I Am Not A Swimming Instructor

Freedom from the shackles of a job title…

“ Facebook requires you to say what your business page is about. Feasible categories include Swimming Instructor, Health and Wellness Website, Teacher/ Tutor and Swimwear Store. Alexander Technique isn’t on the list. I went for Tutor/ Teacher. “

“You’re not a swimming teacher are you? You’re a therapist,” a friend said to me on a bike ride.  I took exception to this because I’m not a therapist. But he did have a point.

I would say the thing I do best is help people learn to trust the water to support them, by approaching their problem, of not being able to swim, differently. Learning to swim shouldn’t be about struggling across the water but letting it support you by stopping fearful doing. Not everybody can get it but if anyone can help a nervous non-swimmer become independent in water, I’m confident that I’m the man.

I helped someone float and regain her feet independently for the first time, before we broke up for the summer. I was quite proud of this achievement, for both of us, because her fear in water was so strong when she first came. She knew she needed to come out to Wales if she was going to do it. It took two trips and a lot of hard work.

This morning a friend I often see out walking sent me this link about the amazing benefits of swimming for exercise:

I responded:

Me: Thanks, this is the sort of thing people love. I doubt the truth of most of it. Scientists trot out the same old stuff about swimming and its benefits. In reality most people who swim are unaware that they are stiffening their necks, distorting their backs and gasping. This morning I was planning to go for a pool swim with Cheryl. I did a bit of Alexander Technique work in the kitchen and this helped me to decide that a long walk in the woods would do me more good (and I think it was the right choice).

Friend: I am a pretty hopeless swimmer, stiff necked gasper probably sums it up. A long walk in the woods sounds more pleasant to me than a pool swim.

Me: You don’t look like a stiff necked gasper when you’re walking and that’s the main thing, I reckon. Swimming is too popular at the moment. Think jogging in the 1980s!

Friend: You don’t do a very good job of selling swimming, Mr. Swimming Instructor!

Me: People are keen to learn to swim but need to be shown that in water, less is more. Just floating about is the most beneficial thing most of us can do. I don’t mind selling that. I have less and less enthusiasm for swimming distances. Maybe I’m not a swimming instructor but I can and do help fearful people learn to trust the water to support them. That’s what I do most of. Cheryl is more enthusiastic about teaching movement than I am.

The trouble is, when someone like you who isn’t a great swimmer looks at an article like that,  it seems like a no-brainer that you should swim.  Really you’re probably better off walking, even if you decide to become a good swimmer through taking lessons. Because we’re land based animals and we’ve got enough work to do on dry land!

So this morning, I went for a walk in the woods with the dogs, had that quick exchange on facebook messenger and am now sitting here, with a sense of well-being, quite clear that I am not a swimming instructor. It feels like a good morning’s work.

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