The Thing You Must Do

Larry - Barranco, Peru
Entered on June 28, 2008
Age Group: 65+

I was eight years old and convinced that I was about to die.

Trembling with fear, I reflected on how I had come to this desperate fate.

It all started when my parents decided that I must take swimming lessons.

I was a sickly waif-like little boy who loathed any form of exercise. I knew nothing about swimming and cared less.

My parents insisted so I reluctantly enrolled in swimming lessons at the ancient, huge indoor pool in our town.

The next day I appeared for my first lesson. I was ready to go to the shallow end with the rest of the beginners when the teacher beckoned for us to walk toward the deep end. Puzzled, I followed, but I started to feel apprehensive. It was a long way to the deep end, and I began to look around to see if I could somehow escape.

Finally we arrived at the deep end and, to my horror, the teacher told us to get on the diving board. Then the first student went to the end of the board and jumped. By now I was quivering with terror and was seriously looking for an escape route. Nevertheless, the line proceeded with incredible speed until it was my turn. Like an automaton, I got on the board, looked down and froze. It seemed so far down there. Finally my teacher screamed at me to jump. I said goodbye to my brief life and jumped.

The water was warm and there were little green bubbles around me. Suddenly a pole was thrust close to my head, I grabbed for it and was pulled to the edge of the pool.

I was alive!

Such joy!

And , you know what, I just loved jumping off that board. It was fun and I quickly got up to do it again.

That began my life-long love affair with swimming. I went every chance I got. Even when my doctor advised my parents that swimming was bad for an asthmatic, I ignored that. I went on to swim for my high school team and play water polo in college.

In later life, where ever I was, I found a pool and started regulary to do my laps. Almost sixty years have passed since that day when I stood trembling on the diving board. I have have loved the water ever since.

Now I reflect back. By facing my fear, even when I was so young and vulnerable, I changed my life.

If I had managed to escape from that first swimming lesson, how different my life would have been.

So I believe that there are times in life when we must swallow hard and go do it even though we are afraid. We must push the fear aside.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote :”The thing that you fear is the thing that you must do.”