Learn like Nemo



After much patience with waiting, I have decided it is finally time to try swim again. Before the winter, I was only able to steadily walk, hand paddle and bop gently in the water. Now, I am excited as it is time to actually try to stay afloat and to swim, at least with the upper half of my body since I cannot utilise my bottom half yet.

Swimming normally is an open kinetic chain exercise. This means wiggling and moving all limbs in coordination with the body. This jerky movement will undoubtedly send waves of pain down my back. But no matter what, the show must go on. I must work towards steady progress.

After warming up I gently lowered myself into the water.  My good friend was on stand by to back me up if I needed help with getting in and out of the water.

” How’s the swim?” ” Wet!”

I don’t really know what to say in these circumstances, because though I am getting better at what I do, my back seems forever hurting and I am still feeling rather weak. So much for a sob story, but this is my story about improvement and progress.

I have not swum in four months because for each time that I had swum, I would get sick. Even if the water is heated, my skinny body would catch a cold as soon as I got out of the pool. Colds don’t really run fast, but at least I am doing some sort of running.

A long time had to pass for me to work up going into the swimming pool again. Being not able to be flexible with my body and legs, full of pains, getting into the water was a big challenge in itself. I had to move very precisely and tactically.

Initially, when I first started to swim again, it hurts so much to lift my neck out of the water each time to take a breath. I was forced to automatically learn how to hold my breath and perform the laps.

While in the pool, I also had to spend a long time getting used to the water pressure and its currents. Even that would irritate my nerves.

I have spent many months trying to get well in the swimming pool. Most of the time was patiently spent walking back and forth in the pool until I was steady to learn how to move my arms into the breaststroke positions.  Learning how to pull strokes was another demanding task in itself. But, interestingly enough the breast stroke taught me how to open doors, which is another progress!

Who would think that opening a door needs effort? With an injury like mine, pulling a door open is one thing, balancing while the door is opening is another feat. Every time I open the door, I feel like I’m on a circus tight rope. I have to balance or the door would push me over. Consciously, I would have to make the right move, and strategically I would have to move out of the way fast enough so it doesn’t hit me as it closes. Holding the door is another taste of stabbing pain in my back.

By now, being in the pool I’ve learnt how to freestyle without my legs. I learn how to pull hard enough with each alternating arm, turning vertebrates and hips enough, and most importantly with continuous breathing. On land it might look like I’m scooping ice cream or a very helpless version of swatting a fly, but in the water it looks beautiful, or at least I tell myself.

Each pull down stroke acts as a distraction to elongate my back and in turn stretching it. So besides the normal squishing that hurts, pulling hurts too, everything hurts!

After scooping waters for a while, I figured it was a great time to drink clean water in a cup instead. With a few gobbles I was really glad to be able to swim again. The weather was nicely warming up and I was also starting to feel muscle soreness. Since never being able to fully expand energy or to use my muscle properly I have not felt muscle soreness in a long time. I was so happy to feel this burn when I swam. That was a great burn.

In order to let my pain subside, with every few laps I would have to take a rest by the poolside. The same goes for any activity. If I walk today, tomorrow I would swim instead.

By my sixth session I have trained up to swim half a kilometre with just my upper body, quite a feat I didn’t think possible, but a feat I kept ploughing towards regardless. Who would have guessed my luck that, because I pushed myself so much I’m sick again!

Learning is tedious. It takes time. It has to be steady, one piece, and one step at a time. If it is rushed by too fast, things will be missed, but if things are planned, detailed and on point, it will be learnt.

How are you making steady progress?


10 thoughts on “Learn like Nemo

  1. This is truly inspiring. Your perseverance is amazing. I love it!
    I swam for exercise as well, my Dr said it was zero impact. Everything else, long walks, running, biking etc causes burning searing pain in my back. I still bike and canoe and walk but I can not run, if a bad guy was after me I’d be toast!

    • One day I hope to be able to run, bicycle, and canoe outside 🙂 I’m right here with with you on this journey. Don’t worry if a bad guy was chasing you, he’d catch me first 😛

      Your friend,

  2. Pingback: One of the lessons swimming taught me… | Pins N Ashes

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