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For a young child, learning how to swim can be scary and overwhelming at the

same time. Having someone there to guide you can make it much easier. It took

me a lot of courage and persistence to get comfortable with the water but when

I finally got the hang of it, I fell in love with the water and it was hard to

get me out of it.

I was two years old when my mom left my two older sisters, my brother and I in

Nicaragua with my father to come to California. She left to establish something

for us so we could have a better life because our country was in civil war at

the time. My mom started her own housekeeping business cleaning upper class

homes where she made really good money in those days. She was able to save and

send us money at the same time. When my mother had all the money she needed,

she was able to bring my dad, my siblings and I to the United States. A year

later, my parents got hired at an apartment complex in Claremont where my

mother cleaned the apartments and my father painted them to get them move in

ready. My siblings and I had access to a pool which was great because back at

home we did not have one and I wanted to learn how to swim. Before we were

allowed to get in, my parents would put each of my siblings in change to help

clean a section of the apartment. I was always in charge of taking the plated

off of the outlets, wash and dry them and screw them back on. My parents would

take us with them over the weekends so they could teach us how to work for our

money. We were just kids though and we only cooperated because we wanted to

swim. When we were finally done they would allow us to spend the rest of the

day at the pool where I learned how to swim.

When my parents first started letting me get in the pool, they would only allow

me to be on the steps with my floaties around my arms. I felt dumb and

embarrassed because most of the children my age at the pool were already

swimming at the eight feet with no floatation devices. I was stuck at the

stairs where the babies were being carried by their mothers. I wanted to swim

in the deep end like the rest of the kids. I remember walking up to my second

oldest sister Pal and asking her “sis can you please teach me how to swim? I

don’t want to wear my floaties anymore!” Pal was always the one I went to when

I wanted to learn something and every time I asked her she would teach me with

no problem. She then asked me with one eyebrow up “are you sure you’re ready to

learn how to swim?” I was not sure what she meant by that with that look in her

face but I answered her yes. At that very moment she took my floaties off and

threw them to the side, grabbed me and threw me in the eight feet like nothing.

I remember struggling in keeping my head above water and swallowing the water

at the same time. I began screaming for help and all I could hear is my sister

Pal laughing her butt off and my parents yelling at my sister to help me. All

the response I got from my sister was her saying to me “peddle your hand and

feet faster!” She obviously did not comprehend that I barely knew how to

peddle. When she finally realized that I was drowning she jumped in to get me.

Crying hysterically I asked my sister Pal “why did you throw me in the deep end

like that I could have drowned!” She answered “if you want to learn how to swim

you have learn how to keep your head above the water.” I am not sure why my

sister chose that method to teach me how to swim not grasping that it was

dangerous but I had no choice but to trust her if I wanted to how to swim. As

weekends went by my siblings and I going to help our parents, my sister Pal

continued to teach me how to swim by throwing me in the deep. My sister’s harsh

way of teaching me how to swim finally paid off. I was the one throwing myself

in the eight feet, swimming all the way to the bottom touching it and

swimming all the way back up and holding myself up. I was swimming like a fish

in the sea. From then on, I started to make friends around my age and played

Marco Polo with them. We also raced each other to see who would make it to the

other side of the pool first or we would throw either a coin or rock in the

pool and see who would get it the fastest once it reached the bottom. It felt

great finally knowing how to swim and getting the chance to interact with kids

my age at the same time.

The way I learned how to swim was probably not how most would learn or even the best

way to learn but it sure did teach me pretty fast. Even though I look back and think to

myself as an adult that I would probably would never teach a six-year in that way, but I

still thanked my sister for taking the time to teach me how to swim. I love to swim even

more now than I did then. I love summer because I get to go to the beach often, catch

some waves and swim most of the day. If anyone knows me, they would know to invite

me if they were going to a pool, beach or river. What can I say, I’m just a fish in the sea.