Children splashing, elderly people gracefully doing breast-stroke, lifeguards yelling, show offs’ jumping in- that’s a typical swimming pool.
To me- it’s freedom. As I take my hearing aids out, all is silent, as if the world had stopped, but the action was still happening. I slide in the water; it sends a shiver up my spine. I brave it, duck underwater, and off I go.
Being underwater feels so peaceful, gliding along the bottom of the pool. It’s the only place I feel limitless. I don’t have to worry about all the stresses of being able to lip-read people, about what noises are going on, it’s all me. It’s my thinking place, where I contemplate about my life; debating about everything from work to my personal life, and my future.
When I was a toddler, I hated water, absolutely despised it! If my parents gave me a bath, I had to wear a waterproof cap, and if one drop got in my eyes- that was it! As you can imagine, my parents dreaded my first swimming lesson! They paid for me to have one-to-one tuition and the teacher I was meant to have was on maternity leave. This lady; J came along and replaced her. When my mum told her that I was deaf, she couldn’t see any problem and she stuck by me through it all. To me; there’s two types of people in the world when it comes to disability- those who instantly see it as a barrier to everything I do, and those who see straight past it, like it’s nothing. She was one of them- she just did her job, and I can’t say how much I really appreciate it.
I don’t remember it at all, but apparently I cried a lot during my first lesson. I was so afraid to put my face in the water, but J was amazing, she taught me how to swim. She’s been such an inspiration in my life, and everytime I enter the pool, I’m always thankful to her that I can swim this well. She has motivated me to help others, and I would love to help teach deaf children how to swim, because like me; they are capable of achieving anything, given the right support.
I used to swim competitively when I was younger, and by God I miss it. Quitting it was like letting a huge part of my life drift away. It wasn’t my choice; it was my swimming clubs’, because I wasn’t attending four times a week to keep to the standard as everyone else. Three times a week obviously wasn’t good enough for them- but I had to go to school? I do regret that decision, but was it for the best? Would I have achieved those A*s and A grades at school? Would I have these jobs? That’s a question that’ll never be answered.
Training was hard, it was gruelling. Despite being pushed to your limits; being told you’re not quick enough- to do the same length again and again; I found pleasure in it. It gave me determination and commitment, which I still have today. The determination to keep going, not to give up because the end goal is always worth it. At the time, the aim was to be standing proud on that 1st place podium, waiting to receive your trophy.
I’ve got lots of medals, trophies and certificates, and I’ll always treasure these. I was never the best, I came second or third a lot of times, but with a disability- it’s pretty damn impressive. My biggest swimming achievements would be completing my 2000m distance swim, and also swimming at the Deaf Championships in Loughborough with fellow swimmer Oliver Kenny (he swims for Great British Deaf now!) Who knows, if I never gave up, I could’ve gone to the Deaflympics! I would love to go back in time and relive it all again!
I struggle to find time to swim nowadays, as I’m so busy. This is why I became a lifeguard, just to get back into that environment. If I could offer advice to others- don’t give up on your dreams, otherwise you might regret it, but if you have to, then always cherish the memories you had.
Love E x