"The mind is the limit." - A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
I have a favourite story about my self-image as a swimmer and how childhood memories were stored in my subconscious mind and determined my success.
As an 8-year-old I received my first swimming certificate which was The Herald Swimming Certificate. It was awarded to students who learned to swim at least 25 yards.
Days at my local swimming pool hold magical memories: meeting friends at weekends or holidays, mixing with kids from different schools, swimming, diving, playing games and showing off our healthy physiques.
While I had a backyard pool and spent many weeks at the local pool, I was never to attend swimming lessons or have any further involvement with squads or the like.
In my junior year of secondary school, I participated in the annual swimming carnival. I was always the last to finish a race because I couldn't swim very well and never tried hard enough to improve. Then one day during the middle of a 50 metre freestyle race, as usual, I suddenly felt this pain in my stomach( at the 25 metre mark) and calmly lifted myself out of the water with an expressionless face while grabbing onto it like someone had stabbed me. The teachers ran over and helped me stand up on the side of the pool where they asked if there was anything specific that hurt before rubbing their hand against my abdomen looking for any sharp pains. Once I confirmed there was no any pain when doing this, they told me get dressed and spectate. I was ecstatic…no more races and the end to humiliation.
Ten years later, as a young teacher, I was invited by a colleague to swim at a local pool during a particularly humid Melbourne summer.
While I was very happy to accompany her, I was quick to explain that I was no swimmer. She laughed at me and told me anyone could swim laps if they practiced.
Reluctantly I joined her for a swim but again, reached the 25 metre ( 25 yards) mark and stopped. She watched my efforts and explained that I was not breathing properly and suggested that this was the only reason I was becoming fatigued. I listened to her explanations of technique and gave it a go. To my shock I managed to swim one lap of the 50-metre pool. With my new found success and my colleague’s encouragement and belief in me, I continued to swim with her during many lunch hours to come. "No doubt about it, you're a fish now." She laughed.
I always loved the water and but never imagined swimming to be this easy.
Over the next 2 weeks, I swam 20 laps of the 50 metre pool. I continued to swim during each of my three pregnancies (a kilometre each session) and to this day will proudly and confidently tell anyone who asks- I’m a good swimmer.