It was a good thing the city of Clovis takes checks. I had no cash on me, and it was too embarrassing to make two visits.
“The swimming lessons are $70, correct? And who do I make the check to?”
“Just write it to the city,” the Aquatic Center employee told me, as he got set to update the database. “And what’s the child’s name taking the lessons?”
I looked across the room, then hung my head and said, “Kevin Wilson.”
And so, I got off to an embarrassing start to taking one more thing off the bucket list. I figured if I didn’t check, “Learn to swim” off the list, I wasn’t going to have a lot of time to finish the list.
Up until three Mondays ago, my ability to swim pretty much consisted of the phrase, “I can survive in water that goes up to my neck.” For 45 minutes a day, 10 weekdays, I worked on changing the phrase.
There were eight or nine instructors rotating throughout the lessons, mostly from the Clovis High swim team (technically, they’re called the, “Clovis Swim Club.”). Most instructors were in charge of three or four kids at a time, but there was only one instructor assigned to the adult block. Of course, “adult block” was more commonly referred to as “Kevin.”
My instructor for the most part was Lucas Brock, whose family moved out of state after the lessons concluded. I knew I was in good hands on the second day when he said, “Sir, I have one question for you … how awesome is it to have a job where you get to rent movies for a living?”
I smiled, responded, “It’s pretty nice,” and then did just enough to not drown for 45 minutes.
Every day, I learned more. How to float on my back. How to swim in fins. How swimming without fins reduces my speed by roughly 94 percent.
I also learned swimming is quite the workout. I fit back into almost all of my jeans from three years ago, and I ran a personal record in a 5K the following Saturday — with no running preparation.
My only waste of time was when I worked on snappy comebacks. I was scared some kid would make some comment along the lines of, “You’re still learning to swim? You’re dumb.” My planned response was, “I have a car. Do you have a car? Didn’t think so.”
Nope, no comments. It’s because they were too busy learning how to swim, and learning it much better than me. On graduation day, kids who weren’t even waist-high to me were congratulated as Level Four swimmers. That might have been why the special announcement was made to cover up my Level One graduation.
“And a special congratulations,” the instructor said, “to Kevin Wilson, who proved that even in the latter part of your life, you can learn new things.”
The latter part of my life? That means I’m going to die before I’m 65. But at least I won’t drown. That’s worth $70, I think.