After you move to Los Angeles, you’ll begin to feel invincible, or at least stronger than you’ve ever felt before. You’ll begin to think about those fears you’ve held for so long and you’ll be willing to try to face them as best as you can.
For me, one of my biggest fears was learning how to swim. At 34 years old, I still wouldn’t go anywhere near water that might reach higher than my neck. But after surviving in Los Angeles for a year and a half I decided that maybe I could do it. I signed up for my first swimming lessons ever at the YMCA. $140 for one 45 minute lesson per week or $70 if you are a YMCA member. I joined the YMCA to get the discount.
At first things went well, I enjoyed my instructor’s technical approach to swimming. He would stand outside of the pool and explain the moves to us. I was a dedicated student, imagining myself one day jumping off a cliff into a lake in a canon ball. In my mind I was fearless. I practiced on our off days. I watched videos online at home.
As the half way mark to our classes approached I realized that we were not progressing. My beginners adult swimming class had about 4-5 people in it per week, most times less than that. For some reason, we were not moving on to practice our techniques in the deeper pool. When I asked my instructor Fernando about it, he said that as a class we weren’t advanced enough and suggested I retake the class.
Not. I’m not doing that. I decided to just see what happened.
During our final class, we FINALLY moved from the shallow training pool to the deeper pool and I was so excited. Even though I knew that it was our final class I somehow felt confident that the transition from 3 feet of water after 7 weeks of practice to 8 feet would be smooth and Fernando would know just how to help me overcome my fear.
He didn’t. I didn’t. I ended up leaving the class after 10 minutes.
He asked us to crawl alongside the pool edge until we reached 8 feet. I was trembling as I did this but I did it. Then he asked us to stand up as tall as we could while holding onto the wall, balancing on our feet against the wall and then let go and fall back into the water.
Yeah right. He may as well have said:
There was no way I was EVER going to just fall back into 8 feet of water and I had never been in 8 feet of water before. How does that make sense?
As I clung to the side of the pool, I asked him to help me get out because I was afraid and he told me that if I wanted to get out I had to climb out by myself. I reached out my hand and asked him for help to get out and he shook his head. He stood 6 inches in front of me with 8 feet of death water behind me and watched as I painstakingly gripped the wall with my feet (with no ladder) and hoisted myself up.
I was livid to say the least. My biggest fear was being in a situation where I needed help to save my life and having the person say No. My fear came true that day.
I don’t recommend taking adult swimming lessons at the YMCA, not only because I was refused assistance when I was needed help, but because I do not believe the classes are designed with adults in mind.
That class should have been called- Foundations of Swimming and it should have been clearly explained that by the end of the 8 weeks you would probably not know how to swim but you would be more comfortable in the water.
I’m looking for other swim lessons to take sometime in the future. There are lots of instructors in Los Angeles. I do enjoy being a member of the YMCA but the adult swimming lessons for beginners aren’t designed to see adults progress.