Swimming for Safety

My dear friends Germaine and Marge have a lovely cottage perched on a hill overlooking Lake Huron. They have their own private beach on this primitive, chilly body of water.

It’s so exciting to revisit the lake where I first learned how to swim.  I vividly recall my great aunt Theresa teaching me the doggie paddle—and I actually believed this was swimming! Eventually, I taught myself how to really swim; but the most fun I had was cutting through the giant waves that washed up on some stormy water days. Aunt Theresa would have to coax me out of the water, even though I was shivering all over and my lips had turned blue from overexposure to the frigid temperatures.

Last weekend the air was too cool to feel like swimming. So my friends and I enjoyed great food and camaraderie, along with my dear companion, Richard.

 During the two-hour ride home (complicated by hundreds of orange and white barrels lining the route), Richard reflected, “I really wish I could swim.” I was taken aback because I just assumed that my tall, masculine guy could at least somewhat swim. When I offered to teach him, he answered,  “I really should take some formal classes for people who are water shy like me.”

The next day, I looked at the course description booklet for continuing education at a local college. Lo and behold, they had a course called “Swimming for Water Shy Adults”. What an excellent idea! Besides being fun, swimming is for safety. I believe that anyone who travels or plays in water should learn some basic skills.

I learned the peace of mind that people have during threatening water experiences—like that of the Andrea Doria.  Survivors who I interviewed for my book, Alive on the Andrea Doria!  often remarked how comforting it was knowing they could swim, or how frightful it was knowing they could not. If my life is ever in danger around water, I can be thankful that I earned my Red Cross life-saving certificate while in high school.


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