I SWAM today, really swam! I never got up on my sides like I had been trying last week (I'll have to try that again next week, but the other lap swimmer were eager to get the pool back after our class, so I ran out of time to try today), just a "crawl" (breast stroke?) on my belly, but I used both arms and did REALLY well. I wasn't even using any form of floatation assistance! I stayed on the shallow end, where I could touch the bottom at all times, when I needed to. It was EXHAUSTING so I would huff and puff and take several minutes to catch my breath after each 1/4 lap, but I felt strong and able in the water, for the first time ever today.
I never was a great swimmer before the strokes, being more of a survival style doggy paddler when I needed to keep my head above water. I really didn't even like to fuss with swimming pools much, finding all the clothing change and such to be too much trouble for the limited amount of pleasure. Now I LOVE the water, the freedom of movement it provides, and hate the effects of gravity that seem almost crushing again when I get out. Today, I felt so strong swimming that I started entertaining ideas of competing in the Special Olympics someday (probably a silly dream at this stage, but honestly what plays through my head when I think of today's swim).
I know I still have a LONG way to go, but two comments that really made me feel good are when my mom told me that I didn't even "look disabled" in the water today and when a friend stopped me in the locker room after class to say, "You swim better than I do now!" I do think it is more than valid to say that I swam better today than I typically did before the strokes. I can barely straighten or extend my arm, out of the water. But in the water I could work it to take full swimming strokes. Lots of energy and concentration were demanded of me, but I did it!!! Crazy that just last week I couldn't even support my weight and hold myself up in the water with a floatation belt! Missy, thank you for challenging me when I was ready to accept a limitation!
The one draw back from using my arm so much (and I have noticed this before, just not to such an extent) is that rather than using my left arm more as a result of the exercise, I actually use it less and draw it up more tightly to my chest in the days following such exertion. Today I keep intentionally having to remind myself to relax my left arm and unclench my fist as I find it pulled so tightly into my chest and my hand so tightly grasping itself that my nails are digging deep, purple groves into my palms. It's like the more I challenge that arm, the more exhausted and uncooperative it becomes the rest of the time.
Also I have to say something to my beautiful blessing of my long-awaited daughter:
Love this quote: God will not protect us from what He wants to perfect us through. - FamilyLife Art of Marriage Session One
(Answers some of the questions I had about the strokes in light of verses like Psalm 4:8.)
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.