Overcoming fear in the pool

Published 7:51 pm Thursday, August 6, 2015

By Tonya S. Swindell

When I was a child, I almost drowned in a hotel swimming pool. My brother saw my hair floating in the water, and he scooped me up and escorted me to our hotel room.

Even though I took swimming lessons as a child and later as an adult, I allowed fear to stop me from learning how to swim. But this past January I got tired of being afraid, so I began taking swimming lessons at a local YMCA.

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Since then I’ve learned a few lessons:

4Instead of holding my breath when my head is underwater I’m supposed to blow bubbles either out of my mouth (like I’m whistling), or out of my nose (like I’m humming).

4Aerobic exercise in the pool is easier on my joints.

4My body burns twice as many calories in the pool as it does when I perform the same or similar exercises on land.

4And as I attend one swimming lesson at a time, I gain confidence that shows up in other areas of my life.

I still get nervous sometimes, so I recite Philippians 4:13, which says; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Psalm 23:4 helps calm my nerves too. It says, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil!”

Recently portions of Isaiah 43:2 came to mind: “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

Last Monday, as I pressed the soles of my bare feet into cold, white floor tiles surrounding the pool at the YMCA, I heard Tina, my swim instructor, say, “OK, this is what I want you to do. Take a step into the water. As you relax and kick your legs, your head will come to the surface.”

Immediately I thought, “Am I ready for this?” I quickly answered my own question by saying, “I CAN do this and I WILL do this!” So I took a deep breath then jumped into nine feet of water.

I began blowing through my mouth before my head reached the water. Then I kicked my legs and continued to blow bubbles until my head bobbled to the surface. Tina saw me panicking a little, so she passed me a long, blue flotation device called a “noodle” that I grabbed with my hands and wedged under my armpits until I was able to swim to the wall.

Dictionary.com defines fear as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined….”

My imagination told me learning to swim would be scarier than it has been in reality. Now the acronym F-alse E-vidence A-ppearing R-eal helps me think of the pool in a new and different way.

Tonya Swindell writes a blog for www.inspirenewlife.org and a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School (KBES.com). She can be reached at 1brightot@gmail.com.