Today’s resolution: Swimming in memories

17 Jul

Cool water, clear all the way to the bottom, that was Lake Ouachita, one of our favorite places to swim when Sam was growing up.

During our first trips, Sam waded into the water hesitantly, stopping when the water lapped above her ankles. She wore a little life jacket for safety and peace of mind, hers and ours.

Together, we gradually ventured into waters where her feet didn’t touch bottom. One day, we made it all the way to the wood-plank raft floating about midway from the shore to the buoys that marked the swimming area. The water there was over our heads.

After paddling in such deep water, we were pretty darn proud when we reached the raft and pulled ourselves up to flop on our backs and catch our breath. I don’t know that I ever told her it was an accomplishment for me as well as her.

When she was about 4, she got this little boat. She felt confident enough by then to float in it without the life jacket (her father and I were always within reach).

Captain Sam (circa 1981)

As an adult, Sam has far surpassed me in swimming ability. I’m still a nervous, weak swimmer scared of putting my head underwater. She, however, volunteered for a job that required her to be surrounded by water. Deep, deep water. The deepest. She traded her little boat in for much bigger ones.

Sam joined the Navy and served for eight years. Naturally, sailors must be able to swim.

During boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center on Lake Michigan, Sam had to leap from a 10-foot tower into bone-chillingly cold water — during the middle of winter — fully clothed, then stay afloat long enough to be rescued.

She had to swim 50 yards in those icy waters, make flotation devices with her shirt and trousers, and float face down for 5 minutes before flipping over on her back.

I’m sure Navy boot camp made our swims at Lake Ouachita look like no big deal. But at the time, they were. Maybe overcoming some of her fear of the water back then made jumping off that tower at boot camp a little easier. I like to think so.

Sometimes Sam let me float the boat. (circa 1981)


One Response to “Today’s resolution: Swimming in memories”

  1. Cici Davidson July 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm #


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