Improvised Swimming Lessons

Here’s a short little piece that I wrote up based off of a prompt for my creative writing class. I think it serves a fun bit of biography and a nice starting post.

Improvised Swimming Lessons

Austin R Ryan

            Like most, the majority of my childhood memories elude me, but one still sticks loyally by to this day. After four years of life, when my own urban environment still seemed wonderfully exotic, my family took me and adventured off to Hawaii for a short vacation. I remember some visuals of Hawaii’s great vistas, volcanoes and beaches that extended so far, along with water that ran miles beyond the grasp of my eye. I recall hang-gliding with one of my sisters and flying above the surface of the ocean. The splendor still sticks with me, revisited through the lens of a child, a lens that made everything seem giant and fascinating. More than anything I recall vividly the time I learned how to tread water through trial by fire. I floated about one of those small but deep pools in the back of Hawaii condos that seemed to have impossibly clear waters that reflected even the dark nights so perfectly. . I pitter pattered off to have an unsupervised swim, feeling very secured by the yellow floaty I held to my waist. One moment I was splashing around above water, the next moment the clear liquid engulfed me, powering its way into my nostrils. My eyes flushed open to feel the chlorine grate against my pupils. I felt suspended and overwhelmed by the absolute awe inspired this weightless new world. Yet even at that age I could feel how odd it was to be breathless, how having the absence of something I could not live without inspired such a fear within me. I opened my mouth slightly to try and see if I could get air back like I did when I tried to hold my breath, but the nasty taste of chlorine cleaned water flushed in instead. I remember looking up and seeing the dark underside of my yellow floaty and some bits of the world I once came from that looked distorted an unreal when they shook about in my watery lens. I flailed up toward the dark object with every ounce of coordination my tiny arms and legs could muster. My vision shook with my spastic movements. I propelled myself roughly through the water until I could seize the floaty with both of my arms and pull myself up. My mouth grabbed greedily at the air between every cough and I only took the time to blink long after I gazed up at my hands clasping the plastic floaty. The water now sat firmly beneath me, still surrounding my legs as though it could snatch me up. Now I knew that if the water came back for me, I could kick and punch at it until I fought back to the safety of the yellow floaty and after a few rough breaths I breathed a bit easier from that point on.


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