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 Mission accomplished: I've become a swimmer

I guess I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. My friend and swim coach extraordinaire pushed me out of the proverbial nest, with no prior notice, leaving me to fend for myself in the indoor lap pool that has been our classroom for almost two years.

Like a mother bird, Tem told me, her job was done. Now it was time for me to “fly,” or in this case swim, solo.  

That’s so not true,” I protested. “I still have much more to learn, like the… umm… flip turn.”

Tem laughed, knowing I was more likely to do almost anything — including squeeze my body into a two-piece fire engine red bikini — than attempt the flip turn. Can we say, “When hell freezes over.”

Letting go is never easy; not for the student, and not for the teacher. Just saying those two little words makes me weepy. Still, getting to this point is the underlying goal in most everything we do. It means we’ve imparted to someone else the skills and/or knowledge they need to be independent and successful in the outside world.  

Yes, I can swim on my own, but I don’t want to,” I whined.

Let’s face it, swimming laps by myself is nowhere near as much fun as having my pal cheer me on from the sidelines, her words propelling me to push beyond what I thought possible, even as I was choking on water and turning blue.  

You did awesome today,” Tem would tell me at the end of our sessions. “No one who sees you swimming would even think you have Parkinson’s. I certainly don’t.


Sheryl being pushed from the nest to swim alone

Who would have thought that she could transform me from someone who “didn’t do bathing suits” or put her face in the water to a “mermaid” who swims half a mile, twice a week? Certainly, not I.

Reveling in my newly discovered swimming prowess, I imagine (or am I hallucinating) myself competing for a spot on the Olympic swim team — the Parkinson’s Olympic swim team that is. Tem is again by my side as my pal and my coach. With the support of friends and family, there is nothing we can’t do. 

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