When I first signed up for swimming lessons in January, my primary goal was to be able conquer the fear I seem to have developed in adulthood of deep water. As recently as the middle of last month, I had a bit of a panic attack while swimming in areas of the pool where I couldn’t grab onto anything. But my swim teacher was fantastic about encouraging me and not letting me give in to the anxiety. Since that point, my confidence increased with every swim. The panic is probably still there deep down, but knowing I can overcome it holds a lot of power for me.
So my swim teacher set out a new, less abstract goal for me to work towards — the German Bronze level swim test for adults — basically 200m in under 8 minutes (for ages 30+). For whatever reason, he had complete faith that I’d be able to do it, even before I could swim 75m without panicking. He must have sensed that I’m a very goal-oriented person, and indeed it helped to have a concrete goal to hang out to during this whole process.
Anyone familiar with Germany won’t be surprised that swimming as a sport is made up of a whole hierarchical system of swim levels and tests to prove your achievement. Nearly every German friend I talked to could tell me the story of having achieved at least the first Seepferdchen (seahorse) level as a small child. The fun part of these stories is that for every swim level achieved, you received a patch (children and adults alike) to sew onto your bathing suit to be proud of and show off to your friends. Although it didn’t really surprise me in the least, I loved discovering this swimming culture in Deutschland that I didn’t even know existed!
So when the time came for my swim test a couple weeks ago, I gave it all I had and swam my 200m in 7:46. I had no idea whether I would be able to do it until the moment my swim teacher showed me my finish time — and I was totally exhausted! Funny how I can run for 2+ hours without problem, but 8 minutes of hard effort at swimming can wear me out completely. After the test I walked away with a German Swim Pass and a Bronze swim patch to call my own.
I really have no idea if I will ever need to show my Schwimmpass to anyone and I have no plans to sew my new patch on to my bathing suit. But somehow, it’s a nice conclusion to my adventures in swimming lessons. I’ve gotten myself to the point where I can swim for pleasure and for sport — and I plan to integrate swimming regularly into my cross-training. Quite a nice change from where I was just a few months ago, and I couldn’t be more pleased! Thanks to everyone for their support throughout. It’s meant the world to me.
Do you have your own Schwimmabzeichnen story to share?