By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lesson seven: Kick, hands, kick, hands
Our novice swimmer goes the distance
Placeholder Image

Jumping right in

Times summer intern Audrey Williams never learned how to swim. She’s one of many adults who lack that skill, but thanks to some classes with the Red Cross this week and next, she’s learning how and sharing that experience in daily columns on and occasional columns in The Times.

Day 1
Day 2 
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6


Wednesday marked my second-to-last adult swim lesson at Frances Meadows Aquatic Center. It also marked my first time swimming across the pool, a full 25 yards, from the three-foot side of the pool to the six-foot side.

I started the day’s lesson shakily trying to put together the separate arm movement and kick of the breaststroke, with my instructor Max Sumner guiding me along.

“I want you to move your hands and your legs at the same time,” he said. “Kick, hands, kick, hands, kick, hands.”

Keeping my legs controlled under water was where I was failing at the breaststroke. The exact motion for it, Sumner instructed, was to tuck my legs in, kick them out and bring them back together.

My classmate Cornelia Martin called it the frog kick and had already mastered it her last session. For me it would turn into wild splashing.

I had made so much progress in the past week that not getting this seemingly simple kick put a damper on my mood.

“You have to push the water out of your way,” Miss Cornelia said. “Beat the water.”

Her advice coupled with Sumner’s constant reminder to “relax” and “just feel yourself move through the water,” helped me to try again.

The first few kicks were miserable, but eventually, it began to feel right. I was moving further down the pool.

“Don’t think about it,” Sumner said. “Move faster.”

I moved as fast as I could, which wasn’t very fast at all, until I touched the wall of the six-foot end of the pool.

“There you go,” Sumner said. “You just made it across.”

I floated for a while at the deepest end of the pool to get a feel for it. My feet couldn’t touch the bottom, and while that would have given me a panic attack a week ago, I was comfortable.

“When you get comfortable in the water,” Miss Cornelia said, “you can do anything. You can finally enjoy being here.”

Floating and talking with her, I realized she was right. I just wish I hadn’t waited until the end to figure it out.

Regional events