Tuesday, June 21, 2005

my swim team

“How do you do that, kuya? Can you teach me how to do that?” A boy asked me when I reached the other end of the Olympic-size pool. I didn’t reply. I just smiled and thought of the most creative way to shoo him away so I could continue my laps. I haven’t swum in about a month. I deserve some peace and quiet while I wrestle with my favorite element.

Before I knew it, his other kiddie friends were already swarming around me, their shrill voices scratching off my eardrums.

“Yeah, kuya, that was great! How do you do that?”

“Teach me how to swim, too.”

“Me too!”

“Count me in!”

And so I became an instant swimming instructor. There was no point in dampening their enthusiasm. I couldn’t switch on my jerk mode to kids. I can’t bawl them out like I did to this idiotic French woman who shouted at me because she didn’t want her hair to get wet in the pool. I slapped cusswords on her face, both in English and in French. That snooty bitch! Just because I was in her country doesn’t mean that she had the right to order me around like she owned the fucking pool.

But that’s a different story. These kids didn’t mind getting their hair wet. And they didn’t mind having me as their swim coach.

Recalling my swim class days, I started out with correct breathing.

“Like this, manong, like this? Am I doing it right, manong?”

No, you’re doing it wrong, kid. Release the air through your nose.

“Oh yeah, like this, manong? I can do it now, manong.”

Yeah, whatever. Ok, moving on. Floating. Try to float face down, with your arms stretched in front of you, on the water.

“That’s so hard, manong. Let’s go to that arm movement thing now, manong. Come on, teach us that, manong.”

Ok, let me get this straight, pesky kid. You’ve got to learn how to keep your ass floating before you could do the strokes, do you understand? And please, stop calling me manong if you don’t want to end up puking and shitting chlorinated water by the time we’re done, is that clear?

Now, the feet. This is how you propel yourself through the water. Watch me do it.

“I can see kuya’s briefs! I can see his briefs underwater!”

That’s called trunks, dearie. And give me back my goggles before you see other unsightly apparitions down there.

Now, you kids practice what I taught you and then I’ll come back. I’ll just do a few more laps, is that all right?

“Yes, kuya!”

And I swam away from the excited younglings as fast as I could. When I returned, they were still at it, swimming away like wiggly ducks, except one chubby girl.

“Why aren’t you practicing what I taught you?” I asked.

“I’m tired. It’s just too difficult. What’s your name, kuya? I’m Jenny and that boy is so-and-so and that other boy is so-and-so and that girl is blah blah

Only her name stuck. Jenny.

“How did you learn to swim like that, kuya?” Jenny asked.

I took lessons when I was a kid like you, I replied.

I was actually enjoying hanging out with them! I usually don’t bring friends along whenever I go lap swimming because they always distract me, especially those whose idea of swimming is clinging onto the side tiles until moss grows over their fingers. We have a special thing going on, water and I. That’s where I become free and whole and one with my spirit. And I don’t want anybody to disrupt that.

But these kids were different. Perhaps it was their enthusiasm to learn that got me. I don’t know.

Since the pool would be closing in an hour, I told Jenny I had to do more laps and then swim back again to give them more swimming tips. When I reached the other end of the pool, I heard a man reprimanding his two sons for having talked to a stranger. Funny how two different worlds can exist on two sides of a pool.

I smiled. The scene was so ironically unnatural like a contrived plot. Clearly, it was not the side of the pool where I should be hanging out.

I swam back to the other side, where kids were free to take swimming lessons from strangers and where my swim team was struggling with their laps. I had yet to teach them the arm movement.



At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha! Ha! Ha! Kami din MANONG, turuan mo din kami ni Edong lumangoy sa pool....ibang sisiran, este languyan kasi ang alam namin e - from Mrs.'M'

At 10:36 AM, Blogger transience said...

aaaawww. i still hate kids, though. but really, good job!

At 10:57 AM, Blogger slim whale said...

mrs. M (M as in malibog),

pwede din magsisiran kayong dalawa underwater. mas exciting yun.


i get along well with kids but i hate infants

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

nice.. i love the water.

i float like a bobber.. i think it would be impossible for me to drown.

how can you hate infants? their like little worms. they don't do anything but eat, shit and sleep. what's to hate?

At 1:03 PM, Blogger slim whale said...

ms laughs,

that's exactly it! i'm scared of worms! i sprinkle rock salt on them every time i see one.

but i won't do that to infants, hehe. infants are too boring for me.


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