Swim Lessons: Reflecting on a Childhood Rite of Passage

Growing up in Southern California, swimming was as integral to my summers as the guarantee of scalding my feet on hot sidewalks. My mama enrolled me in swim lessons at age four, but I clung to her leg with ferocity when I saw that lessons meant joining dozens of unfamiliar kids in the shallow end of an Olympic-sized pool. A male lifeguard tried to cajole me into joining them, but when it became apparent that I wouldn't budge, my mama gave him permission to pry me off her leg and toss me in. By the end of the summer I advanced enough to manage a mean bellyflop off the high dive.

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