Swim Lessons Then!
Sometime around 1958, I was introduced to swimming lessons. I’m sure some kids complained about it. I wasn’t one of them! That’s a good thing, because swimming lessons were not optional. In Raymond Washington, the Dr. O.R. Nevitt Memorial Pool was built as a huge volunteer effort between 1952 and 1955. I don’t know what role my parents may have had in its construction. But I know about their enthusiasm for the pool. It was great that the town had a pool, and their kids were going to learn to swim!
I am grateful for the enthusiasm of my parents and the program the small city of Raymond offered during my youth. Every June I was enrolled in the first (chilly) session of swim lessons. I loved the water, and learned more than anything that I was made to be pretty much drown-proof. I know that was the objective of Mom and Dad. Mission accomplished. I progressed through all the levels until the Junior Life Saving class. That was my first failure and my last class. It was a failure in that I didn’t pass the class; I just didn’t have the athletic strength to save Chris Halpin and get him to the other end of the pool, unless he kicked too! It was a success in that I still know I have all the skills to save a drowning swimmer in calm waters.
Click on the photo for a high-res version
The picture above is Mom’s photo from 1962 at the Nevitt Pool in Raymond. The action shot shows my sister Nadine jumping into the deep end for the first time. It was a momentous occasion for her. Standing in the background, in the red trunks is the 10 year old me! As the big brother, I really should have appeared to be more supportive. Also in the background in the blue trunks is my friend Randy Briggs, striking the Atlas pose. Caught in the foreground would have to be his mom, Marie Briggs.
So that’s where it all started. The place was vital, kid centered, and committed to making the youth of Raymond drown-proof. But reflecting on my early training, I never developed a classic, refined free-style crawl. I preferred backstroke, sidestroke, and breaststroke for getting around the pool and lakes.
Fifty-six years later, I’m swimming again, and I’m grateful for all those lessons which which gave me confidence in the water. But today, swimming is for well-rounded exercise, and I want to develop that classic, refined free-style crawl.
I’m making progress in the lanes at VASA fitness. I was excited when they opened nearby, and even more enthused today, as my swimming improves each day.
Swim Lessons Now!
On my own, despite watching hours of Youtube videos, I have not developed that classic, refined freestyle crawl. Fancy that! A couple weeks ago I called The Swim Academy asking about swim lessons. I asked my instructor, Keith Hubbard, for help in developing a more relaxed freestyle stroke, and in week one he coached some better form out of me! Before meeting with Keith, I’d been working up to a half mile swim in the mornings. After my first session, that half mile became easier, and I’m happy that I’m reporting 3.5 miles in 7 days! I can feel the results in the upper body, and I’m just about addicted to it (hopefully). In this case a habit forming addiction would be a good thing.
Keith has been the best for me. Of course, he was easy for me to listen to because he complimented me after the first lap, telling me I already had good form! Kudos to those guys and gals at the Nevitt Pool in the 50s and 60s. But after the fine compliments, we got to work on the refinements, and they are a blessing.
Today was the second lesson, and another leap forward. I’m thrilled to have good instruction and also to see that my 66 year old body will adapt to that good instruction. I can’t wait to get in the pool tomorrow morning where I can get to work on it. In the pool I’ll be thanking a few people: Mom, Dad, the people of Raymond who built the pool in 1955, and my new instructor, who fearlessly took on a 66-year old student.