Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Swim--or sink?

…HA once heard a famous starlet talk about partying on a yacht off Manhattan, something happened, and the thing sank.

…Many of the people from New York could not swim and drowned.

…She said, “Luckily, I had learned to swim.” Very luckily! Or maybe her Mom insisted.

…HA is from the Mid-West, where swimming lessons are almost a principle of faith.

…Swimming is at least as valuable a skill as recharging a cellphone.

…According to an AP story by Justin Pope, most colleges are now abandoning the swimming test as a requirement for graduation.

…The University of North Carolina was one of the last to toss the kids in the pool.

…In the past, Pope writes, swimming was considered a good safety skill—but also a good social skill, allowing one, presumably, to loll about at country clubs or get lifeguard jobs allowing for upward mobility and good networking.

…Now the military academies almost stand alone in pushing the waterborne option. At the Naval Academy you have to swim 40 minutes to pass.

…(HA remembers a 10-minute Junior Lifeguard test swim that almost put her in a cast.)

…At West Point, cadets are strapped with heavy packs and must struggle through tasks in the pool amid artificial rain, deafening noise, and waves kicked up by a machine.

…Now that’s a swimming test.

…At very least, let’s hope tomorrow’s leaders and movie stars learn the crawl so they can fall off yachts and live to tell about it.

1 comment:

Star said...

Why is it so hard to sign up to comment? I hear this all the time!

A reader asked me to post this...

Hey just catching up on your blog about swimming.

It really hit home. My swimming coach in collidge was a fanatic. His son was a competitive swimmer, but when he was capsized a mere mile off shore, he panicked and could not swim to shore. Drowned.

The coach devised an incredible "drown proofing" program you had to pass to graduate. When I took it, passing with flying colors, he was spending his entire hour getting a freaked out girl just to dog paddle once across the short end of the pool. The rest of us were paddling down, arms and hands tied, to retrieve snorkels or masks with our teeth from the bottom of an 11-foot pool.

He and others taught all kinds of survival techniques. His first demonstration was to get a good swimmer and buxom young thing to float, demonstrating exactly where her nose sat in the water, then a lithe young guy, whose nose was a couple of inches below water level. Saying, in a drowning situation, stay calm and the one with the most body fat wins.

It was a really cool class.