Hitting is like swimming. Once you learn the stroke, you never forget it.
Stan (The Man) Musial, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame 1969
A baseball quote, because Baseball Hall of Fame induction weekend is closing in, but the topic is swimming.
I hadn’t gone swimming in well over a year. Our local pool had been closed, and I’m rather loathe to be seen in a swim suit.
But during my travels, I swam multiple times.
I got in the first time because I was so hot. Leah and I took a kayaking tour around Lokrum Island. The guides had told us the temperature in Celsius which didn’t mean a whole lot to me.
But it was hot.
On our way around the island, we stopped at a cave. Leah was, I think, the first to hop in the water. Then other people from the group jumped in — so, finally, I joined them. It was so refreshing. Refreshingly cold.
That was swim number one.
A few days later, we walked down a gazillion steps to a little swim area we had noticed on our way to and from the Airbnb.
We got there early. A young woman was doing yoga on the pier while a handful of people were already in the water. Of course, Leah ventured in first. I followed.
Even at 8 AM, Dubrovnik was hot, so the water felt good — cold and refreshing. I swam to the far post, to the mouth of a cave, and back to the post. I hadn’t forgotten how to swim, despite my hiatus.
Swim number three took place during a tour from Mostar. We spent a few hours at a place called Kravice Falls.
Our tour group consisted of Leah, a family of four from Sweden, a young woman who was a recent college graduate, and me.
The two girls from the Swedish family immediately headed for the water. The rest of us sat at a table and ordered some lunch. The girls called and waved to their parents from the water.
“The younger one just learned to swim on this trip,” said the mother.
Subconsciously, I scanned the swim area for lifeguards. Nada.
“A week or so ago, she just decided she would swim,” the mother continued.
There were ropes out in the swim area, but no clear designations what they were all about. People just seemed to swim wherever they wanted.
“There are no lifeguards here,” I said. “Does that make you nervous?”
I asked because it was making me nervous.
“No,” said the mom, “they’ll be fine.”
I realized that Americans are far more safety conscious than the rest of the world.
And that someone who has been a lifeguard/swim instructor/swim coach can’t turn off that part of her brain.
I swam at Kravice Falls with the young woman who was part of our group. We got in the middle of the swim area on our way to the falls, and she said, “I’m feeling really panicky. I don’t think I can make it.”
We stopped and treaded water for a while. Right there, in the middle, we paused and talked. I told her that I was a swim coach. I asked her about her life. I watched the anxiety dissolve before we continued to the falls where we sat on a rock together and let the water beat down on our backs.
My fourth swim was at a lake in Bosnia.
One of the men from Gradacac had made arrangements for us to visit a scuba club. At a lake. In Bosnia.
We didn’t scuba, but we did go out on a boat tour of the lake.
Our sweet translator, Amina, didn’t know how to swim, so she put on a life jacket. And clutched Nicole’s leg.
I reminded her to breathe. And took lousy pictures of her.
After the boat ride, I swam out in the lake. It was cool (not cold, like the Adriatic) and refreshing.
Swimming again gave me great satisfaction.
I hadn’t forgotten how.
I still loved it.
Now that the pool has reopened, I need to get back.