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safesplash blog

Monday, April 04, 2016 by Kim Shepheard

Swimming…Just Like Riding a Bike

Kim_and_motorcycle.jpgA motorbike, that is. It’s a bit of a stretch, I know, but think about it for a moment. Both sports can be dangerous, as almost anything fun can be. Doing either one simply for the love of the experience is worth the risks when you love what you are doing, but you can minimize those risks by improving your skill set. Take professional lessons.

Both are lone sports most of the time. Though swimming can be practiced on a team, in the water you are responsible only for yourself. Same goes with riding a motorcycle. You can ride as a group, but only you can “keep the shiny side up.” In order to stay afloat in the water – or upright on a bike – it is difficult to think about anything else at the time. They are both very relaxing, head-clearing activities. There is no multi-tasking here. No texting or talking. No to-do list. Get from Point A to Point B as long as it takes, and breathe.

There are probably as many people afraid of the water as there are who are afraid to get on two wheels with an engine right underneath them. I don’t think there is any difference in the fear between people who swim or ride than in people who let fear stop them. Fear isn’t rational, but it can be used to keep you safe. Some swimmers and riders do so in spite of that fear. What I think everyone should have a healthy dose of when it comes to these activities is a little thing called respect.

Growing up on the east coast I was always told to respect the ocean. “Don’t think you can beat it if you go too far out.” “Swim against the current and avoid any undertow.” That sort of thing. Having respect for things beyond your control is powerful. Respect can empower you, humble you. Respect can keep you out of trouble.

While learning to ride, I grew to have respect for my bike and the power it has. You can harness that power, but there is only so much you can control. Proper training and practice can put the odds of incident in your favor. Just getting on a bike and riding without really knowing what you are doing can end the story badly.

When you learn to swim – no matter at what age – you quickly learn similar lessons. Water in all its forms is powerful, beautiful, useful and yes, can be dangerous. Understanding how to go with the flow will give you peace, courage and confidence.

It all starts with curiosity, continues with the proper training, and practice. Practice. Practice.