I don’t know where Mary Beth lived, but for several weeks Barry and I rode our bicycles a few blocks, crossed a busy main street, and arrived at her house for swim lessons. I remember a large house and nice backyard with a built-in pool.
Momma explained that Mary Beth was on her school’s swim team and worked as a lifeguard sometimes. As I remember it, she had won races and had offered to teach us how to swim.
Our first lesson was to go under water. I already knew how to hold my nose and plunged under to show her how confident I was. To my dismay, she then instructed me to take a deep breath then blow it out through my nose as I put my head in the water. My first attempt resulted in sucking pool water into my nose. It burned, scared me, and made me cry. But she demonstrated the procedure and made me try again. Reluctant, but willing, I made bubbles come from my nose.
Mary Beth smiled. “Now practice in the bathtub. No more holding your nose.”
In subsequent lessons, we held onto the side of the pool with our arms straight and learned to kick. When we were strong enough, she had us put our faces under water and kick to the other side of the pool. Soon, we were racing from one end to the other. Barry always beat me, but Mary Beth said I was swimming fast for my age, which made me very proud.
I never had an opportunity to join a swim team but I’d win races against my friends, who would ask me where I learned how to swim like that. I my greatest pleasure, from Mary Beth’s instruction, came from teaching my three daughters how to swim./mdV