I've been thinking a while about what exactly I am teaching. Am I teaching swimming ? Am I teaching confidence? Am I teaching myself?
And the answer is , yes.
I've had a spate of adult beginners, people who are extremely fearful of the water, pool water much less open water. I've had a fair few REALLY good swimmers coming to me to learn the "secrets" of open water. I've had adult masters learning new skills. In other words, the gamut of a teacher.
What has struck me in all three instances is that every single one of these people HAS the SKILLS to do what they want to do. I'm not teaching them skills at all. In fact , in the case of the open water ,most of them are faster than I am. This may be due to them wearing a wetsuit, my being so out of shape it's not funny or a combination of both but either way, they are faster than I am.
So, what am I teaching? Skillwise, nothing . I am encouraging them and in some cases gently forcing them , to DO what they already physically can do, but their minds are not allowing them. I'm no psychologist but you have to wonder why . I also wonder why and how I got confidence right?
I am by no means introspective, probably the least meditative and introspective person you'll find but I do wonder about this.
I truly believe that it is my parents who helped me be this way. My father, an imposing person both physically and mentally, my mother- smart as a whip and funny with an ability to make anyone feel welcome,both of them were encouraging when I started swimming. ( I know my mother loved to go watch the swim meets, probably because the speedos on the young men in those days could fit on a pinhead)
Neither of them were encouraging in what I would consider the traditional manner but more along the lines of " you can do whatever you want to do'. I have heard of people whose parents told them "you can't do that because you're a girl" (truth!)
My parents had high expectations. Do well in school, go to college, be considerate of others, be polite ,try new things and do whatever you love doing. Those little things breed and build confidence, day in and day out.
Confidence , trust in one's self, a desire to do... whether it's a lap in a pool or the English Channel, it starts with confidence, not necessarily skill.