Surviving Swimming

For someone working in media, it should be natural for me to be a risk taker.

Working in the field, faced with challenging situations every single day- one cannot be weak or too picky with which risks to take.

If you want to get a story done, you wouldn’t mind flying on board your military’s C130 plane to Jolo, or sail through the rough waters of Quezon at the height of a storm.

When I am at work, I always put on my confident self- one that looks credible, competent and authoritative. I try to always look like I can do anything, like there’s no battle I will ever retreat from.

But to be honest, it always takes a lot of guts and prayers before I take on a challenge and really jump at risks to get things done. Not to mention, that I have three of the simplest fears to conquer.

I have escalator phobia. I am afraid of heights. And I am hydrophobic.

When I first worked in GMA7 in 2007, I refused to take swimming class. I told myself, until the mere thought of taking a bath on a shower drowns me, I will never learn how to swim. So yes, I would go to the beach and stay near the shore, pretending to enjoy the water- while deep inside I’m scared as hell to die anytime.

Late last year though, all that was about to change because I again put up a confident face- I was half convinced I already wanted to learn how to swim.

My fiancé, who himself is a very good swimmer and has just undergone water rescue training cheered me on. To take the hesitations away, he went with me to the mall and was all praises at how good I looked on my pink swimming outfit.

On November 16, 2010, I finally took the first step and showed up in my swimming class.

Yes, that’s the pink rash guard my fiance bought for me.

My ticket to conquering my fear of water. After 20 + long, long years.

I warned Coach Sarie of how bad my hydrophobia was. Told her that I drown even in the shower, that’s why the good old tabo and timba have been my best friends.

LESSON 1:To help me get through the day, she asked me to get a feel of the water first by walking inside the pool. When I reached the deeper portion of the pool, I felt like drowning again. I had to walk back and forth, back and forth, six times I guess until I walked on water like I was just walking in the park.

LESSON 2: That same day, she taught me the proper way of breathing in water. I was too scared to try it and was making up every excuse not to put my head underwater. Ni hindi ko kaya ilubog ang ulo ko sa tubig, pano ko matututo? But because the clock was ticking and I was thinking I’m being such a brat, I followed her instructions. Yes, after getting water inside my nose and ears too many times, I learned how it was to breathe in water.

LESSON 3: But the highlight of the first day was letting myself float on water. When you’re hydrophobic and you’re finally able to float, that in itself is a huge achievement. Coach never got tired of convincing me that I can do it. She held my hand until The day ended with just me, floating all by myself. (I’m a natural floater, Coach said. Didn’t know some people were natural sinkers too)

Attending a two-hour swimming class once a week was tiring. I would always complain of getting tired just one hour into class, and would be very hungry when it’s over. Of course it took a lot of discipline too, to show up and swim (or float during the first few sessions) considering how scared I was to even try before.

On my third session I was already taught freestyle strokes, and one of my other coaches, Adrian said I was a quick learner for an adult. Many times they would tell me that I shouldn’t be ashamed that I learned this late, because there are others out there older than I am who are just starting to learn how to swim.

Yesterday on my final day of swimming class, Coach Sarie didn’t come with me to the water anymore. She just told me to enjoy myself. I was still scared to do it on my own, but I thought, if I have made it this far- what else can I not do in water now?

Proud of myself, I swam without holding on to any board back and forth the pool. Oh yes, I survived it all.


With Coach Sarie, on my last swimming class. (January 26, 2011)

Looking back now, I guess I will never get over this joy of achieving something so big for myself. I am so proud I pushed myself literally to my limits.

It is no joke, that after 20+ years of being scared of water, I finally saw myself swimming and enjoying doing so! I will always remember the first time I was able to float- and the joy of not seeing my feet underwater when I tried to check whether or not I really was floating already!

You wouldn’t understand how it felt, but while i was making that last lap last night -it felt like I was graduating from years of hard work in school.

Call it crazy, call it whatever. But if I survived this, hell yes, I know I can conquer my many other fears as well.

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2 thoughts on “Surviving Swimming

  1. susan banzon says:

    nice, lia!!!
    yes, i am an on-off student at lozada too.. once i get some lessons, i stop, practise, then re-enroll, to improve strokes, to gain more strength and endurance. would u believe, i learned to swim at 45!!!

    so liberating, so transforming!!! let’s go swim!!!

  2. Joy says:

    Thank you for this inspiring article.
    I am now trying to learn how to swim because in our (college) curriculum, we are required to take Basic and Advanced Swimming subjects. I always cry during our class sessions and so I decided to take private lessons for me to cope with the class pacing. I really hope I can conquer my fear of water soon or else I won’t be able to graduate!

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