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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pool Time

It has been an interesting few days.

My Lovely Bride, having won a six-month family membership at our local Y, determined I would benefit tremendously from a couple of classes.
I, for my part, noticing Archery, Game Tracking, and Advanced Television Viewing were not listed in the program guide; was less than ambivalent toward partaking of any classes.

Early one morning, while in the midst of my leaving for work routine (consisting of stepping around a whirling dervish named Ike, balancing my travel mug of coffee, grabbing my lunch, and hopefully not forgetting anything), LB announced something to the effect about the sign up for classes closed THAT VERY DAY and did I know what I wanted to take.
As I deftly side-stepped the puppy, tucked my folder under my arm, and tried to not drop my coffee, I believe my response was along the lines of : “Huh??”
She affirmed the question at hand was classes for the Y. Did I care about what I took?
As I was now focused upon getting to the office on time, I tossed off a very casual reply:  “Oh, I don't know. Whatever.”

Rookie Mistake.

Have you ever watched a major league baseball game and seen the shortstop bobble a grounder? A first year Little Leaguer could have made the play.
That is how I felt.

A note to the unmarried or recently married guys out there:   See, what LB did was the classic “Divide and Conquer” gambit. She patiently waited, only reminding me about 6 or 7 times to make a choice. Really. What male would even remotely remember to do this? Come on... give me a break!
Secondly, she had only brought up the topic 3 times the previous evening. How was I supposed to concentrate on Y classes when Duck Dynasty is on?
Thirdly, she waited quietly, sipping her coffee, observing the birds at the feeders until the exact moment I was fully focused upon departing for work to fire the final volley. I had to make a decision, right now.

Well played, Lovely Bride. Well Played.

My decision was:  I decided to not make a decision.
And, boy did that turn out to be a doozie...

That evening, upon my return from the blood-stained, smoke-clogged upheaval of the work-a-day battlefield, she gleefully announced she had signed me up for.....drum-roll please....
SWIMMING WITH FINS   and ADULT INSTRUCTION (aka: “swimming for old people who never bothered to learn as kids, and boy do you feel like a dork now. Your parents were right” lessons)

To say I was less than overwhelmed would be an understatement.
Regular readers may recall my deep seated aversion to water activities.
To come up to speed on this particular topic, the reader may wish to take a look at my May 15, 2013 entry “Water”, and my June 9, 2013 post  “Swimming Pools”.

Okay... all set? Now you can understand my lack of joyous enthusiasm at this news.
But, being the dutiful husband that I am, (and not wanting to waste 20 bucks) I set off to the site of the torture to endure Adult Instruction.

I wandered to poolside; only to see the kid's swim team practicing. Thinking I was early, I sat upon a bench. When the noisy band of children departed; I waited with bated breath for the “big people who can't swim” class to start.

I watched as a bevy of women got in the pool. I waited as the instructor got the class warming up.
They were doing some pretty impressive things for a bunch of swim-like-bricks adults. Finally, I wandered over to ascertain if I was indeed in the proper place.
The right place, yes. Just 2 days late, or 5 days early, depending upon your perspective.
Then, she cheerily said “Fins is after this. Are you signed up for that?” When I told her I was, she gave me a quizzical look.

I waited for Fins to begin. My Lovely Bride showed up, all decked out for her Swim With Fins session. When I had a full grasp of what was entailed, coupled with the NOT FOR BEGINNERS admonition in the flyer, I could only wonder: “What were you thinking?!”

I watched as people effortlessly paddled the length of the pool, happy smiles upon their faces. The instructor, Karen, came by and asked if I thought I could do that. I doubled over with laughter at the sheer absurdity of the question.  I then explained the “hows” and “whys” of my inability to swim.

The upshot was:  Saturday morning found me in the pool, the only guy in a class full of women for “Water Strength and Conditioning”.  The operative phrase in the synopsis was “non swimmers welcome”.  The response to having a man in the group ran the gamut of amusement, to mild interest, to being regarded as something which floated up from the drain.  Yes, there were some who were not bashful in expressing their utter disgust with this male intrusion upon their time.

Next thing I know, I am bouncing up and down, doing jumping jacks, jogging in place, and all manner of ostensibly silly exercises. I was attempting to keep rhythm to the music, and not collide with any other class members.

Did you know when a person jumps up and down in a pool; their swimsuit tends to follow the downward drag of the water? I was surprised by this phenomenon as well. Although not nearly as surprised as the others in the group.  Deftly, I hiked my trunks up, tying the strings with a double bow for extra measure.

Another point of amusement for several of the ladies came during the “leg press with a noodle”. Yeah… it is about as lame as it sounds. The premise is this: one takes a swimming pool noodle, and places their foot at the mid-point of said noodle. One then pushes the foot/noodle combination under water. While the noodle has a natural desire to float to the surface, one presses downward with their foot; thereby replicating the muscle movement of a leg press. There is just one little glitch. When one raises their foot, both ends of the noodle pop up through the surface of the water. It is apparent this exercise was devised by either a masochist or a female.  Hence, the good deal of amusement on behalf of the other members as they watched while I tried to inconspicuously dodge the surfacing noodle.

You know what? Exercising in the water is work! I was sweating like a … well a really sweaty guy when I was finished!  I made a hasty retreat to the locker room. I had endured this test; the real test awaited.

Monday was the Adult Instruction time. Karen, (a different Karen) the instructor is a no-nonsense, I-am- here-to-teach-you-to swim kind of lady. She was not overly impressed by my backstroke, nor with my breast stroke;  both performed  with my head high and dry. Her assessment was direct; we are going to work on putting your face in the water.
What the heck?!? Does she not know that Man is not made to breathe underwater?  Breathing is a long-term, dearly held pastime of mine. In fact, I can’t recall a time when I was not breathing. Now this person wants me to stick my head under the water?

There I was, standing at the edge of the pool, taking a breath, sticking my face in the water, blowing bubbles, raising my head, taking a breath. Repeat. I felt like a total dork.  Not content to let me revel in my accomplishment, Karen insisted upon having me lay on my face, arms extended, while she dragged me through the water. While this little routine was going on, I was supposed to take a breath, blow bubbles, take a breath, etc, etc. Only one time did I inhale about a third of the pool. Have you ever tried to look cool while coughing and hacking up gallons of pool water? It ain’t easy to pull off, let me tell you. I failed miserably.

I was feeling pretty good about myself, and ready to call it a night when Karen announced we were going to work on our arm strokes.  Well, arm strokes; I can do that.  And indeed I did, quite spectacularly in fact. Until it was announced we were now going to incorporate breathing with the arm strokes.  Sure we are.

Yet, I pressed on. After a couple of faux pas, I was able to actually move my arms, breath, and not inhale the pool! I was amazed!

Finally, toward the end of the session, Karen announced she wanted us to incorporate stroking, breathing, and kicking. My gosh the woman is a born comedian! I hung back a bit, watching others venture down the lanes.  I mustered up my courage, and shoved off. I was doing okay, until I started to think about what I should be doing. The wheels came off the cart at that point. I tried again, and made some progress. Again, I shoved off, and realized I had swum half the length of the pool!
In amazement, I gathered up my towel and headed toward the locker room.

While washing the chlorine laced water from myself, I came to an epiphany:  It really doesn’t matter how much water is beneath me. All I have to take care of is the top 12 or so inches.

Maybe LB had a good idea after all.

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