It’s Never Too Late to Learn How to Swim

“It’s Never Too Late” is a brand new collection that tells the tales of people that resolve to pursue their goals on their very own phrases.

Vijaya Srivastava’s first 68 years had been resolutely land-based. She walked the Berkeley Hills within the San Francisco Bay Area, hung out along with her younger grandchildren, volunteered on the library. None of this required submersion in water, which suited her high-quality, what with water being terrifying. Fear of drowning was an enormous challenge.

Growing up in India, she by no means had entry to swimming swimming pools. By the time she moved to the United States, the thought of backstroking to and fro merely didn’t happen to her. Then at some point her doctor talked about that common laps would enhance her well being.

“I can’t swim,” Ms. Srivastava, now 72, confessed. She’d by no means even put her face underwater.

“Have you heard of lessons?” the doctor requested.

“At my age?”

“Why not?”

What adopted may need been a protracted interval of pondering that query. That’s not what occurred. (The following interview has been edited and condensed.)

Q: What have been your first steps?

A: The very first thing I did was ask a neighbor if she needed to take classes collectively. We employed a highschool child, from Albany High. She had lifeguard coaching — I preferred that.

“Have you ever trained a senior?” we requested. She mentioned no. OK.

We began classes three days every week.

Once I made a decision to study, that was it. I went to the pool on the times between classes. I began to dream about swimming. I’d get up excited. When I couldn’t get to sleep, I might swim in mattress. My husband would say, “What’s going on? This isn’t a pool …”

I additionally purchased many bathing fits — I assumed certainly one of them is perhaps fortunate. Later I spotted you don’t want 10. I donated fairly just a few.

Did you do any analysis into swimming?

After my first lesson, I began to Google. At first I might simply watch something on YouTube had about how to swim. That bought complicated. Later my daughter informed me about Total Immersion Swimming videos. There’s a guy who gets into the physics of swimming — that helped me a lot.

Also my grandkids would go underwater and watch my breaststroke, or sit in the hot tub and give me thumbs up or thumbs down.

What were the biggest challenges?

Being petrified. Nothing had ever happened to me to make me scared. It was just knowing that I could drown. For the longest time I stayed in the shallow end, four feet. I prayed before every lesson.

And not having enough stamina. My arms and legs weren’t ready. After half an hour I was so tired.

Was there a moment when it all clicked?

After a few months, the instructor started telling me, “It’s time to go to the other end.” I kept saying, “I’m not ready.” She said, “You are.”

Finally I decided if I don’t try, it’s never going to happen. The instructor said she’d be next to me the whole time.

“But you’re so tiny!” I told her. She promised she wouldn’t let me drown.

So I started swimming. When I hit the six-feet marker — I’m 5 foot, 4 inches — I knew there was no turning around. Also, I didn’t know how to turn around.

Finally I made it to the other side. My neighbors from the condominium were over in the hot tub. They’d been watching me struggle for the last few months, and now they all stood up and clapped for me.

I didn’t wave back until I caught my breath and swam back to the shallow end. There’s no way I was taking my hand off the wall in the eight-foot end.

What would you have done differently when you started?

There’s not much I would do differently. Maybe start earlier.

How has your new pursuit changed your life?

When we talk about it — my nephews, my children — they sound so proud of me. Not too many people my age, or in my family, swim. It’s a good feeling that I’ve done this. I talk to my family back home in India. My brother can’t believe it.

What’s next?

I was talking to a friend about learning how to dance — maybe we could take dance lessons?

What would you tell people who feel stuck and want to make a change?

I found it good to have my neighbor swimming with me. We would motivate each other. If I was tired that day, she would say let’s just go for 20 minutes. Twenty minutes turns into half an hour.

Has your experience made you a different person?

Swimming a pool length for the first time at the age of 68 — that will always stay with me. Last Friday I swam 20 laps! It took me 52 minutes. I still take a break after laps. My next goal is to do it continuously, without taking a break. I’ll get there.

What do you wish you had known earlier about being fulfilled?

I have a very good friend who told me to know your body, know yourself — what makes you happy, healthy, angry. That always stayed with me. That helped me a lot.

But there’s not much in my life I would change. If you’re relaxed in your mind, and happy, that brings you health. You don’t need too many things in life.

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