t hate swimming. I hated feeling foolish and incompetent. I was angry at myself for not getting the techniques as quickly as the instructor was teaching them. This is ridiculous. If adulthood is good for anything it should be the understanding that depending on the material, time and talent, the learning curve can be quite curvaceous. So, I resolved to get over myself, go back and learn at my pace.
The following week I got to class early, grabbed a kick board and began doing laps; adjusting my focus and tweaking my technique, while simultaneously relaxing and not overthinking.
It helped that a lot of students were absent that day. With a less crowded pool the instructor was able to review and drill the basics; something, it turns out, all we grownups needed.
So, Adult Swim Three? If it means a new swimsuit, I’m in.