All throughout my elementary school years there were a few places outside of my home I could be myself, where I wasn’t teased, bullied or picked on. One of those places was the pool. I loved to swim. I felt so comfortable in the water.
Growing up I took to the water like a fish. The pool felt like my second home at times. Where I swam most of the time was at the local high school. The change room had orange brick painted walls, and white tiled flooring. There were big brown wooden benches in the change room. Along one wall was a huge row of lockers also orange in colour. It was my last night in the Blue level for Red Cross swimming classes. I was having fun, but I was the smallest in the class and youngest as well. We were playing a game and a classmate yelled out “Everyone move in! Aime can’t touch the ground!” Everyone listened and helped making sure I could touch the ground. This I never experienced when I was in school. If I was not getting something, or understanding something the kids would just laugh.
“Mrs. Hutton, Aime is not going to pass this time. She’s to small and doesn’t have the endurance to do the long swims, or the strength to do the rescues like the other kids older than her. She’s a bright girl, with the spirit and drive more than I’ve seen in a long time. I just worry that if I pass her now she’ll fall behind.” I was about 9 at the time, and a lot of the kids in my class were older. My swim instructor was tall had short brown hair. He was nice and funny, yet was also looking out for me too. He had a weird way of helping us in class as well.
We were doing simple rescues one day and my teacher came over to me as I lay on the wet cold tiled ground arms stretched out holding onto the flutter board and the person I had just rescued. My hair was in a pony tail, wet and plastered to my head. My teacher came over to me and said “Aime I can’t hear you yelling!” He lightly pushed his foot onto my back.
“Help!” I screamed louder.
“Much better!” My swim instructor went onto the other kids and did the same exact thing.
I ended up doing my Blue level 4 times until I grew strong enough to do the longer swims and the rescues too.
When I was in Grade 8 I had completed the coloured levels of swimming, and wanted to go further to be a life guard and swim instructor.
School was ending for the day, it was fall, the leaves were starting to change colour again. I loved this time of year. It was another day of grade 8 being called stupid, dumb, a loser, and retarded. I sighed as I packed up my bag and homework.
I was excited though. “I have swimming tonight.” I said out loud as I was packing up, Mrs. M had asked what I was doing in the evening. That was a big mistake though. As some of the boys overheard me.
“Hey everyone, Aime has swimming tonight! I bet you can’t swim! What level are you in? Tadpoles?”
“No, I am doing my Bronze Medallion” I did my best to sound confident to the kids in the class.
“Ooohhh… Hey everyone, Aime’s doing her Bronze Medallion!”
One of the other kids with short brown curly hair and glasses yelled “Aime do you want to be a lifeguard? My sister is, and she did that course too.”
“Yes, I want to be a lifeguard.” My voice shaking and cracking a bit. Wasn’t sure where this was all going.
“Oh, we should all come and bug you when you become a lifeguard!” The kid teased.
I hung my head doing my best not to cry thinking to myself “I will be a guard, watch me.”
12 weeks later, I had passed my bronze medallion. And was on my way to becoming a lifeguard for my city’s pool. The place where I felt at home, when not at home. There were other places I felt like I could be myself. When I was at Pathfinders, camping with them, and when I danced ballet.