Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fear of Swimming Again

The last time I was in a pool deeper than 5 feet was probably over 3 years ago, when I was taking life-guarding classes during high school. I taught myself how to swim when I was 16 (after failing PE because I was terrified of drowning). My senior year of high school, there was an after school program for students interested in getting certified as lifeguards. I joined. I thought that it would make me a better swimmer and it did. During the course, besides the in-class practicals, written exams, we also had to practice in the water. Then speed was also an issue. We had to pass the swim test under a certain time. I did fine. I passed and got certified.

What I don't understand, is what happened on Monday night as I swam across the pool towards the deep end. I usually swim in my campus gym (deepest it gets is probably 6 feet). Today, I had a class on West Campus, the pool was 11 feet at it's deepest here. I didn't sweat it when I walked into the pool room. This should be easy. I had just biked 10.5 miles on the stationary bike, so my legs felt like jello.. 10 laps should be fine for today.

First four laps were ok, I would breathe every 3 or 4 strokes. I was calm.
On my third way back towards the deep end, water started seeping into my goggles. I also had no contacts on because my eyes had been bothering me. As they started to fill up with water, I kept swimming. My goggles started bothering me to the point where I had to close my eyes.

I panicked the second I closed them. How far was I from the wall?

Easy now..

I started taking a breath after every stroke. Should I just grab the wall on my left? I tried peeking through my goggles. I could see I wasn't that far away, so I relaxed a little and just kept trying to move forward. My hand finally touched the end of the pool. My heart was beating so fast. Why am I so scared? Is it the fear of drowning? Failing? I use to love to dive into the deep end. What's going on..

I had situated myself in the lane next to the wall, right where the lifeguard was sitting. I shouldn't be worried..

I took a deep breath, and swam towards the shallow end. As I was standing in the shallow, I wanted to quit and climb out of the pool. This is ridiculous.

I was so pissed off at myself. I tried again.

The same thing happened. I was gasping for air near the last few feet from the end. Stupid goggles.

I finally climbed out.

What was wrong with me? I know this was probably because I am unfamiliar with the feeling of swimming in the deep again... but this def scared me. I'm not sure why I'm still scared of drowning..
During my swim I kept thinking of people who compete in triathlons and about the swimmer who drowned in the lake during the race last summer. This really discouraged me. I don't think I'll ever be able to swim in the lake.. Not after today.

I still have hope though.. I'm determined to go back next week (with better goggles). I'm hoping this time around I don't chicken out.


Any tips of how not to freak out?
Is there anything that scares the hell out of you, but you still go ahead and do it?


  1. If it's any consolation, most of the people who die during the swim portion of triathlons do so because of an underlying health condition, not because of swimming ability. It'll get easier :)

  2. I wonder, does your pool have a diving board? Most new pools don't have deep ends because they ripped them out about 20 years ago and pools are just for swimming now! Sorry to hear about your experience in the pool. Like GF said, It'll get easier!