Thursday, July 27, 2006

Swimming Lessons

LOL Yes I am like a kid again starting over. I am taking swimming lessons and even with being deaf these are the best swimming lessons I ever had in my life. I waited a year to get into the class as they fill up fast and I was not quick enough to sign up (there is actually a waiting list). The classes are offered through Team Survivor Northwest which is a fitness program for women cancer survivors and patients. The mission is to keep women in a healthy life style and get them active again.

My classes are every Sunday at the Mercer Island pool and I greatly look forward to learning more from our excellent coach "Ed". There are two pools a) an olympic size lap pool and b) a shallower pool which is half the size. Those who are advanced swimmers practice laps in the olympic size pool. Most if not all of those women are training for the Danskin Triathalon in August with coach Mary of Mary Myer Fitness. The rest of us are in the beginner class and we are taught by Ed who if I understand correctly has been a collegiate swim coach. He is awesome! If you did not know better you would think he was born in the water and was a "merman".

Now some of you who have known me a long time might be sort of confused (especially if you grew up with me or know my history with the water). I have always been a water child and would have been happy had I evolved a set of gills. My favorite memory of the water while growing up is jumping off the ford river bridge in the icy ford river in early summer/late spring and also playing the rock race game at "Dut's" swimming hole. What is the rock racing game you wonder? LOL Well being a rural country bumpkin we were good at using nature to create things to do. We used to find a heavy rock (not too heavy but just enough to keep you at the bottom of the river) and race across the river bottom. Yes sometimes the depth must have been 3 to 4 feet over our heads! We would hold the rocks and scurry across the bottom of the river holding our breath to see who was the fastest. What a blast!

In college I took an aquatics swimming class (to meet one of my PE requirements) and then went on to take Lifeguard training, PADI basic open water (scuba) certification, PADI advanced open water certification, PADI rescue diver certification and specialties through SSI in night diving and low visibility. In addition, to get some more dive time under my belt, I volunteered as an assistant for the diving organizations PADI, IDEA, and NAUI.

So why the heck I am in the beginner class? The tumors destroyed a great deal of my vestibular function. I was absolutely shocked on the third day of treatment to almost drown in 4 feet of water at the hotel pool. I loved just playing around in the water and decided to close my eyes in the chlorine water and do a summersault. Well the summersault never happened and with my eyes shut I could not stand up nor find the surface. Desperate for air I had to finally open my eyes to determine why I could not find the surface in such shallow water. I was alone but thanks to my history with the water I was able to stop panic and think my way out of the situation.

I have tested it out in a pool over the past year. If I close my eyes I cannot complete one full summersault rotation but with a mask I can do 6 perfect summersaults in a row on one breath. The class is to learn the proper technique of swimming I never learned in order to be confident with my skills in the water. When I see water I still long to jump in but the incident brought forth some aprehension that I am working to overcome through greater confidence in my ability.

I love the water and I am not willing to give it up so easily! That is one thing I have learned about NF2. I have experienced many unexpected changes but with learning the right adaptations I can continue to have an active lifestyle.

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