This program has been one of the most profound experiences of my life.
My fear of water, fossilized with sixty years, was my deepest, most intense fear and my deepest shame. I carried this fear in my body and soul, in every cell, though I did my best to avoid all circumstances where the fear could surface. Any proximity to a swimming pool would cause a physical reaction of alarm, chills and nausea. I am not one for hyperbole, but Miracle Swimming is exactly that – a miracle – a revolutionary approach to learning to swim using a groundbreaking system of how people learn.
As an educator, it has caused me to rethink all my beliefs about teaching. In one week, I went from terror on entering a pool to propelling in water. Me – Swimming. I thought those two words would never co-exist in the same sentence. Not in this lifetime.
This amazing program could not succeed without the superhuman capacity of its teachers, both in professional skills and in the enormity of empathy and heart. Chris is an instructor beyond my wildest imagination. Not only is he an enormously kind, patient, and loving human, he also understood each student and met each exactly on the appropriate level.
For me, the most critical issue was trust, trust in both the water and the teacher. I had to believe the teacher would be right there for me, physically in the pool and emotionally, understanding how tough it is to confront one’s fear. Chris was absolutely there on both levels. He celebrated each baby step with me. He made perfect suggestions and seemed to intuit exactly what the next step might be, while still giving me total freedom and choice.
Chris also showed a wonderful capacity for introducing fun into the pool and into our discussions. The discussions he led were useful. Chris answered every question with patience and thoughtfulness. Many questions surfaced multiple times – a manifestation of fear and insecurity – but he never showed the slightest iota of irritation. He seemed totally contented to be where he was, teaching each of us to enjoy the experience of water. Chris also seemed to have several pairs of eyes, not only an awareness of each student’s physical location in the pool, but also a sense of when to become available to each of us for support and guidance.
All these words don’t even begin to relate the enormity of my experience, which I think will take some time for me to fully integrate. For now, I can only extend my deep gratitude to (those who) contributed so graciously and joyously toward my rare and beautiful week....