How I Learned to Swim & Bike In Just 2 Weeks

Friday, April 14, 2017


For most of my life, I didn't know to swim and bike. I know these are life skills, I just didn't have a chance to learn them when I was younger. Our family seldom go out-of-town or to our provinces so I had minimal exposure to the beaches and the waters. As for biking, our parents didn't let us ride a bike because one of my siblings broke his arm because of a bike accident.

My perspective changed, especially this year. Opportunities came and challenged me to learn these life skills. With these type of skills, once you learn, you will never unlearn it. I'ts much like driving I guess, which involves muscle memories to acquire that skill.

Swimming
When we tell our foreigner colleagues that we didn't know how to swim, they always showed an amazed expression. They couldn't believe that we cannot swim given that we lived in a country surrounded mostly by water. I understand where they are coming from, but that's how things are for Filipinos, especially those who live in the city. For the past 2 years, I had those wonderful opportunities to go out of town with my colleagues. They were the adventurous type so we always had water activities (like swimming and snorkeling) lined up in our itinerary.

My first plunge into the water was in Cagayan de Oro in 2015 (I'll blog about it soon!) when our team did white-water rafting, which is an extreme water sport, I know. We also did canyoneering in Cebu. Just imagine the pressure I've felt doing these activities because I didn't know how to swim.

I told myself - if I would continue tagging along with my colleagues, I'll have to learn how to swim, to make things easier for me. So in the summer of 2016, I enrolled at Bert Lozada Swimming School!


Yes, I now have power in the water! ;D
The location for their swimming lessons is just near our office so it was perfect. I enrolled myself in their adult beginner class. I was so happy they have this type of class. I was always worried that I would be learning to swim alongside kids. I'd feel embarrassed if that was the set up. In that class, I was with students of my age (there were even older than me) and all of us were scared and conscious during our first few classes, but I really felt the change of mood during the last sessions - we really got confident in the water after the lessons!

Some of the requirements for the lessons are:
  • floater
  • goggles
  • swimming cap

The lessons lasted for 10 days (2 weeks), with an hour a day of lessons. The instructors told us that we would learn quicker if we swim everyday. I went to my lessons after office hours. I though I would be tired after the lessons, but surprisingly it's the opposite. I felt refreshed after every lesson.

During the first 10 minutes of each lesson, we paddled back and forth the swimming lane, holding onto our floaters. This is to first make ourselves comfortable with the water. It was tiring but it was an effective way of removing our fear of the water. During my first tries, I always felt anxious while swimming. I'd always think that I was going to die and drown any moment. After a while. my body reaction changed. I was calmer in the water. I even daydreamed while I did my paddling!

After the paddling exercise, that's when we were taught of the different swimming styles. Here are some of my notes from our lessons:

Day 1
- Bubbles
- 'ready position' - raise hands, right over left, one foot on the wall OR one foot forward
- floating positions:
     X position
     knee hug
     paddle kick - bubbles get air, paddle again
Day 2
     paddle kick - 10 laps
     paddle hands - circular motion in front, but not appearing on water surface
     back float - hands relaxed on the side, legs kicking but not appearing on surface of water
     back and roll? - 6 seconds paddle with hands moving to side, then flip right, back float, flip left, paddle again with hands on side
Day 3
paddle kick - 10 laps
survival swim: 6 secs paddle hands, flip over, 6 secs back float paddle, repeat
Day 4
freestyle: full circular motion of hand - always start withleft
superman: left hand upward: 6 secs paddle, blow, flip over, 6 secs back paddle still with hand upward and relax, head up, remember to kick!
Day 5
Superman
Separation Drill
freestyle: full circular motion of hand - always start withleft
put right hand down as you flip over, paddle for 6 secs,
get air, raise left hand, move back to head as you flip over
Day 6
Separation drill
Day 7
Separation drill
Day 8
10 laps separation drill
advance free style: ready position (but no linked arms, just raise hands up)
left hand first - circle motion, bubbles, right hand, twist. slightly tot the right, get air
repeat
Day 9-10
advance free style: ready position (but no linked arms, just raise hands up)
left hand first - circle motion, bubbles, right hand, twist. slightly tot the right, get air
repeat

I am proud to say that I have already used my swimming skills to my advantage. I am now not intimidated of swimming pools. I can now swim to different parts, unlike before when I was always stuck clinging to the sides of the pool. Also, I am more confident doing snorkeling. During my trip to Coron, I didn't wear a life jacket anymore when we did snorkeling. I learned that as long as I am wearing my snorkeling mask, I am confident in the water. :D The only downside is that I still don't know how to thread in the water. This was not taught during the swimming lessons. Our instructors said that this skill is being taught in their more advanced lessons.


Biking
Learning how to bike was one of my lifelong frustrations. My parents didn't let us go on a bike because of what happened to my brother. I had chances to ride a sidecar but of course it's not the same with riding a bike. I remember I tried learning to ride a bike a few times in the past but I always get scared of making both my feet step on the pedals, so I was not able to learn. Then last year, my colleagues encouraged me to try again, and even offered to teach me how to bike. Of course I wanted to! My boss lent me her folding bike. I took it home, planning to ride around within our village during the weekends. I arranged a biking session for us in Filinvest the next weekend.

The weekend before that session, I asked one of my college batchmate (who also didn't know how to bike 😂) to tag along with me to Quezon Memorial Circle. That's where I did my first attempt to learn. Unfortunately I was still not successful. There were lots of people biking the area and I couldn't really focus on balancing, worried that I might collide with the other bikers. Frustrated, I got up early morning the next day (it was a Sunday) and brought the folding bike outside. I told myself I need to learn how to bike this time! I didn't want to learn from scratch. I wanted to come prepared for our upcoming biking session.

I've already crossed several streets in our village and i still couldn't balance on the bike. I was repeatedly paddling and stopping abruptly, and I repeated this cycle several times. Finally, I reached that moment when I just pedaled fast - one foot after another - and then I realized that I could balance easier this way! It's easier to balance when I am moving fast! And that's how I got the hang of it. I was able to cross the whole stretch of our street without stopping.

I won't forget the feeling during those moments. I felt infinite. It was wonderful, I felt like flying! I always had dreams wherein I was biking, and now those dreams have become reality.

Our biking session came, and I was proud to show them that I already know how to bike! I just had to practice there how to turn left/right. The feeling was exhilarating. I loved the soft wind that rustled on my face when I biked. Little did I know that I was beginning to feel obsessed with biking. 

Fast forward to several months, I bought my own bike, a Trinx M116 mountain bike, at a bike store near home. Every weekend morning, I bike around our village, just absorbing the peacefulness of the day. This now has become my main form of exercise, especially now that I can't jog or climb mountains anymore.

I am proud of learning these two life skills in just two weeks! (two weekends of biking and 10 weekdays of swimming). If you've been yearning to learn a skill, just go ahead and do your first step in achieving it! Remember, it's never too late to learn something new! :D

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