A few months ago my swim cap ripped, so I had to get another one. What’s the big deal right?
(Other than the obvious) The store only had 1, and it was the one color I swore I’d never wear on my head ever again. I seriously considered not getting it but given that it was at the end of swim season & it was half the price that I was used to paying I pulled it off the rack and paid for it.
“It’ll turn brown in a few weeks anyway, just enough time to find another one.”
You see I have an emotional history with swim caps. They were used at a summer camp I went to as a kid to indicate a level of skill, as well as what you could and couldn’t do during coveted free swim periods.
I was a “white cap swimmer” for all but one summer, 1 summer I was the color below the white caps.
A white cap represents being stuck, not being able to make any progress.
A white cap is failure in the form of latex (or whatever they’re made out of these days).
The only saving grace to the whole thing is that any white cap I’ve ever had has turned brown in a matter of weeks so I wouldn’t be wearing failure on my head for very long, or so I thought.
A few weeks later a happened to meet people from Adaptive Sports New England and talked swimming, basically did they have any tips for gaining better access to my current pool or any others.
It turns out I’m not the only one who has had trouble finding a lane to swim in, and safely. I’m still not sure if I feel comforted by this, knowing I’m not alone, or bothered, because it means more people than just the lifeguards aren’t doing their job.
I also mentioned that I’ve turned to Y0uTube for tips on better technique. Which I realized was a ridiculous statement; I didn’t realize just how ridiculous it was until the words came out of my mouth (and I’m pretty sure at least one person wanted to laugh in my face).
They suggested I get in contact with the head of an adaptive sports program that could put me in touch with a swim coach. Now I’ve had similar things like this happen to me before and none of them have ever worked out, so although I was excited I was pessimistic.
I went home and send an email, just to be able to say I gave it a shot.
I talked to the head of the sports program then traded emails with the swim coach, again waiting for something to fall though.
Suddenly I had committed to attending the first practice of the year. I say “suddenly” but really I’d been waiting for an opportunity like this for decades. And I was indeed still waiting for something to make this not happen, because after decades why would this happen now?
And there was one big mental barrier I had to deal with; I still had that white cap, because it hadn’t turned brown.
I practically ran to the store hoping to find another cap, any cap that wasn’t white. I couldn’t bring myself to go to a swim practice, even one that was billed as “nice and easy,” wearing a white cap. If this was going to turn into anything at all it was going to be all about progress, not allowing myself to be held back by unpleasant memories.
And lest we forget that if I got in the water and failed while wearing a white cap I would’ve blamed the cap, regardless of my abilities.
I needed to get the white cap off my head, for good, and bought 2 new caps, just in case.
But as the day approached I rethought my “anti-white cap” stance; actually I rethought it about 375 times. In fact I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to wear until I put it on my head.
I climbed into a pool of real swimmers wearing a white cap and waited to be judged on my lack of ability, just as I had during those summers all those years before.
I faced my worst nightmare.
I’ve been attending team practices since the fall and I love it.
It isn’t what I expected. It hasn’t been easy. But what I’ve been able to accomplish in just a few weeks is pretty amazing, not perfect, but amazing none the less.
It turns out I’ve had more fears to face besides not being a total failure while wearing a cap of a certain color.
It’s all been done wearing the dreaded white cap, which has slowly turned a suspicious shade of orange.
I have no idea where any of this is going to lead because I don’t have any feasible long term goals at this point. Frankly I think I’m still waiting for someone to tell me to get out of the pool because I’m not supposed to be there.