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July 14, 2006

Five on Friday -- Swimming Lessons

courtesy of Criminal Grace:

1. Do you know how to swim?
Not very well, though I did manage to pass the Ann Arbor Rowing Club's swim test, which involved swimming a couple of laps and then treading water for five minutes -- in my clothes. I don't think I would have survived that five minutes had it not been for my friend Shawn, who was doing it with me. Being able to talk to someone made the five minutes go by a lot faster. In any case, I had to pass that test, because wearing a life jacket while rowing crew would have just been way too humiliating!

2. Have you ever had swimming lessons? Did they help?
I was sent to day camp every summer from the age of six to eleven, and there were always swimming lessons involved. They definitely helped -- without these lessons I would have been totally clueless -- but I never got past "advanced beginner." I have often wondered how kids who didn't go to camp learned how to swim.

3. When was the last time you went swimming?
In early December, I attended a medical anthropology conference in Kilifi, Kenya, which is right on the east coast of Africa. The resort where the conference was held had a beautiful swimming pool that appeared to just merge right into the ocean, though this was an optical illusion. One afternoon, a fellow grad student convinced me to swim with her. I was reluctant to do it, as I hadn't been swimming in over three years, and I was embarrassed to be seen in a bathing suit because my weight was down to ninety pounds. When I got into the pool, I found that, having lost all my body fat, I couldn't keep myself afloat.

4. Can you open your eyes under water? Do you plug your nose before going under? Do you even go under?
I do indeed go under -- keeping my head up is too much work! I don't plug my nose, but I do close my eyes. I was able to open them before I started wearing contacts, but now I'm afraid my lenses will float away!

5. Your preference: salt water, fresh water, or pool water?
Definitely pool water -- it is the cleanest! Fresh water is nice because I can drink it (as I once did at Lake Michigan), but there tends to be a lot of scum on lake bottoms. Salt water is also fun because it helps me float. In fact, perhaps I should revise my answer to salt because my best swimming experience ever was in the Mediterranean, in Nice in the summer of 2000.

Posted by eklanche at July 14, 2006 10:53 AM

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