There are some things that happen in the world that rarely anybody dislikes. For instance, rainbows – I doubt you’ve ever met anyone disgusted or horrified by the phenomenon.
The same goes for water. As humans, we can sit for hours staring into a body of water, fascinated by its movement and calmness. Sure, it’s the tasteless, odorless, and colorless liquid that keeps us alive and healthy… but it’s more than that.
What I’ve Learned From Kids
As kids, we sit for hours in the water splashing around in enjoyment. I recall last summer when I lifeguarded at the city pool. I had one hour of my shift remaining. Everyone had already cleared out of the water, preparing to go home. But I noticed a little boy sitting on the stairs with a few toys staring at the ripples of the water.
Sitting in my lifeguard chair, I was fascinated by his interest in the water. I could’ve sworn he’d been sitting in the same spot for the past hour.
Watching this little boy’s innate fascination of the water made me realize something. No matter who we are, or what age, there is something about the water that mesmerizes and calms our mind. Like a deep trance, it even brings the most restless people (like me) to calm down, sit still, and stare at the waves.
Why We LOVE to Swim
As a swim instructor, I have observed and learned a lot about why exactly humans love to swim so much.
Humans are not designed to swim. We lack webbed feet, gills, or the ability to stay afloat without rest in the water. And yet, one of the most popular recreational activities is going out to ashore and swimming for hours.
As a swim instructor, I will always remember two twin girls I taught for quite some time. They first came to me afraid to even put a toe into the water and wouldn’t dare to jump in. At first, our classes involved lots of toys and reassuring lectures about how there are no sharks in pools!
Soon enough, they began to come into the water with me, allowing me to hold them afloat. Flash-forward a few months and they can now swim a few yards all on their own straight into my arms. The sweetest thing was their never-ending excitement about everything they did.
“Coach look! My scoops are getting so big!”
“Coach! Look at my side strokes!”
Their excitement made me realize why swimming is such a rewarding experience.
The ability to swim doesn’t come easily. Having full control and confidence in the water is a learned skill that can only be gained over time with practice.
Swimming pushes us beyond the limitations of our body’s natural design. It shows us that humans aren’t stuck to bipedalism. While walking and running come to us naturally, swimming shows us what we are capable of.
As a swim instructor, watching the joy on students’ faces when they finally learn to swim on their own is unmatched by any other sport.
We may not be built like frogs and fish, but our connection and pull to the water is undeniable. Next time you venture out to the lake or beach notice how the kids sit in the water for hours, how calming it is to look into the waves, and how the water brings out our inner “Moana”, pulling us in.
We tend to start overthinking the sport as we grow older, blinded by time trials and competition. Take time to notice the wonder and amazement in kids’ eyes as they gaze at the water or take their first, bold strokes. That wonder is not gone for us, we just need to try and let go of whatever makes us forget it exists.
Being in the water is an amazing gift and experience, why not enjoy it?