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Monday, 17 March 2008

Esther Williams Revered

By Claire Jean

Growing up in the 1940s and ‘50s, I was a great admirer of Esther Williams. Not only was she an excellent swimmer, she wore beautiful swim outfits. And if that were not enough, her makeup was always perfect, even under water.

My childhood summers were, in part, spent with eager anticipation waiting for the city workers to open the selected fire hydrants enabling us to cool ourselves from the heat and humidity. If you’re thinking that’s being deprived of something better, think again. I cannot imagine being any more thrilled or having more fun if I were privy to a well designed, chlorinated swimming pool. Now well into my sixties, when I see movies where children are experiencing this same activity, it conjures up such wonderful memories.

A light went off in my head at age fifty. I asked myself some questions, realizing that clearly half of my life was over. There were some things I’d always longed to do. Can I afford to continue waiting? Am I being fair to myself to not do/learn something I always had a desire to do/learn? What’s out there that I’ve wished for but for some reason never found the time or opportunity to fulfill? Well, I suppose swimming was high on that list.

I guess my admiration for Ms. Williams never completely left me. About fifty years of age, I, along with two other almost fifties, signed up for swimming lessons at the local Y. We ordered matching swim suits from a catalog and met that first evening in the parking lot. I remember each of us having to show the other that we were indeed wearing our suits and ready to go. After all, when you are about to enter a class usually comprised of 3, 4 and 5 year olds, you need all the backing you can get.

The moment of truth finally arrived or, should I say, we finally had the guts that gave us the gumption to walk onto the pool deck.

Lo and behold! What luck! We encountered our swimming instructor - a middle-aged, slightly balding man wearing a hot-pink suit. Oh yes, this was going to work!

Was any of it really easy? Of course not. You know, the age thing. While others, week after week and month after month, enjoyed swimming their laps and snickering at us at the other side of the pool, we three were learning how to secure floating devices, put our face in the water and blow bubbles, etc.

I’ve been swimming for the past sixteen years approximately one-and-one-half miles a week. It’s been a wonderful experience both physically and, more importantly, mentally. It’s an activity I realized back then that one can do at any age without the usual concerns of other types of activities.

Along with learning how to swim at fifty, I also enrolled in a four-year, liberal arts program at a university, but that’s another story.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Oh, Bravo to you. I can't seem to get the breathing part down. You have.....and successfully too. Hurrah.

Although I learned to swim as a child, I share you love for Esther Williams. Her movies with water ballet were my favorites, as I was on a team that attempted to do water ballet.

Wonderful story. Just proves you're never too old to learn something new. Thanks for the inspiration.

Bavo! I swim at least 3 times per week, but it is mostly a dog-paddle type. How did the schooling go?

Congratulations not only on learning to swim, but on HOW you learned to swim...in a community. I really admire your going back to school at that age too. I hope it led you to even more new things.

You caused me to start thinking about what I might want to try at the age of 63. Thanks.

I love swimming and remember the summers where we would go to Calistoga to swim in the outdoor pools heated by geysers. with a huge picnic lunch my mother made, I thought it was the best way to spend summer days.
Very enjoyable story.

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