I really thought I was the only adult on the planet who didn't know how to swim.
I kept it a secret from everyone - even my ex-husband, to whom I was married for 10 years. No idea that I couldn't swim.
"Think about it," I said. "When did you ever seem me swim?"
My son thought it was because I didn't want to be seen in a bathing suit, and I have to admit that was part of the reason, but a very small part.
I remember one vacation, when I still married to his dad, and we went to an amusement park that had water slides and a lazy river on which visitors lounge on innertubes and twirl through the rapids. I sent my son and his dad down the river while I found a comfy bench and read a book - by myself. I was an expert at feigning this or that reason - I look fat in a bathing suit, it's that time of the month, I'm afraid of heights (water slides), I'll take pictures while you guys have fun, blah blah blah.
Admitting I was overweight or afraid of heights was easier than admitting I didn't know how to swim.
My son is fearless. The other day, he and my boyfriend were talking about skydiving, and my son said he wanted to do it, too.
"Really?" I said to him, surprised.
"It would be like flying," he said.
Funny, I thought it would be like falling.
I remind myself when he and I have these conversations, I made a vow to myself to be Fearless at 40. Fear didn't stop me from traveling to France alone in 2001, but it stopped me from trekking to the uppermost level of the Eiffel Tower. I got to the second level, took in the views of Paris, and told myself, "Yup. Good enough. Let's get you down from here."
Nearly 10 years later, I am filled with regret.
Last night, a girlfriend and I had our first swim lesson with Anne, the swim coach, who is EXCELLENT. She had us doing drills where we wrapped our arms around our legs, held our breath and curled up like an egg under water. It let us feel our buoyancy. I held my breath forever. In fact, I got kinda bored, so I came up for air. Thirty-five seconds, she said. Not quite near forever, and I could have held it longer.
More breathing exercises taught me I take in WAY too much air when I swim, which explains why I get winded - and drink water - and showed me that I need only a tiny gulp of air because ... lo' and behold ... I'll be getting another one in about two seconds.
I have been amazed at the people I know who have admitted that they don't now how to swim. A manager here at work said he learned how to swim as an adult and, coincidentally, used the same swim coach that my friend and I are working with. He went from being a nonswimmer to doing Iron Man triathlons and swimming 2.5 miles.
I have six weeks to master swimming 250 yards, nonstop.
I am Fearless over 40. I will do it.