Dad would say that at appropriate times when reminding his young son about learning new things, whether it was riding a bike as a youngster or more challenging experiences later in life. “You ain’t gonna learn any younger” has echoed in my ears for years as comforting encouragement to experiment, explore and learn. Sometimes the wisdom stuck and some time it took longer to get to it. Like today.
I can swim now. 60 years and nine days into my life span, I swam. It wasn’t for lack of trying by my three sons over the years. They each tried to teach me. They, good teachers, had a challenged student. Something about each of them turning eight or nine seems to have inspired them to teach their dad to swim. Their last attempt was when the youngest was eight. Fifteen years ago. I learned to swim, but I never got the breathing part down.
That is hardly swimming when you can only kick and stroke until your lungs are about to burst and then hope there is something to cling to at the end of all breath.
I wanted to learn by the time I hit 60. I missed by nine days. But today, I swam five lengths freestyle and five on my back, which is definitely not the same as backstroke. It wasn’t real pretty. I know a little something about strokes, too, because all three of the boys began swimming while in diapers. Collectively, they have been on swim teams and water polo teams, and my middle son is a master SCUBA diver and is trained in fast water rescue. When I sent the boys a short video of me freestyling one length, and coasting on my back for the return trip, middle son said, “Hard to believe we come from those genes.” I had to laugh. The three water boys are excellent swimmers. The granddaughters are also getting into water familiarity early.
The “experts” say that learning to swim later in life is harder. I have to agree with that. I spend way too much time analyzing what I am doing right or wrong whereas kids just learn to make play of swimming and vice versa. Shoulders too high, turning at hips instead of neck, taking too long to inhale, head rocking back and causing shoulders to tighten which then…but today, I got the issues worked out enough to swim casually instead of frantically. Now that I know it is not a lost cause, I’ll return to get better at swimming and then to get in better condition. It won’t hurt to know how to swim for future fishing trips, either.
It is never too late to learn something, whether for simple pleasure or the principle of it, or any reason in between. You ain’t gonna learn in younger. Never give up learning, exploring or experimenting, even if you have to wait until there is hardly anyone else in the pool.