Keep swimming until you find joy

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“You must expect something from yourself before you can achieve it.”

— Anonymous

Long ago, my dad’s paternal uncle owned the farm where the Ashland County Airport now sits.

We spent a great deal of time on summer evenings enjoying the swimming pond Uncle Emery and Aunt Martha maintained.

Determined to swim

As the youngest of four girls, I watched my sisters and tried to keep pace with them in swimming and in every single arena. I was obsessed with swimming, though, with even my favorite bedtime book about two children who accomplished swimming lessons in no time flat.

I was probably about 4 or 5 years old, gunning to get to the pond to swim for the first time of the summer, telling my sisters the whole way there that I was going to be the first one in — even if it was cold, even if it was rainy, even if bees swarmed the place in droves — it didn’t matter what might try to stop me.

The car doors opened, and off I ran, jumping into the pond with gusto and grand determination. The one thing I forgot was I still needed to wear a life jacket. I pretty much sunk to the bottom and, in time, came up sputtering in someone’s arms, water being pushed out of me, lying on the little beach.

They said the first thing I asked was, “Can I get back in?”

So, maybe I just wasn’t very smart. I was determined to excel in swimming and didn’t want to waste any time getting there.

Taking lessons

Swimming lessons at the YMCA started that summer, at Dad’s insistence, and the experience just kept getting better. We played in the creek every chance we got, and one day we learned our parents were having a pond dug for us.

It was a gift we enjoyed together in summer and winter, swimming and ice skating together every chance we got.

To this day, I still love swimming and enjoy sharing it with anyone who might grow to love it, too. This past week, I watched with joy as my three grandbabies all enjoyed splashing in the pool we built into our backyard several summers ago.

The swim lessons begin before a toe even touches the water, and a great number of children have learned to swim here.

Flight on earth

Swimming is the closest to free flight we can experience while on Earth. Taking off from the dive board, soaring into the smooth, clear water and pushing weightlessly through it is like no other experience we can replicate.

The only bummer to it is that summer is so fleeting, and the farm so busy. Before we know it, our pool days will be packed up, only to revive in springtime. But, maybe that is what deepens our appreciation for it.

Like that little girl who busted loose from the car with great determination, I wish everyone that type of joy in life. Keep swimming until you find it!

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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