Wednesday, March 17, 2004

A Tired...But Proud Dragon!!

Ever since Bethany started “helping” me with the groceries on Wednesday mornings, I have had a little pact with myself (and with her). Before I go anywhere near the store, I get an hour’s workout in at St. Patrick’s Family Centre where we have a family membership. For the past 2 years, it has been a one hour aerobics class of step and sweat, while Bethany plays with other “workout orphans” under the watchful eye of Brenda, the incredible lady hired by the centre for parents who want to get fit.

After Christmas, I decided that my body was just a little too used to the type of workout I’d been doing (and occasionally teaching)... so I decided to take a 10 week session of adult swimming lessons. Just another way to exercise... right??

Wow! I discovered that some of my muscles didn’t get used in aerobics... that doing laps of crawl is much harder than doing step routines and that somewhere along the line after I finished taking swimming lessons, I stopped trying to breathe on my left side during crawl and just stuck to my right. The first two weeks, as I struggled with bilateral breathing and not trying to drink half the pool, I felt like I was that awkward kid again who was never good at sports. By the time I finished 2 laps of the pool, my arms felt like lead and I had no style or form what-so-ever. But... I was certainly getting a more intense workout than I had been in a while! I was even learning how to do the Back Crawl... which I had never mastered at all during my Red Cross Swim lessons over 30 years ago.

Today was our “evaluation” session since the program wraps up next week. I managed to do 100 meters of crawl ( 6 full pool lengths) , 100 meters of back crawl, 50 meters of breast stroke, 50 meters of elementary backstroke and then an endurance swim of 324 meters (18 pool lengths and one more length than I needed to because I hated ending up at the “odd” end of the pool and had to swim back to the tester anyway). To cap it all off we did sculling and treaded water for 5 minutes. I feel like I have used more muscles in my body than I knew I had, but I am also very proud of myself. I won’t know for sure until next week, but I think that will put me at Level 10 swimming!

As I was showering, I wished for a moment that I could travel back in time to put my hands on the shoulders of that little girl who was convinced she had absolutely NO athletic ability at all. Would I hug her and tell her that she needed to just stick with it until she built up some muscle and endurance?? Would I have discovered a jock side to my personality and actually played sports or just enjoyed being fit for fun??

We humans only dance through time one way. I know that when I would come home discouraged at how poorly I did in any sport or attempt to do something physical, I would almost always pick up a pencil and start to draw... or lose myself in the magic of a good fantasy novel. Would I have been as creative if I hadn’t spent so much time drawing??

What I understand now, at long last, is that learning anything takes practice and time. Yes, there will always be cases where there is raw talent and ability... but if it is not honed or given a chance to be used, natural talent won’t make that much difference compared to persistence. I should have seen that, even though I might never have chosen a career as an athlete, I could have still enjoyed being active as I do now. I know that is why I make sure than both girls have the chance to move and learn skills while they are young and as they grow.

I won’t ever be a champion swimmer... I certainly didn’t break any speed records in the pool... but I am a VERY proud dragon tonight!!

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