My year of swimming: gaining the confidence to try something new


One of the hardest things about exercise is gaining the confidence to start in the first place.

The swimming pool is my ocean of insecurity. I remember swimming all the time as a kid, but pretty much stopped after grammar school (possibly because I became more aware of what I looked like in a bathing suit!). The longer I went without getting into a pool, the more I became convinced that I couldn’t swim in the first place.

After years of procrastination, I finally started swimming again last January. Now I wonder how I ever lived without it.

What happened to get me started? A few things…

  • I hurt my ankleLong story short: I used to run regularly, then I injured my ankle. Yes, it sucks that I had to hurt myself to look for other forms of cardiovascular exercise, but that’s life!
  • I quit the gym – Another long story short: Without running, I turned to the gym for my exercise. But I eventually decided that the gym was an expensive way to not have very much fun.
  • I discovered London Fields Lido – The outdoor heated pool in the middle of rough and tumble Hackney is its own oasis.
  • Tim encouraged me – Support from friends and loved one is probably the best confidence booster their is. Tim suggested I start with the breast stroke, which gave me a bit of direction.
  • I bought a bathing suit and swimming goggles – Well I wasn’t about to swim in my undies.
  • I read about the basic strokes on the BBC website – It’s no substitute for swimming lessons, but it did give me an idea of what to do when I actually got into the pool.
  • I went swimming once – I didn’t commit myself to a long term swimming program. I started with one swim; if I didn’t like it, no one was forcing me to go back. But I did like it, and I did go back.
  • I looked at what other people were doing – When I was finally IN the pool, at the start of my very first lap EVER, I took a moment to survey the situation. The slow lane was a great place to get acquainted; there I found people of all types and abilities making their way across the pool and back again. Lots of people were clearly beginners. Others were hard core. But everyone seemed really happy to be there. So I plunged in and joined them!

This season, we often focus on all the things we want to change in the new year, but let’s not forget the things that went right THIS year. After all, the lessons we learn from success can help us to succeed in other areas.

Swimming is my most rewarding discovery of 2007. Yes, I’m fitter and stronger, but the best part is the fun in finding a new hobby. I’m not only learning how to swim, but also how to be confident and patient. My strategy from here is to use swimming as a template for finding confidence and patience in other areas of my life.

What about you? What’s your biggest success of 2007? How did you do it?

Photo courtesy of onionbagblogger on

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