“Close your eyes, put your hand above your head, turn downward, and jump!” Those are the first words that I faintly heard from my grandfather as I made my first attempt at diving. This was not just my first time jumping into a pool (“head-first, mind you);” rather, it was my first time EVER trying to properly swim. By “proper” swimming, I mean that a person is (at least) fully submerged in water and is able to make his way across that body of water without the use of a “doggie paddle” or a floatation device—I, at the time, could do neither. You may wonder how someone goes from “zero” to hero,” but when you have no choice (and/or someone beside you that you respect and admire), you morph into “survival mode.” And survive I did!

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The first time I ever went swimming with you, Papa, was an adventure that I will never forget. You taught me not only how to swim, but more importantly, you taught me how to face fear and never give up. I can recount many times when I wanted to give up, but you never allowed failure to take over; instead, you showed me how to keep going and never take “I can’t” for an answer. You made sure that I safe, while giving me support, but you also made sure that I could feel success by allowing my strengths to shine and my weaknesses to…to…what weaknesses? According to you, I had no weaknesses.

I remember diving and just praying that the water was deep enough and that I would have enough air to make it back to the surface. I always did, and you knew that. It took me some time to trust the unpredictable water, but what made it easier, was your kind and very “predictable” nurturing nature. I went from the “doggie paddle” to swimming the butterfly, breaststroke, and crawl. Before my time spent with you, these would have seemed like some sort of insect or “alien-like” movements; but now, I know that they are the beautiful and elegant swims that you taught me.