Yesterday I was coming home from swimming at my local pool when I saw a sign outside of a youth centre in our neigbourhood that said ‘Progression not Perfection’.
It struck me, at the time, as highly appropriate. I have been swimming regularly now for five years, having decided, not long after I turned 30, to learn to swim ‘properly’ (i.e. how to swim ‘freestyle’, or ‘front crawl’, as we used to call it, and not some made up version of breaststroke where my head stays out of the water and I just swirl my arms around my body until I move forward).
I joined a masters swimming group for a year and can honestly say that it was one of the most humbling and frustrating experiences of my life. I didn’t like the coach (sacrcastic t**t who treated everyone like a 5 year old), I freaked out about having to have my head under water, I hated swimming with other people, especially those that where a lot better than me (as about 99.99% of them were), and, just to add a really interesting psychological twist, my husbands ex-girlfriend, an ace swimmer, and all round kick-ass athlete, trained with the same group and had done for years, so she knew everyone (a fact I did not know until I was fully paid up and had been going there for a few weeks).
I learned how to swim, but could do no more than about 20 lengths of freestyle before I was red in the face and gasping for air. I had to force myself to practice the stroke, it felt so uncomfortable, and I would get so mad at myself for not being better.
Once I left the masters group and the regular coaching, I continued to swim twice a week when I could. I have just started swimming again after a couple of months break and realized this week that, somewhere along the line, I got better. I don’t know when it happened, and I haven’t really noticed the progression, I just go each week and swim as much as I can of freestyle before resorting to some other stroke or using a kickboard. But now I can swim over 2km straight doing freestyle and with absolutely no breathing issues. I even prefer to swim freestyle. Just sort of doggedly sticking at it, week in and week out, has paid off.
I can’t say that this would work in every situation, but it seems I am hearing more and more, that it is sometimes the only thing that matters in life, is just staying with something. And if Burlington Youth Centres think it’s true, who am I to argue?