Photos by Tito Nicolau at FroginRedTie
Well, I’m not there yet, but soon will be! And I am doing everything to get there, practising daily.
I’ve always fantasised about being a Merman, swimming in the deep ocean amidst colourful sea life, wearing a custom made merman’s tail and carrying a Trident à la Neptune. But given the fact that my claustrophobia gets worse when I go under water, or get into stagnant water in an enclosed space, this fantasy of mine is yet to become a reality.
Being a clean freak and a bit OCD has also interfered with my interest in swimming. Mainly because I am always paranoid about germs via others, but ever since my first session with Swim for Tri’s Keeley Bullock at Market Sports gym, my attitude seems to be changing. I am more relaxed now.
I figured out that my parents were reluctant to let me learn swimming as a child after another boy had an accident and almost drowned in the pool. Then there were constant reports of boys drowning at sea. I spent most of my childhood in Palliyawatta (It means “The Church Garden,” in Sinhala), on Sri Lanka’s west coast. In a brief period during the island’s long civil war, and the insurgency, dead bodies would wash up against the shore and corpses would float in the Hamilton Canal in our town. (Continued…)
My father stopped buying fish and I was furious as I adore seafood. But it was a good thing really. Who in their right mind would want to eat fish that had pecked at a decaying corpse?
We weren’t allowed to go into the water either. My mother was so paranoid about germs and I eventually ended up a clean freak obsessed with hygiene, tidiness and organisation, bordering on OCD. Thanks, Mummy & Daddy!
The only good thing to come out of this is that I do enjoy being clean. Exfoliating in the shower and moisturising afterwards is wonderful. Baths I am not that keen on, but occasionally, a candle-lit, sandalwood oil-infused bath with someone special or at least special for the moment/night is a good thing, don’t you think?
Claustrophobia was something I never sought treatment for. I’d heard about patients being asked to sit inside boxes, dark rooms and so on, and also that treatment may not be successful. I did not do any research into this topic. I have no idea why. It was just one of those things and I adjusted my life accordingly.
But swimming has always been something I wanted to do. But getting into the water, especially water that is stagnant in an enclosed space, always made me feel agitated. I don’t like going underwater either, and even if I master the art of swimming, I can never see myself going deep sea diving. I like to be in control of all the elements. The risk of something going wrong and ending up injured or dead terrifies me. Mainly because I love life too much and am very happy, enjoying a career that is my passion as well as having an overall happy life.
Anyway, so coming back to swimming, Keeley Bullock at Swim for Tri is whom I would call the Queen Bee of swim coaching & teaching. She assured me that I would be fine.
I had my doubts but was surprised when we got into the water. I took a deep breath and shut my eyes. Keeley told me to stay calm and told me how to breathe properly. Suddenly I was calm. No agitation. No sharp intakes of breath. Like, seriously? WOW!!!
We started off with breathing exercises; blowing into the water, and then gradually moved onto putting my head under water and breathing out then coming up for air and breathing in. I soon got the hang of it. When I went underwater, all I saw was colourful fish including a rather playful looking Nemo. Mini coral reefs and a few sultry mermaids. Well, I was imagining it all of course. But it made me happy! (Continued…)
Keeley also gently dragged me along the pool and I had to kick my legs. This was fun and she told me that I am a fast learner. As always at the gym, I was laughing and joking constantly. I wish other members would stop shooting irritated looks my way. Honestly, don’t these people have a sense of humour? Needless to add, there are also the ones who are amused and end up chatting to me.
When the session came to an end, I was a bit disappointed. I had started to enjoy this. So I ended up practising what Keeley taught me.