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Sky Pool Convert

Sky Pool Convert

Far happier lifting weights than swimming laps, Member Renfield Kuroda decided to confront his aqua anxiety. 

A couple of years ago, I was at a friend’s house. They have a pool and our kids were in it. I remember being very nervous by the side of the pool with all these kids bobbing around. I jumped in and thought, “I’m not really comfortable with this. I think I’ll stay in the shallow end.”

I remember going to the YMCA at 7 or 8 years old and taking what were meant to be swimming lessons. They really sucked and I didn’t retain any of that knowledge. I have never been particularly comfortable in water, especially when I can’t touch the bottom.

My wife is the one who really likes swimming. I told her, “Go swim at the Club, there’s a pool.” And then I was, like, “Hold it, I should take swimming lessons. I can’t actually swim.”

I checked online and signed up for [the adult stroke development program]. I was very apprehensive. I showed up the first day and they asked me, “What do you want to do?” I said, 

“I would love to be able to swim a kilometer. Forty continual laps seems like an unachievable but very cool milestone.”

I remember that first 100 meters I did. I was literally dying at the end. Now I can swim for an hour, taking breaks, and it’s a lot more than I did a year ago. I now do 50-meter [sets] like I used to do 25s. And I can see a couple of years down the road where I could be doing eight [100-meter sets] like the masters [program] guys do. 

Last week, I was doing a certain drill and [instructor Marcin Nowakowski] was, like, “That was the most perfect backstroke you have ever done.” I could feel the stroke pushing me through the water, I had a good bodyline and I just cranked across the pool. And I thought, “Wow, that’s what swimming feels like.”

When I look back over the year, I can really notice the progress. Every week, it’s clear we’re building on what we did last week. I feel the guys are really looking at me and giving me a program that is challenging.

From an exercise perspective, it’s clearly very effective. It’s full-body, it’s muscles, it’s cardio, it’s lungs, it’s zero joint impact. It’s also pretty nice just being in the water, counting strokes or breaths and watching the stripe on the floor. It gets you into that zen place. 

I went to the pool a couple of weeks ago with my son, and we were splashing around and also swimming a couple of laps. It’s kind of nice to be able to do that together, and it opens up options if we go to Hawaii next year. 

I have gotten a lot better at swimming in a much shorter amount of time than I thought I would. That tells me that the goal of just getting in the pool and doing 40 laps is a lot closer than I thought. 

I’m clearly not built for swimming, but I’m proof that anyone can swim. I’m never going to be Olympic, but I’m capable of swimming and will continue to get better.

As told to INTOUCH’s Nick Jones.