I learned to swim at a very young age in my backyard above ground swimming pool. It was a 16×24 four foot deep pool that seemed as big as Lake Hartwell to me.
I remember my parents placing little floaties on my arms and I would climb the ladder onto the makeshift deck and jump for hours. My aunt would join me often and would start a “whirlpool” where we would all run as fast as we could in large circles around the edges of the pool flapping our arms like big butterflies pushing the water to travel in one direction. Once we had our current established I would then jump on a float and allow myself to be whorled around for what seemed forever before my little donut shaped float would come to a stop in the middle of the pool.
My parents would also take a beach trip every summer since I can remember to the Isle of Palms in Charleston South Carolina, where we stayed in a friend’s condo year after year.
The large in-ground pool there was my first experience with a diving board. This is where I was able to expand my swimming enjoyment with learning how to play shark and other adrenaline surging games of trying to expel yourself from one side of the pool to the other before the older and much faster bigger kids could catch you. This is what I feel taught me how to swim underwater. There was no room for trying to hold your nose or being scared of the water getting into your eyes because you would be caught for sure if you did not just go for it.
Learning to swim in the ocean was another ballgame. The sand and salt in the eyes took a little more getting used to however I loved it just the same. The beach we had assess to always created a large wading pool at low tide with a sand bar about 40 yards out from shore that contained as many sand dollars and conch shells you could harvest. My cousin and I would utilize our canvas float as a kick board and paddle out to that sand bar stacking our treasures like mad pirate hunters and dashing back to shore before the tide started to turn and change the current. I was probably 9 years old at most and my cousin 2 years younger than me, WHAT WERE MY PARENTS THINKING! My girls will never do something like that.
The smell of the chlorine in the pools, the salt air at the beach, and that lovely fragrance of Hawaiian Tropics sunscreen absolutely holds a special place in my heart. All I have to do is think about these things and I can smell them. I remember these things well from my childhood and they bring me great joy to think about them now.