The Ocean: My Enemy, My Friend!

by Maricel

“Faith allows impossible things to happen.”

Swimming is a life skill. More than the convenience one gets in knowing it, is the fact that it is a basic life- saving necessity that should be addressed appropriately and accordingly.

Since I was young, I knew I’ll grow up a lover of the ocean. I loved it ever since but sadly, I’ve never learnt to face it, once submerged.

My father was once a fisherman, so swimming for him is no pain in the butt. He knew how to deal with the waters, its creatures and its often unpredictable characteristics. He even experienced several typhoons while fishing in the middle of the ocean and survived it all… How he once was carried away by the raging waves off to the town of Carcar about 20 miles from our place after a storm wrecked its fishing boat and still managed to get home. How he can last under water for several minutes, blah blah blah…

Ironically, all of his children- my Kuya, Jumar and I never learnt how to tame ourselves when faced with our incredibly beautiful and terrifying enemy. In fact, there were times when I almost drowned while swimming only to find out later that the culprit was a sand hole which happen to be a few inches deeper than the spot where I previously stepped on. Hilarious! That is why I envy the swimmers and those whose finesse in swimming is beyond par. I dreamed of the day when I could independently swam to the bottom of the ocean without having to fear the possibility of being attacked or get eaten by the great white shark. I dreamed of having to swim side by side with a butanding or with a dugong one day. And I am committed to make that dream a reality.

For several Sundays already, I’ve visited the territory of my enemy, not to wage war against it, but to befriend it. I have to know how to swim, sooner. That is why even without professional help or anybody’s help for that matter, I am doing what I can to learn the skill on my own, as best and as fast as I could.

Learning swimming, especially if you don’t have anybody to teach you the right skill is hard, not to mention dangerous.

Most people say that it is best to learn the basics first in the swimming pool where you’ll get the focus you’ll need to learn the craft and where the elements are limited. But personally, if my goal is to enjoy the ocean for the beauty that it is, might as well that as early as now, I brush shoulders with these elements. It actually adds excitement to the experience and maybe additional swimming skill too in the long run.

In my twenty something years of existence, I only knew how to keep afloat. So at least, I needn’t start from scratch. However, since my goal is to become a skilled- swimmer, I still need to learn the other significant skills to survive the water. Until lately, I’ve surpassed my previous distance record for swimming freestyle. Yes, freestyle! And because of my excitement of having learned one stroke in swimming, I almost drowned. I forgot I was in the water.

Surprisingly, even with the little knowledge I had of swimming, I succeeded teaching my Sis-in-law how to keep herself afloat, even if to some it seemed impossible for her to succeed the task. At about 130 lbs., nobody in our company thought she would make it. Yet despite the mockery and bullying and the things they did to distract her concentration, Myra kept herself afloat! My little accomplishment. It felt so good. Extremely good.

Philippines being an archipelago wherein majority of the land area is surrounded by bodies of water, it is best to learn, if not master swimming. An alarming study conducted by the Swimming Association Inc., about 40, 000 Filipinos die of drowning yearly. In fact, it is the fourth cause of death for Filipinos after vehicular accidents, gunshot and stabbing. This data according to the chairman of SAI Mark Joseph, is very alarming. That is why he encouraged Filipinos especially for parents of young children to have their kids enrolled in swimming lessons as they most often became the victim of drowning, to learn this basic life skill.

Now, many may have asked why at this point in my life did I have the urge to materialize my dream of learning swimming… It’s because of him.

At an innocent age of four, Xian continuously begged for any of us to learn swimming. Why? Blame it to the earthquakes. If you think I am kidding, seriously I AM NOT.

Maybe because of what he saw during the Great Japan Earthquake in March 2011, the little boy has become very anxious about the possibility that what happened to Japan might also happen to us, knowing how prevalent earthquakes are today. He is scared that when a major quake occurs, a tsunami would washed away our place and since no one except his Lolo (Grandpa) knew how to swim, we would all die of drowning. That’s quite an anxiety to bear for my young nephew. That is why, to lessen his worries I commit myself to learn swimming. Thus, I’m giving myself two more swimming sessions to complete the task in preparation for my bigger responsibility as the superhero to save my young nephew’s life and the one to kill his anxiety eventually.

With many more skills to learn, more practices to endure (just in case I won’t hit my goal) and surely more water to take in and out, my faith allows me to continue what I’ve started, what I’ve aspired to carry out. Because I have a responsibility to take care of and a vow to keep– to myself and to the innocent one who looks up to me as the superhero he’s been waiting to save his little world.

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