“Those who can, do.
Those who can’t should do it anyway.”
Health Activist, CCWC, CWC, PhD in Obesity, Motivational Weight Loss
Speaker, Author, Writer,
summer’s right around the corner and Speedo-worthiness weather is
soon upon us, one of the smartest things you can do besides knocking
off some of that excess weight you’ve been lugging around for a
while is to make sure your kid, kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews,
neighbors and you know how to swim as soon as they are able to
walk, if not sooner.
I was fortunate
to be born in Coral Gables, the Florida coastal community just below
South Beach, and lived with my grandparents who had an in-ground pool
in their yard. I have a picture of me taken when I was about 9 months
old splashing around in the water near the pool’s edge totally
unattended – as in no floaties, no inner-tube, no noodle and no mom
holding me up. I’m sure she was mere inches from the picture’s
edge, but the point is, my mom and Grandparents made sure that with
all the water surrounding us, I was totally comfortable in it and
could float and swim before I could barely walk. Consequently, I’ve
been like a Mermaid, more comfortable in water than on land, ever
As the years go
by, it amazes me how many people I meet, adults, youngsters and
everyone in between, who cannot swim – and worst of all – some are
deathly afraid of the water to the point of petrification. This is
not a good thing. The water truly is your friend and there’s
nothing, nothing, nothing to be afraid of. You just have to know how
to handle yourself in and around her.
I always try to
help these aqua-phobes become a bit more comfortable with our liquid
environment when we’re in any water, boating or swimming situation.
It’s far more dangerous being that terrified of the water than
learning to respect it and your own limits within it.
Not too long
ago, I had the pleasant experience of talking to a popular, African
American Reverend when he and I were standing in line next to each
other in our health club’s grille.
He had just been
in the news days before at an opening of some Westside kids club and
he, along with another official, took an inaugural plunge into the
brand spanking new pool – in the deep end, of course.
It was apparent
to me that none of the other officials standing on the sidelines
realized the Rev didn’t know how to swim, because by the time
anyone else noticed, he struggled his way to the edge, thrashing and
grabbing at the water with his fingers spread wide open.
spotted his uncomfortable-ness with the situation and his inability
to even tread water. The more frantically he paddled, the slower he
sank. Miraculously, before drowning, he made it to the pool’s rim
and weakly smiled, keeping a stiff upper lip.
The former YMCA
life guard and Junior Leader in me demurely drew the episode to the
Rev’s attention pointing out what he should do if he ever found
himself shipwrecked or in a similar situation again – so he could at
least stay afloat long enough for help to arrive without panicking or
wearing himself out with fear, anxiety and worse.
What was my
advice to him? “Cup your hands and fingers together like little
paddles,” I demonstrated. “Then trace a slow, wide figure-eight
pattern with your cupped hands just below the surface of the water,
almost right in front of you, but down around your waist, like, at
eleven and two o’clock.”
should also move your legs in a gentle bicycle motion to keep your
head and shoulders above the water.
on the movement of your feet and hands and counting slowly from one
to four, over and over again, it will help you to relax and take your
mind off the sheer terror of the thing. Pretty soon, each component
will coordinate with the other and hopefully by then, someone will
see you and come to your rescue.
When I teased
the Rev that he looked like he was going down for the count as he
jerkily tried to make it for the pool’s edge, he laughed and said,
“You know, I ain’t built for no swimmin’.”
“You may be
right, but just in case you ever find yourself in another
over-your-head situation, I sure hope my swimming words of wisdom
snap back to you. At least you won’t look like you’re drowning.
And just because
you’re a man of God, don’t wait for Him to sail down from the
Heavens to save you. With all due respect, Rev, you’ll be waiting a
long, long time.”
Those who can –
do. Those who cannot swim should learn to do so anyway. Your life
depends on it.
# # #
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