1. Technical Difficulties... I loved swimming as a kid. I learnt the basic ability of keeping my head above water and paddling, and that was nice. But then came the compulsory school swimming lessons. It took me 3 Summers to pass level 4. The level where you learn freestyle. My ears seemed to be incredibly susceptible to filling with water, in quite the uncomfortable fashion. Ear-plugs didn't work for me, but I finally discovered that blu-tac is the ultimate when it comes to plugging your ears against water. And just like that, I passed level 4. I still hated swimming lessons though.
2. The Fear, Part 1... When I was 12, my best friend and I were playing with a ball in my backyard. We threw it a bit hard, and it sailed over the pool fence and landed smack in the pool. Now, let me paint you a picture. It was Winter. The pool was green and faintly murky. I was wearing big heavy denim overalls and knee-high gumboots. Can you see where this is going...? I leaned over to snatch the ball, and my somewhat cheeky friend (ridden with guilt over this incident for the rest of our days as high schoolers!) gave me a little push, and in I toppled. I don't actually remember what happened between that moment and getting pulled out of the water on the other side. I went into shock before I even hit the water, and blacked out. Yep
3. Face to face! I always loved being in the water on our family trips to the river. I was always super curious about marine life. I'd go out there as deep as I could with my little butterfly net, and I'd come back with tiny fish, baby prawns, star fish, and on one particularly exciting trip my sisters and I found a handful of these long, thin seahorse-like creatures, clinging to wayward bits of seaweed. One Summer evening, I was on the shore, eating dinner with my family, and we noticed a pod of dolphins out in front of us. Without thinking, I raced to the water, splashing to catch the dolphins' attention, hoping to get them to come in closer. It wasn't something I was expecting to happen, but suddenly one dolphin changed direction and started heading straight towards me. As it got closer, I realised just how big the thing was, and I... panicked! I fled out of the water as quickly as I could.
4. The Fear, Part 2... Remember story #2? Shortly after that ordeal, I had a bit of a fear of sticking my head under the water. It didn't last long, but by the time Summer came around, I realised that compulsory swimming lessons would be starting up again at school. The week before the lessons were due to start, I quietly asked to see my PE teacher in her office after class. As soon as we got there, I opened my mouth and burst into tears! Between sobs, I told her about 'the incident', and cried that I was now too afraid to swim. I'm here to admit right now, that was an act. I wasn't scared. I just freaking hated swimming lessons. My teacher, bless her, was incredibly understanding and excused me until I was ready. So for the rest of that school term, while my fellow students were in swimming lessons, I was sent to regularly scheduled appointments with the school counsellor to deal with my 'fear'. At the end of term, she suggested that I give it a go once again, get in the water with my class mates. This is where it got kind of embarrassing. Everybody watched nervously as I clambered down the pool steps and paddled a bit. The teacher called out "Try putting your head under water, Klara!" and, as my well-meaning classmates cheered me on, I 'faced my fear'.
And so ends installment #1 of 4 Stories!