My first swimming lesson at age 52!

You are never too old to learn, so goes the saying. Well on 27-01-2016, at the age of 52 years and 7 months, I took my first swimming lesson! What an experience it was. Let me say right away that I think, I might need like 3689 lessons to be able to get my A swimming diploma. (The A diploma is the first certificate a child gets in Holland after passing a swimming exam at the end of their first series of swimming lessons. Usually a child of 5 takes about half a year to a year to get his A certificate. If my first swimming lesson is a reflection of how the rest of my swimming career will go, then I will still be learning when I am 124 years old!)

Having been on the waiting list for 3 months, I was surprised when the call came that I could begin at the end of January 2016. Towel and pants packed I was as determined as could be. Once I finished the process of registration I was ready to swim!

The swimming instructor took one look at me and said “looking at the way you are built, it is going to be difficult for you to float!” That was a very encouraging way to begin! In her defence she was just being honest and I love people like that. It turns out she is a really nice lady too. She was just talking from her years of experience.

The idea to finally learn how to swim first came to me after being confronted and kidnapped on high seas in Nigeria in May 2014. Faced with heavily armed, menacingly looking idiots with AK 47s, I felt like a sitting duck. We were lucky we were at mooring for a pause when this happened and there were witnesses. But I was thinking what would have happened if we were in the middle of nowhere and the only option was to swim or drown. I would not have wanted my life’s journey to have ended that way. The video below was shot by me on that same river hours before those Kalashnikovs wielding criminals changed our lives forever. I leaned to bike at the age of 27 so I can start learning to swim at 52+.

Also by starting a swimming lesson at my age, I hope to inspire lots of Africans in Holland and elsewhere to do the same. It is not a big secret that many of us have never learned to swim. It is not uncommon in the summer to see the whole family having fun while the African dad or mum is sitting by as a spectator. It is never too late to learn. If I can do it, you guys can too. Come on, let’s have fun!

Swimming Ridderkerk

Back to my first lesson; how humans ever learnt to float and swim will remain a mystery to me. Try as I did, I could not pull it off during this first lesson. Okay that was a bit of an exaggeration. When on my back I was sinking like a pile of concrete, so much so that the lady instructor had much fun at my expense. On my belly I was able to pull it off after a couple of tries and felt really proud of myself. The lesson was supposed to be just for 30 minutes but we stayed in the water for a full hour practising how to float! However the overall feeling I got is that this is going to be one long and expensive journey ahead. But I kept on practising floating on my back. Practise makes perfect after all.

This being my first time, I did not know what to expect so I did not make any videos or take any shots of me in the water. But next time, I promise to make a short video of my battle against the water elements. Maybe I could bring a smile to your faces and you all can laugh at my expense too. But swim I will. Bring it on!

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