Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Soggy, But Triumphant

Front to back: George, Me, Chris, Jerry, Dad and Blair.
Look closely. Can you pick out the intrepid swimmer?
I had never taken swimming lessons.
We simply lived too far from the city (Lethbridge) for it to be a priority. Or even possible.
But I loved to swim.
And, with the river in such close proximity, did it a lot.
In the summer.
In winter, for obvious reasons, we were pretty much shut out.
Then, someone of great intelligence from the town came up with a fantastic idea.
Why not hire a schoolbus and cart a load of kids to Lethbridge once a week?
It was genius!
Swimming lessons had become a reality.
I was going!
The bus ride was a treat. I wasn't confined to my usual fourth row back and Kathy had a portable record-player, which she kept going the entire trip.
Do you have any idea how many times you can listen to the Surfaris 'Wipe-Out' in a fifty-mile bus ride? Answer: A few.
The bus deposited us safely in front of the Civic Center and we scrambled madly for the door and the change rooms, then poured out into the main pool room.
We were ready.
The teachers began to sort us into groups, using a list of highly-specialized criteria.
How old are you? Are you afraid of the water? Have you ever taken swimming lessons before? What colour is your swimsuit?
Do you like boys?
Finally they had us, more or less, categorized.
I had never taken swimming lessons, so I was inserted into the beginners class.
“Okay, kids. See if you can put your face into the water.”
Woohoo! Compliance! I took off like a seal.
“Okay. You! Little girl in the blue swimsuit!” Sigh. “Would someone please fish her out?”
Have I mentioned that I like water?
“Are you sure you've never had lessons?”
Head shake.
“Well, I'm moving you up to the next level.”
Okay.
And so it went.
By the time we were finished our one-hour lesson, I had been . . . promoted . . . seven times.
It must have been some sort of record, to go from the beginner level to the 'Junior Lifeguard' level.
In one lesson.
Who could have known that all my flailing and thrashing around like a demented fish had actually been getting me somewhere.
Or that, in the still water of a pool, with no current to fight, I could actually make headway.
Really fast headway.
Jerry (the only member of my family who could fight the river's current and win), eat your heart out.
Because miracles do happen.
I was suddenly the soggy and triumphant queen of my little, watery world.
It didn't happen often.
But it was a very good feeling.

19 comments:

  1. It's a wonderful feeling to excel at something.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A true validation for self-teaching!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I certainly can't dismiss anyone when they tell me they're self-taught!

      Delete
  3. Like Delores said, it's a good feeling to excel at something. I would add, especially when no one is expecting it. I was one of the shortest kids in my junior high gym class, ran awkwardly, couldn't catch or hit a ball. Somehow I was able to high jump far above normal for my height. It was the one and only activity I felt good about in gym class :)

    "Like a demented fish" hee hee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HIGH JUMP???!!! You are a super hero!

      Delete
    2. Please don't ask me to do it now :)

      Delete
  4. It MUST feel wonderful to excel.
    I too love water. And swimming. Can't remember any lessons though. The Great White Whale gets through the water without...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heehee! See? you're like me. Self-taught!

      Delete
  5. This sounds like the boy in the "Karate Kid" who was learning karate all the time he was doing chores for his teacher. Wax on wax off!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh! I like this. I didn't know I was learning. Till I . . . learned!

      Delete
  6. It's a nice feeling finding out you are already proficient at something you thought you needed to learn. My brother and I did a similar thing splashing around at the beach for years before the state declared free lessons each summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And you probably outpaced everyone at your first lesson. Right?

      Delete
  7. As always, you write the most charming stories, especially to those of us who had portable records players and played "Wipe Out" over and over again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Brenda! Heeheeheeheeheeheeheehee...WIPEOUT!!!

      Delete
  8. It's a wonderful feeling to excel at something.and encourages to make some new thing.

    Reply

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, Dhaval! One little success opens the door to trying something else!

      Delete

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