Posted by: Mark Nielsen | June 28, 2008

Swimming In the Deep End

As I write this, Graham is grasping a foam “noodle” and kicking his way across the full length of the local high school’s pool. It’s a minor milestone, one that should be noted.

The pool is 75 feet long, and a depth of 14 feet at the deep end. Graham knows it’s that deep, and yet he’s doing it, trusting in his teacher and the implied support of three others in his group who are doing it beside him.

Even after coming the full 75 feet back, they don’t stop to celebrate, but move immediately on to their backstroke work. Very impressive. I’m trying to get G’s attention, but with his goggles (first time for those, too… had to take his glasses off) and all the noise, he doesn’t see or hear me.

Just one more lesson in letting go for me… in trusting others with my precious treasure.

Addendum: Next day, after practicing jumping from the side of the pool, the kids jumped into that 14-foot water from the diving board. Part of me wanted to go rescue him (“You don’t have to do this, Graham…”) A mom next to me was nervous, too. But as his window of opportunity was about to close, Graham worked up the courage to “make the leap”. It gave me a flashback to my first “cliff dive”, about thirty feet down at a quarry when I was around 14.

Tiny but essential conquests of fear: one of the highlights in each of our private “coming of age” stories.



  1. I just read the above blog to my mother. Upon hearing about my cliff-diving, she was mortified. “Thirty feet?!” — I guess there are some things parents are better off not knowing, no matter how old their kid is.

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